This has been my final week in the land. Danny and Yossi prevailed upon me to join a tour they were leading as a sort of “thank you” for my work with them. The group was made up mostly of women as well as two husbands and six children. As they traveled around the country they gave Hebrew dance performances in the various communities they visited.
So, Monday morning I took the bus downtown and met with the group who had been staying in a hotel in downtown Jerusalem. We boarded a tour bus and headed west toward the coast.
Our first stop was a winery where we were given a tour and then a taste of the produce. From there we drove along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea to Caesarea, the amazing city built by King Herod in honor of his Roman patron, Caesar Augustus. Herod’s theater was the site of lots of plays and gladitorial games and the ladies decided they would dance on the stage with their banners. This place is huge. In the center of the seating you can see a place marked off by some railing (right behind where our people are sitting). This is where Festus, King Agrippa and his wife, Bernice, sat and listened to the apostle Paul defend himself against Jews from Jerusalem who were wanting the King to put Paul to death. You can read about this in the book of Acts, chapters 23-26.
This is the aqueduct King Herod had built on the shore to bring water 12 miles from the mountains to his new city.
We left Caesarea and drove up to the top of Mount Carmel, where the prophet, Elijah had his face-off with King Ahab and the prophets of Baal. From the mountaintop you look down on the peaceful Valley of Armageddon.
We then went to Mount Tabor, where Deborah, the Judge, fought and defeated Sisera (see the Book of Judges). The view from the top of this mountain was beautiful. This is also considered by some to be the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah.
After this, we visited a military base and saw some of the tanks used in the recent war with Lebanon. At first, we were told we could take pictures as long as we didn’t publish them; but, then they relented and said it was OK. We talked with the 29 year old Major who had the responsibility of protecting Israeli’s northern border which was only a couple of miles away.
Then it was on to Caesarea Phillipi and the waterfall there. We all commented on how much this area looked like the mountains of eastern Tennessee.
I had to take a picture of this bush. When Yossi and I walked past it, he said, “Did you know this is the same kind of bush that God caused to grow up over Jonah when Jonah got so mad at God? Yes, read about it in the last chapter of the Book of Jonah. And here is the same kind of bush.”
Finally, we drove to the east coast of the Sea of Galilee just as they sun was setting over the Sea behind the western mountains.
We left the rest of the group here to take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. Yossi had to attend a wedding in Jerusalem, so he took me back to the apartment. On the way we spent a couple of hours discussing the difference between Christianity and Orthodox Judaism. We hugged each other “goodbye until next year”.