In the Galilee and the Golan

We began the day setting sail from Tiberias, with a devotional service in a boat out on the Sea of Galilee.  I spoke, as did Jack Welch, who is leading the other bus that is accompanying mine.

We landed at Capernaum, and then proceeded just a few minutes south to the traditional Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus may have delivered his Sermon on the Mount.  (It can’t have been far from here.)

From there, we drove northward through the Huleh Basin to the waterfalls at Banias.  Then we had lunch a few hundred yards away.

Then it was on to nearby Banias itself, the ancient Caesarea Phillipi — to be distinguished from Caesarea Maritima, over on the Mediterranean coast, which we visited yesterday — where Peter testified that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” was told of the rock on which Christ’s church would be built, and was promised the keys of the kingdom.  This one of my favorite sites in Israel, and not only because of its natural beauty; more than almost any other biblical location, its topography helps to shed light on the meaning of the biblical text.  (Come here with me sometime and I’ll explain why.)

The beginning of the  Golan Heights, just above Banias,
with the crusader castle of “Nimrod’s Fortress” on the ridge.

We next drove up through predominantly Druze towns into the Golan Heights, from which we could look down at Syria and, especially, at the ruins of the Syrian town of Quneitra, destroyed during the Six Day War in 1967, and at New Quneitra, a kilometer or two further beyond.  Anti-Asad demonstrations broke out there about a year or so ago — a first for a Druze village, and, thus, a very bad omen for the Asad regime.  (It was also in this general area that the superb film The Syrian Bride is set, a film that I recommend very enthusiastically.)

Finally, en route back to our hotel at Tiberias, we stopped in at the Wadi al-Hammam, “the Valley of the Doves,” just inland from the ancient Galilee port town of Migdal (from which Mary Magdalene came).  This is the little valley via which Jesus probably walked between Capernaum and Nazareth.  We walked a short distance up it, enjoying its peaceful beauty.

Back in our hotel in the evening, passengers from the two buses attended a fireside in which Elder Merrill J. Bateman, who is traveling along with the group, and Jack Welch and I spoke.  Two of the speakers were very good.

Still jet lagged in the evenings, though.  I have huge problems blogging at night.  Nearly fall off the chair.

Posted from Tiberias, Israel.


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