Saturday, November 27, 2010

Fri, Nov 5th

This mural is on the side of a hotel in Tiberias. In person it looks really big and eye catching.
Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River in the Judean wilderness which is now in the ceasefire area. Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa put up the money for the structures so baptisms could be performed on the Jordan.
They wear these white robes. Here's Richard from Australia-he's one half of one of my most favorite couples!
Mark 1:9-11, in many different languages was all along the wall. I was so excited to see it in Hawaiin Pidgin.
This is for Ron who gave me Scottish Gaelic lessons on our early morning walks in the old city. Moran Taing!
It is really pretty here. A kabutz has taken over so it's a tad bit commercialized.

We are traveling south along the Jordan River Valley following along the fault.
This is the Crusader fortress of Belvoir located on a hill of Naphtali plateau. It was originally part of the feudal estate of a French nobleman Velos who lived in Tiberias. Velos sold it to the Order of the Hospitallers in 1168. They built a strong concentric castle. It was a major obsticle to the Muslims trying to reach Jerusalem from the east. Following the victory of Saladin at the battle of the Horns of Hittin, Belvoir was besieged which lasted a year and a half before the defending Crusaders surrendered on 5 January 1189.
Across the Jordan River is the Gilead Mountains in Jordan. This would have been home to the tribe of Manasseh.
This Beit She'an, a city in a very strategic location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley. Beit She'an is listed among Thutmose III's conquests in the 15th century bc. The Bible mentions it as a Canaanite city within the tribe of Manasseh in Joshua 17:11 and Judges 1:27. During the Hellenistic period the named was changed to Scythopolis. Since the Greeks don't build upon others ruins they built their city at the base of the hill. In 63 bc it was taken by the Romans and made part of the Decapolis, a confederation of 10 cities that were centers of Greco-Roman culture. Construction included a Roman theater, hippodrome, and cardo. Mount Gilboa provided dark basalt blocks as well as water. Many mosaics and elaborate decorations were found in the luxurious villas. The city reached 40,000 and spread beyond its walls. The city was so huge only the commercial center has been excavated. In 634 the Muslims took over. The city declined during this period and the glorious architecture was lost to neglect. Structures were built in the wide streets narrowing them to mere alleyways and makeshift shops were among the colonades. After a few earth quakes the once bustling metropolis became a village whose residents lived in a miserable state.
The ruins of the Roman city lay below the ancient Tel. Saul was killed at Mt. Gilboa and they fastened his body to the wall of Bethshan (Samuel 31:10).
On top of the tel stands a "tree" which looks like a person with arms raised toward heaven. It is actually a movie prop from the 1973 movie "Jesus Christ Superstar." Our guide, Ronnie, was an extra in the movie. The prop was where Judas hanged himself in the movie.

God invisioned a people with no centralized government, He laid out a community that required literacy, public health, hygiene, social justice-all in the Bible. As long as there was no idolatry the people would prosper. God used pagan nations to judge the people. God was their King but they wanted to be like other nations-not a confederation of tribes-they wanted a savior but they get Saul. It is a sin to call on evil spirits, praying to the dead as Catholics do is necromancy. Once people stop seeking God they seek to follow other things-idols, man, self. People stay loyal to a church, a system, denomination, a person that is based on a false doctrine.

Zeus, Zeos in Greek is a corruption of Deos.

These are the public bathrooms. Without good sanitation a civilization ends. Some countries didn't have sanitation as recent as 100 years ago and here the Romans built a system with constantly flowing water over 2000 years ago.

This tree smells amazing.
On top of the tel now.
The Romans built a temple on top of the ancient tel. The columns are laying about.
Some of the remains date back 2-3000 years bc.

In the spring the brown hills are a spectacular green with wild fennel and tons of flowers.

