Monthly Archives: May 2010

Our group heads for home

Our tour of Israel and Jordan came to an end this evening as the group went to the Ben Gurion International Airport for departure to the United States.

We visited a variety of sites today, but spent most of our time in the Shephelah (lowlands).  We are informed in 2 Chronicles about the activity of King Uzziah (792–740 B.C.) in the  Shephelah.

And he built towers in the wilderness and cut out many cisterns, for he had large herds, both in the Shephelah and in the plain, and he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil. (2 Chronicles 26:10 ESV)

Wheat fields are in abundance in the Shephelah today.

A Wheat Field in the Shephelah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A Wheat Field in the Shephelah. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Elizabeth and I said goodbye to our tour group and turned to Jerusalem. We plan to visit several more sites in Israel before returning home. By now the group should have begun their 13 hour flight home.

— ♦ —

Update: May 11. Last evening before going to bed I began tracking the flight of our friends returning home. When I checked it this morning I noticed that they have been routed north across Turkey, Eastern Europe, and north of Iceland. The flight continued across Greenland. Now they are headed south over Canada toward the Great Lakes area. The flight is delayed by 2 hours. This is because of the Iceland Volcano. A friend returning from Greece to the USA told me a similar story about his flight.

Here and there in Jerusalem

Today we visited the Temple Mount, presently the site of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque. This site is thought to be the place where Abraham made preparations to offer Isaac.

He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:2 ESV)

The temple of the LORD was constructed by Solomon on Mount Moriah.

Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to David his father, at the place that David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. (2 Chronicles 3:1 ESV)

The Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple in 586 B.C. After the Jews returned from Babylonian Exile, the temple was rebuilt. In the days of Herod the Great the temple was virtually reconstructed beginning in about 20 B.C. (John 2:20). The temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The photo today shows the Western Wall which served as the retaining wall built by Herod the Great around the Temple Mount. On the temple platform you will see the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aksa Mosque. The Mount of Olives is in the distance to the east of Jerusalem.

Western Wall Plaza. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Western Wall Plaza. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Click on the photo for a larger image.

We visited several other sites in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Shrine of the Book and the Second Temple Model at the Israel Museum.

A beautiful backdrop for a photo

The city of Jerusalem provides a beautiful backdrop for a group photo. We almost always have a photo made of the group from the Mount of Olives with the city of Jerusalem in the background.

Bible Land Tour Group in Jerusalem - May 8, 2010.

Bible Land Tour Group in Jerusalem - May 8, 2010.

At this time of year there are no clouds to be seen, but the sky is clear. Click on the photo of our group of 46 travelers, plus our guide and driver, for a larger image. This will allow you to pick out any of the persons you may know. These folks are from numerous states ranging from the Northwest to Florida and Southern California to the Midwest.

We crossed out of Israel into the region controlled by the Palestinian Authority to visit Bethlehem. There we visited the Church of the Nativity and (one of) the Shepherd’s Fields. Tourists always enjoy shopping in Bethlehem. Specialties include olive wood carvings, mother of pearl, and jewelry. In the past I have enjoyed visiting a store operated by two brothers, but in the years of the Second Intifada they closed the store and moved to the USA where they had gained citizenship.

Today we visited a shop with some history — the Kando Store. One does not have to read very much about the early history of the Dead Sea Scrolls to encounter the name Kando. He was the shopkeeper who bought some of the original scrolls from the bedouin. In those years he operated a store directly across from the American Schools of Oriental Research (now the Albright Institute) in East Jerusalem (then in Jordan). I think it was 1969 (or 1970 or 1971) when Melvin Curry and I went to Kando’s antiquities shop and purchased about $1,000 worth of antiquities for Florida College. Those antiquities are now displayed in the Chatlos Library on the campus in Temple Terrace, FL.  They have been used in the Bible and Archaeology class many times. Today $1,000 would buy only about 4 good Herodian lamps, but we got a nice collection back then.

