Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Galilee to Bet She'an

Our group left early to go to Tiberias, which is the largest city around the Sea of Galilee.  
We boarded a wooden boat, very similar to the ancient ones used during the time of Jesus.  
It was a crisp, beautiful day and we were thrilled to go out into the water!  The crew honored us by raising the US flag (and the Israeli flag) and playing the Star-Spangled Banner.  
We cruised around the Sea of Galilee and imagined Jesus walking on the water and calming the storm.   Beside the Sea, he chose his first disciples, healed the sick and preached the gospel to many.  
The Sea of Galilee was also referred to in Biblical times as the Sea of Tiberias, the Sea of Chinnereth  (Numb. 34:11; Josh. 12:3), the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5) and Lake Kinneret (Hebrew).  
We also learned about casting nets and had a demonstration.  
Unfortunately, we didn't catch anything.  :)
The nets were interesting and had plastic type tubing with weights on the bottom.  
The nets are still the same design as in Jesus' day, except for the type of material.  
Before the end of our cruise, we were treated to music - "Amazing Grace" sung by Elvis - 
and a typical Hebrew song where we learned the dance steps.  The Sea of Galilee 
wasn't as large as I imagined at 13 miles long and 7 miles wide AND it is about 
700 feet BELOW sea level.  The sea is the main source of fresh water for Israel as well 
as the center of tourism.  The Sea of Galilee was such a peaceful beginning to our day. 
We left Tiberias and passed through Cana, famous for the place that Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding.  Cana has many wedding chapels and sells lots of touristy items all having to do with weddings.  The town is mainly Muslim, but many foreigners come here to renew vows and to marry.  
Our next stop was Nazareth, where the Virgin Mary was told that she would have a 
son named Jesus. (Luke 1:26-27)  This is the place where Jesus grew up and learned the trade of a carpenter.  As it says in Luke (4:29-30), "..No prophet is accepted in the prophet's 
hometown", we also discovered that the majority of people here are Muslim.  
The Basilica of the Annunciation is also found in Nazareth.  
This Catholic church is said to be built over the place where Gabriel appeared to Mary.  
It is a magnificent church built on two levels in order to integrate and preserve the ancient site.  
Churches built upon churches were discovered during the excavation.  There appears to be a Byzantine church, a crusader church, then the grotto and now the Basilica - with a few other churches under the ones mentioned.   As in many places, when the first structure crumbled, they leveled it and built another one right on top! 
The modern basilica contains a wealth of art intended to enhance the splendor of the church.  
Many mosaics, all dedicated to honoring the Virgin Mary, grace the walls of the church hall and spill out into the covered portico.  Each of these have been donated by different Christian communities throughout the world.  
This one was donated by Columbia. 
           The USA gave a modern, yet spectacular Mary.
We enjoyed seeing the different versions of the Virgin and the 
outfits that were designed.  This one is from Thailand.  
The Virgin Mary is pictured from Mexico with the Virgin of Guadeloupe. 
The gift from Spain was so colorful.  
The Japanese Mary was dressed in a Kimono (and I love Baby Jesus' hair cut!).   
Everything in white is made of Mother of Pearl. 
Mary from Indonesia was beautifully done.  The mosaics were our favorite part of the facility. 
We continued our journey and stopped at Bet Alpha to see the synagogue. 
In 1928, members of the Kibbutz Hefziba were digging an irrigation trench and discovered the ancient synagogue of Beit Alfa.   The mosaic in the center of the room is interesting due to the unusual design.  The symbols in the top section are traditionally Jewish.  However, the middle section contains a zodiac which is most unusual for a church.  It is also intriguing for a Jewish house of worship to contain the Greek sun god, Helios, who is driving his chariot across the sky.  The bottom panel tells the story of Abraham's near sacrifice of his son Isaac.  It is one of the largest mosaics to be uncovered.  
  We stopped for lunch at a roadside restaurant for more shawarmas and falafals....
but SOME of us (not me) had McDonald's next door.  
Sitting next to us at the table were some Israeli soldiers.  
I couldn't resist snapping a picture with one of them!!  
We continued on to the Bet She'an National Park.  Bet She'an is a is a city in the Northern District of Israel which has played an important role historically due to its geographical location at the junction of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley.  
Bet She'an is one of the most ancient cities in the country.  It is a historical gem that was settled in the Chalcolithic Period (about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago).  
The city has had many conquerors, including the Egyptians and the Philistines.  Bet She'an became part of the kingdoms of David and Solomon and was eventually destroyed by fire, apparently at the hands of the King of Assyria (in 732 BC).
Bet She'an was rebuilt as a Hellenistic city about 2,300 years ago and renamed Scythopolis.     It increased in size to approx. 40,000 residents.    

Several impressive and luxurious buildings have been uncovered, including a public bath house, which is the largest found to date in Israel.  
The theatre is still used today for events and shows.  
They also discovered two magnificent colonnaded streets, a Roman temple and a large basilica marking the center of the city.   
After remaining at its peak for many years, it was again conquered by the Arabs sinking it to the status of a small town. Bet She'an was mentioned in Scripture in the tragedy of King Saul's defeat on nearby Mount Gilboa.  The city fell in an earthquake in 749 A.D. 

As we left the park, Israeli soldiers were gathering and stopped to talk.  
We had to snap some pictures of Mother and the soldiers.  We were well protected!  :) 
Of course, I had to have a picture for my 'collection' too!  

And for my Lagos friends asking the questions.... 
1) Yes, the guys had bullets - IN the clips (not their pockets)   
2) The weapon is an M-16. 
3) Yes, they know how to use them (and knew to keep them pointed DOWN!)
4) No, I didn't ASK to see the bullets this time!!  :) 

What a great day!  

2 comments:

Diana said...

I LOVED these pictures and the comments. I felt like I was walking through it with you (kinda!!). I got teary eyed realizing you were walking where Jesus walked. Thanks so much for sharing :-)

Diana said...

I absolutely loved these pictures and the comments you shared. I felt as though I was walking along with you. And I got teary eyed realizing you were walking where Jesus walked! Thanks so much for sharing :-)
P.S. I've tried multiple times to submit these so there is chance I have left a lot of comments!!