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Posts Tagged ‘Visiting Israel’

Tel Dan

      One of the farthest points you can travel in modern Israel is Dan. As you make your way north from Jerusalem or the Sea of Galilee to Tel Dan, the border with Lebanon is within sight. Conflict along this border has continued for many years. Hezbollah, which was designated a Foreign Terror Organization by the U.S. State Department, is a terrorist organization backed by money and resources from Iran which does not believe in the legitimacy of Israel, and seeks its total destruction. When you visit the area, you will see that Israel’s enemies are very close to her, and it is only through diligence that Israel is able to keep the enemies at bay.
      Dan and the surrounding area has many natural springs. One of three springs that feeds the Jordan is located near the ancient city of Dan (Tel Dan). It is a beautiful area all year round with lush greenery, trees, and rushing water.
      The city of Dan was formerly called Laish or Leshem. The Bible describes the people of Dan brutally defeating the people of Laish and burning the town to the ground and then building their own town on the same spot (Judges 18:7) The city is mentioned approximately twenty-four times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and it was typically the first city to be lost to invaders from the north because of its location very close to the northern border.

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Dan
Location of the golden calf – place of false worship. The metal frame is meant to give you an idea of how big the altar would have been.
The seat of the chief elder of the town at the gate of the city.
Close up of the gate – dating from approximately 1750 BC. (the time of Abraham)
“Abraham’s Gate” at Tel Dan

You can visit our website or email us for more on upcoming trips to Israel. If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Bethel

Bethel (“house of God”), formerly known as Luz, is a town located in the land of Canaan, the land given to the tribe of Benjamin. Bethel is mentioned seventy-one times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). The only city mentioned more times is Jerusalem. That information alone speaks volumes about the importance of Bethel to the Bible narrative. Bethel is where Jacob saw the ladder ascending and descending from heaven and where God blessed him. We’re told in Judges 4:5, that near Bethel is where Deborah sat and heard the people when she was the Judge of Israel.

 

Pictures of Bethel and from Bethel

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One of the places that you may visit if you visit Northern Israel is Caesarea Philippi. It is where Jesus asked His disciples the pointed question, “Who do you say that I am? and of course, it is where Peter responded, “You are the Christ!”

But Caesarea Philippi is largely a pagan spot. It is also known as Banias (or Panias).  It was made famous in ancient times for being where the Greek god, Pan, was said to have visited a nearby spring. During those days, Pan worship was prevalent here.

What I enjoy about Caesarea Philippi is the abundance of living water. Water literally comes out of the rocks. The pictures below give you an idea.

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At the time Jesus and His disciples visited Caesarea Philippi it would have been a city filled with temples to a variety of pagan gods including those of the Greeks and Romans. Only the ruins of some of those temples and others built later remain today.  See the photos below of some images of the ruins and the cave of Pan.

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Temple of Pan

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Caesarea Phillip (1)

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Caesarea Philippi (2)

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Caesarea Philippi (3)

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Caesarea Philippi (4)

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Cave of Pan (Caesarea Philippi)

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Have you ever been to the Mediterranean Sea? It is beautiful. The seaport of Caesarea is on the coast of the Mediterranean, and it is spectacular although most of what is left of the man-made harbor and the ancient city is only ruins. The varied blue hues of the sea captivate. I have been to Caesarea on several occasions and most recently when I was there, the sea was rough and tempestuous as compared to earlier visits. Below are some of the photos I have taken on my visits:

 

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

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Ruins of Herod’s Port at Caesarea

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Caesarea Maritima

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Caesarea Maritima

The photos below are from my visit in 2020. The sea was very different that day than I had seen it in the past.

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In Caesarea, no natural harbor existed. It was Herod the Great, the master builder, who built a huge man-made harbor here. It was a great feat of design and engineering. Unfortunately, Herod’s structure was no match for the forces of nature.