Kando was a Syrian Christian whose full name was Khalil Iskander Shahin. His name appears many times on the page describing the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Schøyen Collection. His family now operates the Kando Store in Bethlehem. All of the scrolls, and things pertaining to the scrolls, that came to the hands of Kando, have now been disposed of except for the original jar in which the Temple Scrolls was found.

I was pleased to meet Shibly, the grandson of Kando, and have my photo made with him. You can see the original jar in the case between us.

Shibly, grandson of Kando, the Temple Scroll Jar, and Ferrell Jenkins.

Shibly, grandson of Kando, the Temple Scroll Jar, and Ferrell Jenkins.

It was 1956-57 when I began reading about the Dead Sea Scrolls. Being in the Kando Store today was an added excitement to any already great day of touring.

A full day in Jerusalem

Our visits today included the City of David excavations. What a tremendous work has been done here. After visiting the work done by Eilat Mazar, of what she thinks is the palace of David (many think this is an overstatement of the evidence), we visited the work done by Yigal Shiloh from 1978 to 1985, walked through the Canaanite water system, visited the Pool of Siloam, then left the area along steps leading up toward the Temple Mount. At some point along the way we were in the sewer of ancient Jerusalem until exiting on the street. We walked completely around the City of David.

For a photo today I want to share a view of the Temple Mount area to the Mount of Olives. This photo was made from St. Peter in Gallicantu, the supposed house of Caiaphas and Annas.

View of theTemple Mount and Mount of Olives.

View of the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We also visited Jaffa Gate and saw the newly renovated gate.  Here is how it looks today. Nice, I think.

Jaffa Gate - Newly renovated 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Newly renovated Jaffa Gate, 2010. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Pool of Bethesda, other sites along the way, and St. Peter in Gallicantu, we returned to the comfort of our hotel.

Back in Israel from Jordan

Yesterday we visited Petra and enjoyed the evening on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan. I did not have a good connection at the Dead Sea hotel, so I was unable to post anything.

This morning we crossed back into Israel. These crossings always take a bit of time. We left our hotel at 8 a.m. and arrived at the border before 9:00 a.m. It probably took an hour or more to complete the procedures.

We visited Masada, Qumran, and Jericho. I am sure that I will later want to tell you some things about Jericho, but it will have to wait. After I take care of some of the details of the tour with a group of 46 persons it doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy for blogging.

Everyone in our group is doing well. I don’t think there is anyone who is not enjoying this travel experience.

Tuesday we went to Mount Nebo. From there it is possible to see the northern end of the Dead Sea. I think the view was the clearest I have ever seen, and I have been there numerous times since 1967.

The Dead Sea as seen from Mount Nebo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Dead Sea as seen from Mount Nebo. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Mount Nebo is the place from which Moses viewed the land that the LORD had promised to Abraham’s seed (Deuteronomy 34:1-8).

Some of the other members of our group are posting interesting material. Scroll down to May 2 for a post containing the links.

The Jordan River today

Today we returned to the Jordan Valley (Roman Perea) to a site designated Bethany Beyond the Jordan in the country of Jordan. Enough evidence was presented to easily convince various religious orders to build new churches in the area. The site on the west bank of the Jordan that I visited in 1967 has been closed to the general public since June of 1967 I think.

You will see by the photo that I made this morning that the river is extremely low. Just last evening I read the article from The Jerusalem Post by way of the Bible Places Blog about the study that says the river will be dry by next year.

Jordan River at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jordan River at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Now that Jordan is seeing many tourists come to the eastern side of the river, Israel is preparing to open the site on the western side of the river. There were several people on the Israel side today where construction continues.

Jordan River Baptism Site in Israel and Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jordan River Baptism Site in Israel and Jordan. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

In spite of the fact that the river water is reported to be mostly sewage, several were being baptized, or dipping themselves, in the water when we were there.

These things took place in Bethany beyond the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:28 NAU)

We also visited Mount Nebo and Madaba before traveling south about 4 hours to Petra for the night.

The Roman Army & Chariot Experience in Jerash

Jerash was one of the cities of the Decapolis in New Testament times. The impressive Roman ruins include a monumental arch, a hippodrome, s theater, a well-preserved cardo, and numerous byzantine churches. The Roman Emperor Hadrian visited Jerash about 130 A.D.

