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.
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.
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.