The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty Four

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The usual day walk through the old city of Jerusalem can be long, hot and tiring, so it's important to take breaks along the way, and enjoy something to eat, and maybe an antiquities shop or two...All I can say is that the original widow would be a might surprised at that advertisement. Here's the entrance to one of the antiquities shops....it's hard to get past the door.After passing some of the Muslim cemetery found on the northern and eastern walls of the city we began our … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty Three

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A visit to Bethlehem necessarily involves stops at: 1) Shepherd's fields; 2) the Church of the Nativity and the adjacent modern church with Jerome's grotto; and 3) of course the olive wood shops, in this case, the best one near the Church of the Nativity called the Three Arches.Shepherd's fields reminds us that Bethlehem was the staging ground for the raising of the lambs, to be slaughtered at the temple in Jerusalem. Thus while the scenery is bucolic, it ends badly for the lambs. They … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Twenty Two

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We moved on from Jerusalem briefly to Bethlehem, starting at the back side of Bethlehem at the Herodium, one of Herod's many get away places, in case someone was after him. This excavation has really seen some development over the last ten years, including the likely discover of Herod's own tomb. But it has also been an ill-fated excavation, as Ehud Netzer, the famous archaeologist who dug the site, and publicized in 2007 that he had found Herod's tomb, died at the site in 2010 at age 76, from … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Twenty One

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Like most tours of the city of Jerusalem, we started at the top of the Mt. of Olives, because of course, that's where the vendors take the pictures of a group with the Dome of the Rock and the old city lurching in the background. It is a nice view from in front of the Seven Arches Hotel (a sad old place at this point), but the shots taken from lower down the hill at the chapel known as Dominus Flevit (the Lord wept) are just as grand, and closer to the old city as well. Check out these … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Twenty

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On the way up to Jerusalem, we passed through Jericho briefly, long enough to see a giant Sycamore tree (not old enough to be climbed by Zaccheus, but you get the mental image),We then went up the old Roman road to Wadi Quelt, a wadi is a dry river bed, and in this case we are talking about a deep ravine into the wall of which was built St. George's monastery.....It's one of my favorite places to be at sunrise or sunset, just across the ravine from the monastery, on a hill overlooking it. … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Nineteen

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What would a trip to the Dead Sea be without a dip in the Dead Sea, perhaps with the help of a coat of protective mud....So you run into the mud people...Our Yuliya decided just to dip her toes into the chemical bath which is the Dea Sea (honestly its rather slimy and requires a quick shower. It's good point--- you can't sink). It was also about 100 degrees, not surprising at the lowest point on earth.If the Dead Sea is not your cup of tea (and I hope it isn't-- you can't … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Eighteen

Israel - Masada - Erosion

The ride through the desert (not on a horse with no name please--- it's too hot) is a long one to get to Masada, especially from Galilee where we started the day. You can however see the bluff from a great distance as you ride along beside the every dwindling Salt Sea (can you say, too much mining by the Ahava cream people?).The famous Israeli warrior turned archaeologist, Yigal Yadin was originally responsible for the dig here, and he is commemorated in the entrance building to the … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel, Part Seventeen

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Our next destination as we head south to Qumran and the Dead Sea is Beth Shean/Scythopolis, or more properly speaking, just the latter. There isn't time to do both in one day. Scythopolis or the city of the Scythians (I'll let you look them up. They are mentioned in passing in the NT). This is the only city of the Decapolis, the league of ten Greek cities, that is within the traditional borders of Israel. It is a further reminder of how Hellenized Israel was long before Jesus was born. This … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Israel Part Sixteen

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Our next place to visit is Migdal or Magdala, the hometown of you know who. Our previous mental image of a quaint little impoverished fishing village has been completely blown out of the water by the recent excellent archaeological work done on this site. Kudos to the team. My group was fortunate enough to have Richard Bauckham (who was there at the time) to come give an excellent lecture on what has been found at Migdal.... which is to say, a considerable synagogue (which Jesus may have … [Read more...]


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