Next stop is En Harod.
When the Midianites invaded the Valley of Harod from the east during the period of Judges, they camped between the hill of Moreh and Mount Gilboa (Judges 7:1). In preparation for his night attack on the Midianites, Gideon divided his men into three groups (Judges 7:16). When the signal was given the lights and sounds caused panic and the Midianites retreated down the valley to the Jordan. Near the northeastern side of the hill was En-dor, the home of the medium the desperate king Saul consulted before his battle with the Philistines near Jezreel. Shunem, where Elisha raised the young son of a couple who had hosted him, was located near the base of the south side of the Hill of Moreh. Nain was located on the north side, Jesus traveled 20 miles from Capernaum to Nain to raise a young man and give him back to his widowed mother.
Gideon Springs/En Harod, this is the water where Gideon brought the soldiers to (Judges 7:4-7). God tests us so we will know the out come. God already knows. This is living water-a picture of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the water that brings life to the soul. By drinking the living water one can live and never thirst again. Just as the physical body needs water to live so does the spirit. Jesus is the water needed by the spiritual part of man. Without Him the soul will die. The soul is thirsty and we try to quench that thirst with many things and are always thirsty. The only thing that can truly quench the thirst of the spirit is the living water, Jesus Christ.
Fresh water snail shells. The presence of snails is an indicator for very clean water.
I noticed these huge beautiful flowers after watching these little black birds that were singing the sweetest songs.

(The Hill of Moreh) While the Hebrew word for "red," adom, emphasizes the unique relationship between man and his Creator. For example, adom is related to many words such as adama-earth, dam-blood, adam-man. This red is the typical color of the earth here. It is super fine-like a powder, dust. The red also refers to the color of natural man. The pottery is red, made from this red earth. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7 "For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. God has chosen old clay pots for storing divine treasure. Molding clay and clay pots are frequently used metaphors in the Bible. Judges 7:16, 20 "he put a trumpet into every man's hand with empty pitcher and torches inside the pitchers." "The the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers-they held the torches in their left hands"...(the scene that took place right here in this valley). Clay pots that must be smashed in order to let the inner light shine through. Christians are vessels of clay designed to hold a priceless treasure. The old man must be smashed to let the light of Christ shine through us.
Crossing over into the West Bank now. Notice no wall. Israel has no jurisdiction here except for the roads. Everything is under the Palestinian Authority.
On the flight over to Israel I sat next to an American who is an aid worker in Gaza. He said he'd lived there 8 years. An Israeli who did his three years of military service in Gaza joined our conversation. I was super interested in getting a feel for the situation there. Both responded that it is completely political and all about perception in order to garner international attention and sympathy (in other words-$$). An aid worker saying this? Yes, he said the Egyptians and Israelis take very good care to provide food, water, health care, and education. Anyone who has visited Israel can attest to the quality of living those of the West Bank and east Jerusalem enjoy. We passed many huge houses. Their standard of living may be poor because they just pile their trash up in the streets and yards but thier quality of living is well above the regional average. In 1999, the British NCIS, declared the PLO the richest of all terrorist organizations with over $10 billion in assets and an annual income of $2 billion from donations, extortion, payoffs, illegal arms dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, etc. The PLO has at least $50 billion in secret investments around the world. In the years before Egyptian born Yasser Arafat died, huge amounts of money were being transfered to his wife's accounts. She received 1 mil. British pounds a month for 2 years as well as 53,000 British pounds a month from the Palestinian Authority. His wife has spent all but her childhood living in Paris. The Palestinian Authority was created in 1994 as a governing body for Areas A and B in the West Bank. The PA has received unprecedented financial support from the international community. Israel gives the PA $55 million to pay Palestinian civil servants. According to the World bank, on average, $929 million were given by the international community yearly, funneled directly to the office of President Mahmoud Abbas. The budget deficit is $800 million/year. "The PA's fiscal situation has become increasingly unsustainable mainly as a result of uncontrolled government consumption. Government corruption is widely seen as the cause of much of the PA's financial difficulties, " said the World Bank. There are many organizations operating in Gaza and the West Bank who refuse to recognize Abbas. Hamas and many other groups consider Aziz Dweik as the President. The international community will only recognize Abbas. The problem in this is it is difficult to get terrorist organizations to cooperate with a President they don't recognize. because of the corruption of the PA, a socialist group such as Hamas is welcomed by the Arab residents of the west Bank and Gaza. Part of the difficulty is the many Arabs residents of Israel who receive abundant social and economic benefits that those living under the PA do not receive. Christian Arabs as do some Muslim Arabs wish not to be under Muslim authority and prefer the Israeli system though at the same time refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli state.
What's interesting is there has been economic campaigns and actions to boycott products from Israel, institutions and businesses that are Jewish. This was started by organizations who challenge the legitimacy of Israel. What is astonishing is the reaction by non-Arabs, especially Christian, countries/organizations calling for a boycott: 2004 The Presbyterian Church of USA, 2005 Norway, 2006 Ontario Union of Public Employees, Congress of South African Trade Union, United Church of Canada, Church of England, 2007 Britain's National Union of Journalists, 2008 Irish Municipal Public and Civil Trade Union, the UK labeling all products made in Israel, 2009 Belgian government, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Britain's Trade Union Congress, dock workers of South Africa refuse to unload an Israeli ship, 2010 Italian supermarket chains pull all Israeli products, Sweden port workers refuse to process Israeli ships, British Methodist Church, State of Washington in the US, and the World Council of Churches, representing 560 million Christians has called for a global boycott of all Israeli products. Belgian, France, Norway, Sweden, and Germany pulled financing/investments of companies in Israel.

