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Showing posts from May, 2015

Israel Reflections #7, Nazareth and Nablus

In an attempt to give some background to our latest trip to Israel I've posted a few blog pages to break up the material and place things in more "bite-size" portions.  In this seventh post I want to share about Jesus' home town and our visit to the Nazareth Village, as well as our stop in Nablus on the way back home to Bethlehem.

Nazareth surprised me.  The trip to Nazareth is a trip "Up" - our vehicle climbing up small mountain roads to get there.  The city sits on top of a ridge north of the Jezreel Valley.  The city is home to 60,000 Israeli Arabs and Jews.  At the time of Jesus it was probably a village of only 200.

Of course, Nazareth was where Jesus was raised as a boy.  In fact, it was here that he was conceived in Mary's womb as the angel of God visited her:  Luke 1:26-27 
26  In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of Dav…

Israel Reflections - #6, Caesarea

On one of Jesus' journeys with his disciples they left Capernaum and walked about 20 km north to the northern borders of Israel - an area referred to as Caesarea Philippi.  To the Romans it was called "Banias", or "Panias" and had a shrine erected to the greek god, Pan.

Historically it was the headquarters of one of Herod's sons Philip, who in about 14 a.d. made it a capitol city for the region he was to take control of.  He called it Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor at the time of Philip's rule.  Later it was passed on the another Herod, Agrippa, who made more improvements to it and made it is regional place of rule.

When Jesus arrived with his disciples he took the opportunity to ask a question:  Matthew 16:13-18 
13  Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah…

Israel Reflections - #5, Galilee Other Spots

Last time I shared just one segment of our time in Galilee and that was the marvelous ruins of Capernaum.  I want to share a bit more of our time in Galilee and the other spots we made it to.

We traveled from where we were staying in Bethlehem north to Galilee - a trip about 100 miles - but it took us three hours before we arrived at our initial destination, a Kibbutz.

If you're not familiar with a Kibbutz, it literally mean "Communal settlement".  Israel has a large number of Kibbutzim.  Many are agriculture, but they are not all dedicated to agriculture.   There is a really good introduction to the average Kibbutz at the web site:

 https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/kibbutz.html

We were very near Mount Tabor, which is the traditional spot of the Mount of Transfiguration, when Jesus took three of his disciples,
Peter, James, John to the top of the mountain.  All the Synoptic gospels record it.  Matthew 17:1-8 records it like this.
1  And af…

Israel Reflections - #4, Galilee

In the previous post I shared some of things we experienced in Hebron, and in the previous one, some of what we did in Jerusalem.

On our third day there we traveled to the Northern parts of Israel, driving up the eastern side in the Jordan River valley.

The Jordan River is the boundary between Israel and Jordan, and it is flat, arid, and a source of  dry farming such as the vast array of date farms.



We passed through the ancient city of  Jericho.  The mountains in the background reminded us of the barrier that Joshua and his army faced as they entered the land when God told them to go in and take the land.

While the modern city is built on the plains, the ancient part of Jericho is in the foothills of the mountain range and must have looked like a formidable task.  What must have they thought when God said, in Joshua 6, 3  You shall march around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days.

They did...and at the end on the seventh day the…

Some Reflections on Israel - #3

Linda and I had the privilege of visiting some friends of ours in Israel last month.  We traveled to Israel via London - a five hour flight to Tel Aviv, followed by a one hour drive to Bethlehem, where we lived in an apartment for the week with some lovely people - Erika and Frank, a young couple who are also working in Israel.

Frank is originally from Spain and he's tutoring Arab students in learning Spanish.  Erika is originally from Wales and is pursuing her Master's degree in Ireland and doing research with Palestinian children.  We loved our times with them.  They've been married less than a year and their adventure in life together is really just beginning, but we loved our times with them over cover, food and late night conversations.

After a couple of days in Israel we went to Hebron where we split up.  Linda went with Karen to a afternoon session with women from the University that Karen had organized.  Women in Palestine are often marginalized and treated as sec…

Some Reflections on Jerusalem - #2

Last week I shared a few things about our recent trip to Israel.  We were there for 8 days and during that time visited Jerusalem twice.

Jerusalem is an interesting city.  A modern city it also envelopes a small "Old City" that existed in Biblical days.  The city is full of contrasting life:  Modern & Old,  Strongly Religious and Humanistically secular.

When I took this first picture we had stopped to have a bite to eat at one of the many market stands that dot the streets.  In the background is an Orthodox Jewish man reading and praying.

Orthodox Jewish are plentiful.  Usually dressed in familiar attire, men usually wear hats, and women head coverings.  Men and boys have long locks of hair hanging on the side...all of which is based on traditions handed down through the centuries of teachings by the Rabbis and made into Law.


We began our tour of Jerusalem the first day by going to the Mount of Olives.  The Mount of Olives have biblical significance in several ways:  Davi…