Monthly Archives: April 2013

North of the Sea of Galilee

Most of our visits today were north of the Sea of Galilee. Here are some of the stop we made.

The fishing port of Tiberias, where we saw fishermen bringing in some large fish. One of the owners of the Ron Beach Hotel told us these large fish were used for fish oil.


Senir (Hasbani) River. One of the sources of the Jordan.

Dan. To photograph the Middle Bronze city gate (19th-18th century B.C.).

Beit Ussishkin Museum at Dan. The museum is mostly about the flora and fauna of the region, but there are a few pieces from the Dan excavations.

Hermon Stream Nature Reserve (or Banias River). To see the waterfall.

Omrit. Site of possible Herodian temple to Augustus. The road is horrible, and there is still a long walk to visit the site. It is really not prepared or intended for the casual visitor. Someday it should be.

Abel-beth-maacah (or Abel of Beth-maacah). A city called “a mother in Israel” (2 Samuel 20:19). We had a view of Mount Hermon with a small amount of snow still on the top.

Abel-beth-maacah and Mount Hermon. View toward east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Abel-beth-maacah and Mount Hermon. View toward east. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Metula. This Israeli town is on the border with Lebanon. We looked over into Lebanon.

Hula Lake/Agamon Lake. This is the restoration of a portion of Hula Lake that had been drained in the mid-20th century. Birds from Asia and Europe travel through the Great Rift and their way to Africa and back. This lake is a favorite stopping place for many of them.

It was a hot day, but an enjoyable one.

Morning has broken in Galilee

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A miscellany of sites on Monday

There are numerous small museum scattered across Israel. I had read about the Beit Sturman Museum at En Harod and had wanted to visit it. The Israel Museum Guide describes the museum in these terms:

Beit Sturman Museum is one of the biggest archaeological museums of the country. Rich collection of flora and fauna of the region. History of Jewish settlements in Israel valley. The museum is named in honour of one of the founders of kibbutz – Haim Sturman.

What really caught my attention was when I read that the Museum had a large collection of Roman milestones that were found in the Jezreel Valley.

Only seven milestones are visible in the photo below but there are dozens of others in the courtyard of the Museum. Many of them are broken, and very few of them have any visible inscription. I thought I recognized TR on one of them. I think this would indicate a milestone erected during the reign of the Emperor Trajan in the early 2nd century A.D.

Roman Milestones at Beit Sturman Museum, En Harod, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A few of the Roman Milestones displayed at the Beit Sturman Museum, En Harod, Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The museum has a display of flora and fauna of the Jezreel Valley, several cases of pottery from sites in the area, and a display of agricultural practices including the first bale of cotton grown in Israel. That brought back a lot of childhood memories of when I picked cotton and went to the gin with my father or grandfather in North Alabama.

Earlier we tried to visit the Spring of Harod, the place where Gideon gathered the 300 men to fight the Midianites (Judges 7:1-8). This site was closed when my group were scheduled to visit a few days ago. We thought, at the time, that there might be some flooding in the area. However, it was still closed today. Dan and I tried to enter through a hotel or guest house, but they refused us entry. When we asked why the park was closed they just said “bureaucracy.” I suggested it might be a form of “sequestration.”

We also visited Tell Shalim, thought to be the site of Salim in the duo Aenon near to Salim, where John the Baptist baptized after Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 3:23; 1:28). This is a place that would be impossible for a tour bus to go. It is about 8 miles south of Beth-shan, near the Jordan River.

There were a few other stops. We were disappointed when we were unable to get to the Roman Road at Golani Junction. A new road has been built east from the McDonald’s with a metal rail and a ditch that I didn’t think I would want to try to cross. Some individual travelers will be disappointed in this change.

Saturday and Sunday around Jerusalem

We have had two busy days. Yesterday we made arrangements to visit the so-called Solomon’s Pools south of Jerusalem, and a few other places in the Bethlehem area. The last time I was at the site was probably in the 70s. This is the sort of place that it would not be advisable to take a large tour group in a bus. Later I plan to show you some of the photos that I made and explain about the sites.

In the late afternoon we went down into the Shephelah to visit Khirbet Qeiyafa, the fortress overlooking the Elah Valley. I did not see many changes since my last visit in 2012.

This morning we visited the Israel Museum. I was just there last week, but enjoyed the time making some additional photos that I had overlooked before. Dan also visited the Herod the Great exhibit.

In the afternoon we drove north to Shiloh, the place where the tabernacle rested after the children of Israel entered the promised land (Joshua 18). A new viewing tower has been built, but is not yet ready for visitors. A young lady at the ticket booth/shop said they hope to have it open this month.

The old and new viewing towers at Shiloh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The old and new viewing towers at Shiloh. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

I thought the 27 NIS (about $8) was high for the condition of the site. A few of the older signs are visible, but no new ones. A small brochure was the only help the visitor has. Maybe this will improve with time.

