05 March, 2013

Jerusalem Approaches

This field study focused on the different ways to get into the city of Jerusalem. It is most easily accessed from the north, but there are also eastern and southern approaches as well. We had a great time exploring the land!!

We started out overlooking the Rephaim Valley, which is mentioned in Isaiah 17:4 and Song of Solomon 2:17. 2 Samuel 5 tells us the Philistines used the route through this valley twice to attack Jerusalem.. both times were unsuccessful lolz.

Entering Palestine, we made our way through the tall cement barricade into Bethlehem. This wall serves as protection and a warning against the rebellious acts that had taken place beforehand. As you can see.. it is allll graffitied up! Almost entirely covered. Truly a cool thing to witness.

We had some free time and explored around Bethlehem for a little while. My group and I were pleasantly surprised to see how much we enjoyed being here. Something about this town totally captured our hearts. Unfortunately I was too busy seeing everything with my eyes that I didn't capture much on camera hahah..sorry.

But at the end of our free time, we went to a little coffee shop that sold some wood carvings. Bethlehem is of course the town Jesus was born in, so most of these carvings represent Jesus and his family.

The Church of the Nativity.. traditionally accepted to be the location of Jesus's birth.

Although the ground the church stands on may not have been the place my Savior was born, it was really awesome to be there. I finally made it to Bethlehem, probably the first biblical town my ears ever heard of. The Bible becomes that much more real when you actually see first hand that the places are here on the same earth as you are.

These are the fields of Bethlehem that David would have been shepherding over. Cool.

Two lil boys were playing with slingshots nearby.. so naturally Bill called them over :) haha

A few modern day shepherds crossed our path

We got back on the bus and were dropped off at Herodium, a huge fortress that Herod the Great built up on a natural mountain. It provided him with an escape path to Masada if he needed it, in the case that Mark Antony wanted to get rid of him. He named this fortress in his honor, which holds significance since he built many, many other fantastic buildings and fortresses during his reign. He instructed his sons to bury him here, and so this is where his tomb resides.

He really knew what he was doing when he chose this location. There are not many like it. It is the highest point for what looks like miles, and the view is amazing. When you stand on top, you really are looking down at everything, therefore everything below you is looking up.. Herod liked to be exalted hah.

 Checking out a model of what Herodium would have looked like in its heyday.

Really, the view was astounding!

Then we walked down into the excavated part and listened to Bill then played around for bit :)

 Inside a cave underneath Herodium

We walked down to the bottom part of Herodium where there used to be an amphitheater and a giant pool and other festivity type things

Pillar hugger!!!!!

 Playing in the pool.. :)

Army sheep man and his fluffy soldiers!! He also offered to buy one of the girls for a few camels. hahahah

Next we went to Hebron, the southern most part of our trip today. This is the place Abraham lived after separating from Lot, and it's here that he is visited by three men who inform tell him he is going to have a son (Genesis 23). 
Hebron is probs most famous for its tombs of the patriarchs though. It holds the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, and Leah. Below is the building that contains them.

The tombs of Sarah, Leah, and Abraham.

So inside this place we had to wear these hilarious coverings.

After leaving the tombs, one of the soldiers in Hebron let some of us take pics in this big thing haha

On our way back to the moshav, we made a pit stop at a viewpoint that you can see Jerusalem from and other good places we've visited before.

So, this is Becky. and basically it's a crime we didn't know each other before IBEX. I praise God for these kind of friendships.. ones of love and understanding. She gets me and I get her and it's a great thing.. hahaha :)

I also praise God for this fabulous beauty, Annelise :) she's a total lover and has a heart bigger than the Mediterranean sea. Her friendship means a lot to me.

And since I'm talking about the greatness of the people in our group, all must make it a point to get to know these girls. So so so sweet. I didn't know them prior to IBEX either and I just couldn't be more thankful to have the opportunity to get to know them!!

These are just the photos of some people that were captured in the four minutes we were at this viewpoint, but truly I can't thank God enough for the group of students and faculty I am surrounded by here. They all hold such a special place in my heart.