A whole month, and I'm finally getting around to finishing my Israel posts now that finals and end of the semester assignments are over.
On this Saturday morning, a few of us decided to wake up to see the sun rise on the Sea of Galilee. Even though the mountains blocked most of the sunrise, it was still amazing to be there in the stillness of the morning have good conversations with some amazing people.
Another sunrise watcher offered to take a picture of us (I'm the second in from the left, in case you were wondering :).
This church is built near the most probably site for the story in Matthew 5 of Jesus sending the demons out of a possessed man and into a herd of pigs who then ran down the cliff into the Sea of Galilee. This side of the Sea of Galilee is known as "the other side" as it is where the pagans and Gentiles lived while the Jews lived on the opposite shore.
Our very own "wild man" who emerged from the cliffs while our professor read the story from the Bible.
In the Golan Heights there is a place called Gamla. This town housed a Jewish fortress during the Jewish rebellion in the first century. In 67 A.D. after a Roman siege of the town, over 5,000 Jews committed suicide rather than be conquered by their enemy.
Near the borders of Lebanon and Syria is this abandoned outpost. It used to be used by the Syrians to run their secret intelligence forces. Today, It is a huge, empty building that is falling apart and covered with graffiti.
Some of us had been researching the city of Dan for an archaeology class project, so we were wicked excited to see it in person. This city is located at the very northern part of Israel. It was strategically important because anyone travelling between Egypt and Mesopotamia had to pass by Dan. This was also where King Jeroboam instituted golden calf worship after the kingdom of Israel divided into the north and the south.
The metal structure shows how large the altar at Dan probably was.
This stone base was where the king of the city would sit by the gate and administer justice.
This gate was one of my favorite things (I'm a nerd, I can't help it). This mudbrick gate is from the Middle Bronze II era which means that it was around in the 18th century B.C.
In non-archaeologist terms, Abraham would have walked by this gate when he entered Canaan.
Abraham. Walked. By. This. Gate.
That still makes me so excited.
Banias was a center for the worship of Pan. The stream running by here flows into the Jordan River. It was here that Jesus, as told in Matthew 16:13-18, asked the disciples who people said He was, and Peter states, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus telling the disciples to be like a city on a hill makes a lot of sense. A city on a hill here can be seen from all over, night and day. The lightly colored buildings are juxtaposed with the dark mountains, and at night the lights reflect over the whole lake. Everyone knows where a city on a hill is. When Jesus said that, He was saying that we need to live in such a way that gives light to people from all around, not just to people who are close by.