We awoke this morning with the knowledge that we would be packing our bags and heading to Jerusalem where we will be staying for the next 5 nights. Before we arrived there, however, there was plenty to see and do. Our tour began with a drive through Cana of Galilee where Jesus attended the wedding and performed his first miracle. We didn’t stop because we were on our way to Zippori. This town is not mentioned in the Bible but it is next door to Nazareth and the local legend is, that because the town was much bigger than Nazareth in Jesus day, it is likely that Jesus worked as a carpenter there. Whether that is true or not the ruins at Zippori are impressive, especially an incredible mosaic tile floor in a Roman mansion.
We then headed over the hill to Nazareth, the home town of Jesus when he was growing up. The modern city of Nazareth is quite large but we were able to stop at a place called Nazareth Village where they recreate the town as it would have been in Jesus day. It was incredible to see the Bible come to life as we entered a replica of Joseph’s carpentry shop, Mary’s kitchen and the synagogue where Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah and then was taken to be thrown off the cliff. (Luke 4:16-30) We were all given 1st century oil lamps as a souvenir of our time here where were to remind us of Jesus’ statement that he is the light of the world.
After our time in Nazareth we headed East by the mountains of Gilboa to the ancient city of Bet Shean. There we saw one of the best preserved Roman ruins in Israel and enjoyed walking on the main street of the Roman city, sitting in the theater seats listening to Isaac sing, and even pretending to relieve ourselves in an authentic Roman public bathroom on marble toilets. (see the picture of all the men) This is also the place in earlier times where Saul and his sons’ bodies were hung on the wall and then rescued by the men of Jabeshgilead. (I Samuel 31:10-13)
Upon completing our time at Bet Shean we began our long and long awaited drive up to Jerusalem. On the way we passed by Jericho and the spot in the wilderness where John the Baptist baptized in the river Jordan. Our ascent to Jerusalem began in the late afternoon and it was stunning to drive up to the holy city as the sun bathed it with light. We stopped on Mt Scopus to enjoy a glass of grape juice together and say a special blessing of thanks to God for bringing us to Jerusalem.
We are now enjoying our views from the hotel windows and excited to begin exploring this incredible city tomorrow morning. Enjoy the pictures and I’m enjoying all the comments, keep them coming. I also wanted to mention that you can spread the word about this blog if you think anyone else would be interested in following along.
Shalom from Jerusalem,