Hadrian's Monumental Arch at Jerash. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Hadrian's Monumental Arch at Jerash. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

We crossed from Israel into Jordan at the Sheik Hussein bridge a few miles south of Bethshean. Our plan was to be at the 11 a.m. RACE (Roman Army Chariot Experience) at Jerash. Because it took a little longer at the bridge, we had to attend the 2 p.m. show. The show was good, but the sun was already to the back of the performers. This caused the photos to be less than ideal. After the show I made a few photos in the Hippodrome with the sun over my shoulder. One of the young ladies in our group decided she would like to ride in the chariot. See for yourself.

Erin gets a chariot ride at Jerash. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Erin takes a chariot ride at Jerash. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When Jesus traveled through the Decapolis He possibly visited the area around Jerash (Mark 7:31).

North of the Sea of Galilee

Today we visited several sites north of the Sea of Galilee. The first stop was at Hazor. Among the things of interest in the excavations is the water system dating back to the time of Ahab, king of Israel (874/3– 853 B.C.) This system was found in 1969. Every ancient city had to have strong walls, a store of food, and water. Sometimes this problem required ingenious solutions.

Iron Age Water System at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Iron Age Water System at Hazor. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After Hazor we continued north to Caesarea Philippi and Dan. Then we returned to Tiberias through the Golan Heights and the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee.

When we reached the Sea of Galilee we made a stop at the Jordan River to make some photos. Here is one of the photos of the river at that point.

Jordan River north of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jordan River north of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Fellow Bloggers. Several of my fellow travelers are writing blogs about the tour. Each one has a special purpose in writing. Several times I have mentioned Journeys With Jane. Jane writes for her grandchildren and her friends back home.

Tabatha is a young mother who is writing for her children and friends. She writes under the title Time With Tabatha. I see that she conned her husband into writing today.

Sharon is a young professional who writes under the title Picture This. The pictures are good.

James is a young man who is writing for his friends under the title TheJamesMiller.

Each of these writes interesting, human interest things that I do not address. Take a look. There may be others, but they haven’t told me.

A great day in Galilee

After breakfast our group walked to the dock in Tiberias and boarded a boat for a ride on the Sea of Galilee. At first it appeared that it might be a bit hazy on the sea. However, as we moved along the sky cleared and it turned out to be a wonderful day for photographs and teaching about the sites associated with the ministry of Jesus.

A few of the tour members have been to Israel before, but for most of them it is the first trip. It doesn’t matter how many times one comes here he/she always learns something new.

I had arranged earlier with our tour guide and tour company to have a demonstration of cast net fishing on the sea and to sail past the Cove of the Sower, the name given to the site where Jesus taught from a boat to people sitting on the shore.

Again he began to teach by the lake. Such a large crowd gathered around him that he got into a boat on the lake and sat there while the whole crowd was on the shore by the lake. (Mark 4:1 NET)

The view of the traditional Mount of Beatitudes (Matthew 6-7) was tremendous. The appearance of the hill has changed over the years. Trees have grown up around the church. A larger building, painted a light color, has made the site less aesthetically appealing. The hillside is filled with agricultural projects. Did Jesus really speak the Sermon on the Mount here? If it wasn’t here, it could not have been far away. The precise spot matters little.

The Mount of Beatitudes. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Mount of Beatitudes. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Click on the photo for a larger image.

We turned west and sailed to Nof Ginosar in the land of Gennesaret (the English equivalent).

After they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and anchored there. (Mark 6:53 NET)

As we approached the shore I noticed one of the ships with an interesting figurehead of a bird, and captured this photo of the Via Maris, the road that leads from Migdal (Magdala) eastward.

The Via Maris from the Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Via Maris from the Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Sea of Galilee is extremely low. The area where you see the blue shade and cabanas now serves as a beach. A few years ago it was covered with water.

We did a lot more today, but that’s it for tonight. Everyone in the group appears to be in good health and enjoying the experience.