Why not boycott Saudi oil?? The Arab countries are the worst for human rights violations for women, gays, non-muslims, anyone who breaks their moral codes are inhumanely punished. As British musician Johnny Rotten said, "If Elvis Costello wants to pull out of a gig in Israel because he's suddenly got this compassion for Palestinians, then good on him. But I have absolutely one rule, right? Until I see an Arab country, a Muslim country, with a democracy, I won't understand how anyone can have a problem with how they're treated." Amen to that!
Valley where the Jabbok River meets the Jordan. The location is Peniel where Jacob wrestled with the angel of God (Genesis 32:30).
This area of the date orchards is Gilal, mentioned in Joshua with the Israelites first camped after having crossed the Jordan River.
Judean wilderness.

Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4:1-4) to the west and Jericho would be to the east.

The Dead Sea, Mount Nebo in Jordan where God showed Moses the Promise Land and just beyond that the Plains of Moab.
Qumran is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. King Herod did away with the Levitical priests and put his own family as priests. The Essenes broke off living only by the oral and written law. They didn't like how the Israelites were assimilating with pagans. Before being massacred by Roman troops in 66 ad scrolls of papyrus, parchment, and animal skins were hidden. In 1947 a Bedouin looking for a stray goat, threw a stone into the opening of a cave and heard the clatter of something breaking. The next day he came back with his cousin. They found 8 jars of scrolls. The scrolls, known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, are a collection of just under 900 documents dating between 150 bc and 65 ad written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. The entire Old Testament with the exception of the book of Esther was found. Included in that was the entire book of Isaiah. Prior to finding the Dead Sea Scrolls the oldest Bible manuscripts dated to the 9th century. The Dead Sea manuscript texts agree with the 9th century texts.

Cave 4 where 90% of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Scrolls were found in 11 caves.
Caves are all over the mountains.
Wadi Qumran which is dry most of the year becomes a ravaging torrent when it rains, cave 4 is the lower hole where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.
Looking east.
The long narrow room is believed to be the scriptorium.
The Dead Sea, also called the Salt Sea sits at just under 1400' below sea level in the Jordan Rift Valley-it's the lowest elevation on the Earth's surface on dry land. The Dead Sea is 1240' deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. It has 33.7% salinity-8.6 times more salty than the ocean. An unusual feature of the Dead Sea is it discharges asphalt. The Egyptian mummification process used asphalt from the Dead Sea. Because of the high mineral content people come for therapeutic reasons.

Masada at sunset.
Dead Sea reflection.
Along the southwestern side of the Dead Sea is a 690' tall halite formation called Mount Sodom or Lot's Wife. The whole mountain area here is made of halite. This area is the Plain of Sodom (Genesis 18). Abraham's nephew Lot escaped to Zoar-which is just 3 kilometers away. Flee to the mountains and don't look back-"looking back" is trying to hold onto the world. The world will never accept literal Bible believers. Tolerance though for what was once deemed amoral has been redefined. What was once shameful and completely taboo moved to something that was done in secret, to something that became, "you live your life but don't bother me about it," now it's no longer kept to oneself-we have to allow it in all areas of life but now that isn't even enough. It's not just about "tolerance," we have to sanction and condone it-agree with it, otherwise we are persecuted for hate speech, bigotry. They thought it was a joke-the rescue from Sodom-people think the rapture is a joke too.

Our hotel in Ein Bokek is gorgeous. We arrived on Shabbat. The lobby smelled so good from these candles. After dinner I went for a walk with Anne, Richard, and Linda. I was so surprised how much here is owned by Russians.