Today’s tour had less to do with Biblical events but it did provide us with an interesting overview of the geo-political landscape of the country. Our morning travels started in the Golan Heights, the northern part of the country where we saw some old decommissioned military outposts. Our guide is not only an expert in the biblical history of the area, but he is also well versed on the military history of Israel, in part because he has been involved in a lot of it, serving in the Israeli Army. I can’t even begin to tell you the some of the great history lessons of the military battles that were won (and rarely) lost by Israel, but in most cases, with a great number of armies against them, Israel always came out on top. Our guide gives God the glory for every victory and for the reason that Israel has the land that it does today.
Our second stop was Nimrod’s castle that was built during the time of the Crusaders around 1200 AD. Although it changed hands numerous times, it was used by both Muslims and Christians until around the 15th century, when it was abandoned.
Next we headed to Caeserea Phillippi, a town with both Christian and Pagan roots depending on who the ruler of the time was. It was originally named just Caesarea, but to distinguish it from the port town of Caesarea, Herod’s son Phillip, added the name Phillippi when he became ruler over the region.
Biblical references that include the region of Caesarea Phillippi include Jesus sharing with Peter and the disciples “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:13), but for the most part the region was occupied by pagan idol worship. The farther we move from Jerusalem, the greater the prevalence of pagan idol worship.
Our visit here also gave us a chance to visit the headwaters of the Jordan River as it flows into the Sea of Galilee. This included a visit to a beautiful waterfall called Banas Falls.
Finally as we headed home we visited another Old Testament town that Joshua conquered, Hazor. If you read Joshua 11, you learn that Joshua destroyed the city and burned it to the ground. While today it is just an excavation site, the gates are very similar to Megiddo (which we visited on Day 1). Our guide was even able to show us some of the ashes that they had uncovered from the burning of the city (you’ll have to check out my husband’s Instagram or Facebook photo of the ashes which he held in his hand).
Tomorrow we will leave the shores of the Sea of Galilee and we will head to the Dead Sea. We will float in the sea and learn even more about the interesting things about this country. We will stay there for one night before we spend our final four days in Jerusalem.