Caesarea has a new visitor’s center which opened last fall which features a short movie about Herod and provides lots of interesting information about Caesarea.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Tel Dan

In the north of Israel, almost to the border with Lebanon, is some of the most beautiful landscape in Israel. Here one can find the head waters of the Jordan River, and some very important places in the history of the people of God.

You may not know this, but Dan is the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel. When each of the tribes was given its portion of the promised land by lot in the Book of Joshua, the portion given to the tribe of Dan was in the south of the country. A portion of the land given to Dan bordered the coast of the Mediterranean, but unfortunately, to the south of the land given to Dan lived the Philistines, arch enemies of Israel. Because they were unable to defeat the Philistines and ended up in constant conflict with them, the Danites decided to relocate to the north to a city previously known as Laish.

Dan was part of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) when the kingdoms were divided after Solomon died. They worshiped idols including a golden calf which was located at Tel Dan.

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Spring at Tel Dan

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Spring at Tel Dan

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Beautiful greenery and water at Tel Dan

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2020 with the rains, the water flow was tremendous at Tel Dan

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Head waters of the Jordan River

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Snow melt from Mt Hermon (Head waters of the Jordan River)

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Head waters of the Jordan River

The pictures above show you how green it is in the Spring at Tel Dan and the tremendous flow of water. This water will end up flowing in the Jordan River.

Below are photos of the site where the altar was in Dan. It was a pagan altar and not a place sanctioned by God for worship by the Israelites. The northern kingdom was ultimately destroyed by the Assyrians which God clearly stated was because of Israel’s idolatry.

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Altar site at Tel Dan

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Altar Site at Tel Dan

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Altar remains at Tel Dan

Also at the Tel Dan Nature reserve are the remains of the ancient city of Laish and the gate of the city which is sometimes called “Abraham’s Gate” because it is believed that this is the city gate that Abraham would have come through when he was looking for Lot and his family who had been kidnapped. (See Genesis 14) That will be addressed in a future post.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

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Hebron

One of the places that I was able to visit on my recent trip to Israel was Hebron. Hebron, considered the first Hebrew City, is located in the Judean mountains south of Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). The location is important to the Jews because it is the burial place of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives. (See Genesis 23)

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The building at Hebron was built by Herod the Great, one of his many building projects across the land. He also built a palace in Jerusalem, a palace in Jericho, a palace on Masada, an entire harbor at Caesarea Maritima and Herodium, where he was buried. However, the building at Hebron is the only structure built by Herod the Great that is still in tact.

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The graves of the patriarchs are believed to be in caves below the structure. Because the Jews must share the building with the Muslims, with each occupying one half of the building, it is difficult to do further exploration or excavation to find out what is below the building.

As we were leaving the building, an afternoon prayer service was beginning. The Jews living in Hebron are mostly Modern Orthodox, but Orthodox Jews from other parts of the country visit Hebron and spend time there in prayer and study.

Not unlike the Temple Mount and Western Wall, police are stationed at the entrance for security.

The tombs are a short distance from the actual Tel of the ancient city of Hebron. One of the upcoming posts will be dedicated to the Tel itself.

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In the tall cliffs above the Salt Sea (aka the Dead Sea) there are openings in the cliffs barely visible from the road passing below. The openings lead to caves. In the caves, the members of an ancient Jewish community, hid scrolls on which were written portions of the Hebrew Bible as well as extensive writings about the life in the religious community.

The scrolls, the earliest copies of the Hebrew Bible, were discovered in the 1940’s right around the time Israel was being established and Jews were returning to Israel from all over the world. The discovery of the scrolls at this time was more than mere coincidence. The writings reinforce the claims of legitimacy of the Jewish people in the land. The writings further confirm the authenticity of scripture for Christians as well as Jews.

The photos above give you an idea of the geography of Qumran. These photos are taken in the wetter part of the year, and yet there is little greenery. The only fresh water in this area comes from the ravines which bring water from the north of Israel after the rains. The openings in the rocks evident in some of the photos are caves similar to and in which the scrolls were found.