We also visited Taybeh, a possible candidate for the site of Ephraim. This is the place to which Jesus retired prior to his crucifixion (John 11:54).

Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples. (John 11:54 ESV)

From Taybeh on the edge of the wilderness we continued to the Jordan Valley, then back up to Jerusalem.

The weather. Those who were with me last Sunday in Jerusalem, when it was chilly and rainy, will find it difficult to believe that it was 99 degrees here today with bright sunshine. Last week I had the heat on in the room. Tonight I have on the air.

A morning with Shmuel Browns

Shmuel Browns is an Israel Tour Guide. While he can handle any tours in Israel, he seems to specialize in taking care of individuals or small groups. Shmuel and I had not met till today, but we have come to know each other through our blogs and occasional correspondence. We decided to meet in person.

This morning Shmuel picked up Dan and me at the hotel. Last evening we had discussed where we might go to make some good photos. Several places were discussed, but we decided on the Herodion. Shmuel has developed a one day (or less) program to take a person/group to the Herodion, and then to see the Herod the Great exhibit at the Israel Museum.

I had been to the Herodion several times but had never spent much time in the lower Herodion. I was impressed with the things Shmuel showed us there. In the photo below he is explaining about a large Mikve (ritual bath) that was part of the complex built by Herod the Great.

Shmuel Browns, Israel Guide, at Lower Herodion. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shmuel Browns, Israel Tour Guide, at the Lower Herodion, Photo: Ferrell Jenkins.

On the way to the Herodion we stopped on the north side of the Mar Elias Monastery. The Greet Orthodox Monastery overlooks Bethlehem and the Herodion. Tradition has it that it is here where Elijah rested when he was fleeing from Jezebel (1 Kings 19:2ff.). It is also associated with more recent historical characters with the name Elias.

Across the road (north) is the ruin of the Kathisma (seat), an octagonal Byzantine church building discovered in 1992. A large stone in the center of the church is said to be where Mary rested on her way to Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-5). (Perhaps more about that later.) In the same area there is an old Olive grove. I enjoyed the beauty of this scene and thought you might also.

Olive trees near the Kathisma church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Olive trees near the Kathisma church. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shmuel has a nice web site with some great photographs. He also sells prints of his photos. Read all about it at Israel Tours | Israel Tour Guide.

From time to time I have someone who tells me they will have a free day or two while traveling in Israel on business. They want to know what they can see, or who could guide them. You need a guide in Jerusalem if you have never been there before. Shmuel would be a good man to call. All contact info is on his web page. I did not inquire about the costs, but you can check that when you contact him.

We had a great morning. Thanks, Shmuel.

Last day of the tour

Today was the final day of the 2013 Bible Land tour of Israel. We had some great visits today, but it has been a long day and I am about ready to turn in for the day.

Our group should be boarding their flight to the USA. My friend, Dan, arrived on time, but without his luggage. It went to LAX instead of TLV! Not an easy mistake to make.

We will be spending about a week or more traveling about the country.

Late this afternoon our group had dinner at a seaside restaurant in Joppa. I decided to share the beautiful sunset we saw about the time we finished eating.

Sunset on the Mediterranean from Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sunset on the Mediterranean from Joppa. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A nice conclusion to a wonderful, sunny day.

The Burnt House destroyed in A.D. 70

Our tour group visited several places in and near Jerusalem today. We began Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David (actually built by Herod the Great). We moved on through the Jewish Quarter to the Wohl Archaeological Museum. For general information about the Jewish Quarter see the informative web site dedicated to the area, here. Information about the Museum, where you may see the ruins of six houses built on the slope between the Upper City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, is available here. These houses indicate that some of the wealthiest residents of Jerusalem lived in them – perhaps the priestly class. These houses were destroyed in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Photos are not allowed in the Museum.

Then we went to the Burnt House – a house belonging to the Katros Family, a priestly family that made incense for the temple. This house also burned when Jerusalem was destroyed. The photo below shows the basement area of the house. An informative video describing what life might have been like in the months leading up to the destruction is shown.

Basement of the Burnt House destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Basement of the Burnt House destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The furnishings here also indicate wealth. Notice the stone jars and table. The area on the right side shows evidence that the house was burned.

A small display case displays a collections of small items found in the Burnt House. One of the very interesting items is a weight bearing the inscription “bar katros.”

Inscription mentioning the Kathros family. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Inscription mentioning the Katros family. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Katros family is mentioned in the Talmud as a priestly family that abused their position.

After visiting the Western Wall and the excavations south of the Temple Mount, we went to the Ramat Rachel Hotel for lunch. We only had time to drive by the Herodion before making our way to the Garden Tomb for our appointment.

