12 August, 2013

Galilee, Part 1

Galilee is easily the most anticipated trip of the entire IBEX semester. It is 8 glorious days in northern Israel, and much of it really feels more like a vacation than a field study. Early Saturday morning arrived, and we all scrambled on the bus with our bags and books and eager souls!!! 

First stop: Aphek (located in the Sharon Plain, a section of the Coastal Plain). Paul was taken as prisoner from Jerusalem to Caesarea here. It was green and beautiful and a great way to start the trip.

Study break :)

Caesarea (Maritima) was next. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, this was a port city built by Herod the Great—it was the Roman administrative center of Samaria and Galilee during the time of Jesus. Part of the construction included Herod's palace. It all took 12 years to build and was pretty dang impressive in its heyday.

There was a large theater here used for entertainment, and it is likely it is where Herod Agrippa I died of his stomachache (Acts 12).

Mega amounts of love for these humans

And we walked down to the beach and of course I died since I have a love affair with the Med Sea.

Unlike other beaches, this one's sand was actually seashells. Millions. Everywhere.

Since there were the remains of ancient chariot race tracks, it was appropriate to recreate the games!!

I mean.. it was hilarious. hahahah

A lil play during the festival that was there

Ancient Caesarea ruins

Standing on the remnants of the harbor


Naw Bryant that's not dangerous at all :| haha

What's left of the Roman aqueduct

And then we climbed on top of it :)

After lunch, we made it to Mt. Carmel. This mountain was home to one of my favorite accounts in the Old Testament--it was the ultimate battleground between God and Baal (1 Kings 18). During Ahab's reign over Israel, the people began worshipping a false god, Baal. Elijah and the prophets' of Baal each prepared an altar with a sacrifice for their G/god. Fire was to be sent on the altar from whom the sacrifice was for. When the prophets of Baal called on their god from "morning till noon," nothing happened (even after slashing themselves with spears). Before Elijah called to God, he had water poured onto his altar four different times. And once he prayed, the sacrifice lit with fire.
1 Kings 18:38 "Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench."

We stopped on the side of the highway to visit a rolling stone tomb, dating to about 100 years after the time of Jesus. However, it's similar to the tomb that Jesus would have been buried in! It was used by the Jews who were driven from Jerusalem and forced to settle into Galilee due to the failure of the Second Jewish Revolt led by Bar Kochva.

And finally I made it to the tel of Megiddo after studying it relentlessly in my Archaeology class. Nice to know it's a real place ;) It's located in the Jezreel Valley (the bread basket of Israel, Hosea 2:22). Most of the ruins here are from Canaanite times with the remaining ruins being from the Israelite time period. It was a very coveted piece of land, and here are fortifications from King Solomon found here!

When Israel came to conquer the land, they were not fully successful in getting all the Canaanites out for two reasons: 1. God said it to be that way--the conquest was not going to happen in one week because that doesn’t require a lot of faith. Faith needs to persist. 2. Due to Israel’s unfaithfulness, there would still be foreigners in the land.

Overlooking the Jezreel Valley!

And finally, we made it to Tel Jezreel. It was at this location that 1 Kings 21 took place. Definitely a story worth reading. From here, you can see Mt. Gilboa where Gideon found his 300 men drinking out of a spring to go fight the Midianites.

Bill bought us all these amazing lil pitas filled with middle eastern goodness.. can't remember the name of them but they were a joy and comfort after a long day.

And in honor of my coke fiend of a boyfriend, I got one for myself :)

Day 2

The day started off with a spikey tree sighting. Never seen anything like it before heh

But the day really began with reading the account of Gideon and his 300 men at the Harod Spring (Judges 7). Gideon started with an army of 32,000 men, but through a few processes of elimination (including the event that took place at this spring), God narrowed his army down to 300. I'd explain in detail how in the world 301 men defeated the entire army of Midian, but because the words of Scripture are more powerful than my paraphrase, I encourage you to read the account yourself. 
God will make arrangements in our life to remedy our difficulties. He didn’t even give the 300 men swords. Doesn't matter if the odds are against you and you look like a fool in the world's eyes. Romans 8:31 "If God is for us, who can be against us?"

Hello Beth-shean! Such an impressive place. From what remained, you could easily tell that it was a beautiful, elaborate, and bustling city in its day. There are two references to this site in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 31 & Joshua 17). This is the place that Saul’s dead body was taken and hung on a wall as a war prize in order to mock his kingship.

Roman amphitheater

The boys sang for us ;)

Sitting on the "public latrine" of Beth-shean, aka ancient toilets!! The sign nearby said "A channel of running water beneath the seats provided drainage, and personal hygiene was achieved by a leaf attached to a twig." I died. hahahahaha

Demonstrators :)

Beth-Shean's "Judas tree"

Overlooking the tel, it's too big to be included in one photo though!

Overlooking the Harod Valley

Back on the bus

Next was Sachne, a natural spring swimming area! We jumped off rocks into the clear, warm water.. this was definitely the best part of the day. Enjoy the photos & vids of our time here :)

Of course I had to post some of our group's hilarious jumps :)

Look at these guys and their sweet, concerned faces. I was scared to jump in because I didn't believe them when they said the water was warm hahaha but they cheered me on! Thanks Briana for taking photos while I jumped in :)

I grabbed my iphone and took it swimming with us :)

What's everyone looking at? Well...

...basically there were man-eating fish in the spring :)

Tae's leg hahahahah

After lunch, our next stop was the Mount of Precipice. It provides a lookout over the town of Nazareth (hometown of Jesus) and Mt. Tabor (mentioned 3 times in the OT). 

Re-enacting Judges 4:21 haha


 Mt. Tabor

Our wing :)

Back on the bus.. saw some cow butts so I took a picture of them :)

And then they got offended :( hahah

Nazareth was the last stop for the day!! It's always strange in the coolest way to actually walk on the ground of a city that you knew was real but couldn't really comprehend. Nazareth is a real place, folks. First, we walked around a Greek Orthodox church (built over the Spring of Nazareth).

We began walking to the Church of Annunciation.. tradition says this is where Gabriel announced Jesus’s birth to Mary.

Church of Annunciation in Nazareth

There were mosaics and paintings of the whole annunciation episode representing just about every nation. The photo on the left is for my girl Shae :)

We read Luke 4:16-30 on the roof, and this account is where Jesus’s ministry in Galilee begins.

Something we did often was find church with awesome acoustics and sing acapella in them. This was the church we sang in!

Here are some recordings of the ones we did here :) and yes, I was placed in an IBEX group with the most fantastic singers and musicians. Singing & playing any sort of music is not my forte, so I was basically amazed every time these crazy people opened their beautiful mouths or grabbed an instrument. GAH!

Our first two days of our Galilee trip were packed. We were all pretty exhausted, but were SO excited for the days to come since thats when we finally made it to the Sea of Galilee :)! 
One thing that I was continually reassured of during this trip was the love of God's people. Here you see the photos of the specific events but there's no real way of capturing all the in-between. Seeing the sacrificial love of Christ displayed through His servants happened on the regs during this trip (well, during the whole semester!) and every moment I felt incredibly blessed to be with this group of people. 

Galilee, Part 2 in progress!