The photos above are from the excavations of the Jewish community near the base of the cliffs where the Dead Sea scrolls were found. They appear to have been a religious group. This conclusion is based on the finding of several Mikva’ot (plural of Mikveh). The Mikva’ot are used for bathing, part of the Jewish practice of ritual purification. The occurrence of several in a community speaks of the important of ritual purity to the group. In addition to the Mikva’ot, remains of very large cisterns, used to collect and store water for the long periods without rain-water run off, have been excavated.

In the photos above, you can also see part of the water system which has been discovered which provides further support for the importance of water to their religious practices as well as their experience with collecting and storing water because of the geography and lack of nearby fresh water sources.

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Lake Kinneret

Some things in Israel never change, but also continue to amaze and instruct. One such place is Lake Kinneret. You may know it as the Sea of Galilee or Lake Tiberias.

The lake is the lowest fresh water lake in the world. It is 13 miles long and 8 and ½ miles wide at the widest point. Though small when compared to many lakes around the world, Lake Kinneret is at no loss for visitors.

Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) was the hub around which Jesus of Nazareth taught during his ministry. Many of the stories found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John took place on or near the lake.

While I was originally drawn to the lake for the usual reasons pilgrims are, I am drawn back now by the beauty and mystery of the lake. It is a joy to photograph because the views are rarely the same. The lake changes with the rising and setting of the sun and with the fog and mist that lay across its surface through parts of the day as well.

I offer you, the lake . . .

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As I head home from Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), I amazed that once again, it could speak to me and tell me so much of my God and my heritage as a God-lover.  It seems I can never exhaust the secrets this city holds for those who will come and open their hearts to the God who set His name on this hill.

Here are a few random moments from this year’s trip. Look for future posts discussing sites visited on our trip.

 

 

 

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Ahab sent word to all the Israelites and assembled the [pagan] prophets together at Mount Carmel.  Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you [c]hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people [of Israel] did not answer him [so much as] a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone remain a prophet of the Lord, while Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Now let them give us two oxen, and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the god who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”

Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” But the people [of Israel] did not answer him [so much as] a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I alone remain a prophet of the Lord, while Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Now let them give us two oxen, and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it in pieces, and lay it on the wood, but put no fire under it. I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the Lord; and the god who answers by fire, He is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one bull for yourselves and prepare it first, since there are many of you; and call on the name of your god, but put no fire under it.” So they took the bull that was given to them and prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, hear and answer us.” But there was no voice and no one answered. And they leaped about the altar which they had made.  At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry out with a loud voice, for he is a god; either he is occupied, or he is out [at the moment], or he is on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened!” So they cried out with a loud voice [to get Baal’s attention] and cut themselves with swords and lances in accordance with their custom, until the blood flowed out on them. As midday passed, they played the part of prophets and raved dramatically until the time for offering the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention.

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people approached him. And he repaired and rebuilt the [old] altar of the Lordthat had been torn down [by Jezebel]. Then Elijah took twelve stones in accordance with the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.” So with the stones Elijah built an altar in the name of the Lord. He made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he laid out the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and the wood.” And he said, “Do it the second time.” And they did it the second time. And he said, “Do it the third time.” And they did it a third time. 3The water flowed around the altar, and he also filled the trench with water.

Elijah’s Prayer

At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet approached [the altar] and said, “O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel (Jacob), let it be known today that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and that I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that You, O Lord, are God, and that You have turned their hearts back [to You].” Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood, and even the stones and the dust; it also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw it, they fell face downward; and they said, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” Then Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape.” They seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and [as God’s law required] killed them there. 1 Kings 18:20-40

Nothing can really be added to this phenomenal story. The pictures below are from Mt Carmel, Israel.

View from Mt Carmel, Israel
Mt Carmel
Statue of Elijah, the Prophet, Mt Carmel, Israel
View from Mt Carmel, Israel

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