Temple Mount, Pools, Jericho, Jordan River

Today was a great day for travel in and around Jerusalem. We started the day by visiting the Temple Mount. This is a place filled with Bible history relating to Abraham, David, Solomon, Jesus, and Peter (as well as all of the apostle). It is a place destroyed by the Babylonians (586 B.C.) and the Romans (A.D. 70).

The site has been under Islamic control since the 7th century.

We visited the Pools of Bethesda (John 5) and the Pool of Siloam (John 9).

Yesterday, by the time we visited Masada, Qumran, and Jericho, it was too late to visit the baptismal site on the Jordan River, a site known as Qasr el-Yahud. This site on the Israel side is across from the Jordanian site identified as Bethany beyond the Jordan (John 1:28).

We stopped in Jericho for lunch at the Temptations Restaurant. The restaurant is located on the south end of Tell es-Sultan, identified with Biblical Jericho (Joshua 3-6).

The restaurant has lots of parking space for tour buses and good food. That’s a good combination in the tourist industry. As I was leaving I noticed a sign with the wording “View of Jericho”, and thought I should check it out. It took a climb of 11 flights of stairs to reach the roof. It was worth it for the view which was exceptionally good in all directions.

The view to the north is of Tel es-Sultan. See below. You may notice some wires (cables) across the photo. These are for the cable car that goes up to the traditional Mount of Temptation (Matthew 4).

Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) from the south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) from the south. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Afterwards we visited the Jordan River. On the way back to Jerusalem we stopped by the St. George Monastery in the wilderness of Judea. The monastery building appear to hang on the side of a cliff overlooking the Wadi Qilt. Quite a sight.

We stopped at the Inn of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) which now houses many mosaic floors from Jewish synagogues, Samaritan Synagogues, and Byzantine Churches, as well as a few other interesting artifacts.

It was a great day.

The 2013 group in Jerusalem

It is traditional for groups to have a photo made on the Mount of Olives with a view of Jerusalem in the background. I like the tradition, so I try to do that each time I bring a group to Israel.

Here is the photo we made this morning. You may click on the photo for a larger image.

Jenkins Bible Land Group - Jerusalem - April 22, 2013.

Jenkins Bible Land Group – Jerusalem – April 22, 2013.

In addition to the Mount of Olives, we visited the Garden of Gethsemane on the western slope of the Mount of Olives. After that we made our way to the Christian Quarter of the Old City to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. A local lunch was enjoyed in the Old City.

In the early afternoon we went to the Israel Museum. There were three major things to see there:

  1. The Second Temple Model of Jerusalem.
  2. The Shrine of the Book.
  3. The Israel Museum. We visited the Herod the Great: the kings final journey exhibit as well as the archaeology section of the Museum.

There was time enough to go to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity, and to do some shopping at the Kando shop.

Everyone in our group seems to be staying well. For this, we are thankful.

A pleasant stop in Samaria

It was still raining quite a bit in the north of the country yesterday, but we enjoyed some good visits. The morning was clear for the visit to Beth Shean (Beth-shan). We approached the overlook of the Jezreel Valley from Jezreel in a light drizzle.

From that spot one gets a view of Jezreel Valley, Mount Gilboa, the Hill of Moreh, and the spring below Jezreel. We discussed Gideon and the Midianites, the Ahab and Jezebel and their deaths, Naboth’s Vineyard, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the coming of Jehu. What a great visual backdrop this provided!

We were able to travel along the central mountain range through Samaria. This is not always possible when traveling in the country. The road up to the Hill of Samaria is in bad repair (what a shame), but our driver was able to negotiate the ruts and get us to the top.

I have eaten several times before at the Samaria Restaurant in Sebastia. It is located across from the Roman agora of ancient Samaria. The owner, Mahmud Ghazal is a pleasant person. He studied at the University of Alabama, with a degree from UAB. If you are able to go to Samaria I suggest you try this restaurant, and then visit his shop.

There is a nice wall exhibit in the restaurant showing some of the antiques from the area – from the not too distant past. Take a look.

Antiques at the Samaria Restaurant, Sebastia, Palestine. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Antiques at the Samaria Restaurant, Sebastia, Palestine. Most of these have to do with agricultural practices. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Most of these antiques have to do with agricultural practices that were common in Bible times. On the right you have a wooden plow with a metal plow point. On the left is a threshing sledge. On the right you see two winnowing forks and a sickle. I don’t have the time to list biblical references for all of these items. Many of them we have discussed before on this blog.

The rain let up long enough for us to have a good visit of the archaeological ruins of ancient Samaria.

We also stopped at Jacob’s Well, drove up on Mount Gerizim for a view of the area below. Then we continued to our hotel in Jerusalem.

Rain was forecast for Jerusalem today, so we went through the Wilderness of Judea and drove along the Dead Sea to Masada. There were large crowds at Masada. Some of them probably had the same idea we did and changed their plan to be in a dry place for the day.

Hopefully the skies will be clear tomorrow. We are having a great learning experience, and a great time, anyway.