North of the Galilee

It was a rainy day that had us moving north towards Mt. Herman. Our guide was visibly happy about the rains, and even though it would not help our tour, I was also. You begin to share Nola’s nationalist feelings for the state of Israel while you share this time with her. We visited the excavated ruins of Chorazin. It was obviously a place of some substance at one time, before Jesus cursed it during His time of ministry. Eusebius described the city as deserted 3 centuries later.


We then moved north through the Hula valley looking at the Golan Heights above us. Hoping for the rain to subside we made a stop at a kibbutz that specialized in making “Naot” shoes. Joan bought some shoes for our first colder winter here in the Midwest. We kind of meandered along the back roads of this very productive valley. These are the locations of some of the headwaters of the Jordan. We went down one road towards the Golan Heights lined with Eucalyptus trees on both sides of the road. Nola explained that these trees had been planted so that military vehicles could move into position without being spotted by the Syrians above. In the 1967 war this tactic proved providential in the Israeli assault against the Golan Heights.


The land had originally been a malaria infested swamp. The Israeli settlers began the task of reclaiming the land by building canals and draining the swampy areas turning it into a very productive land. We visited the Dan spring which is the main source of the Jordan. Learned that this was not the land originally promised to Dan, but they wanted a less defended area to take so they came up here. We then went further north to Caesarea Phillipi or Banias Spring. This is the location for the center of Pan worship, the half animal, half god. It engenders immorality. This is where Jesus made the statement that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church. For us, it is the acknowledgement that God’s church can be planted and thrive in any environment. Jesus took his disciples on this 30 mile journey on foot to come to this center of idolatry and immorality to make a clear statement to them and us today.


We went further up Mt. Herman for a lunch in a Druze owned restaurant. The rain and clouds prevented us from seeing much, so instead of going further up Mt. Herman we went south along the top of the Golan Heights observing the concrete fortifications built by the Syrians. We heard the story about the Israeli spy in Damascus who suggested to the Syrians to plant Eucalyptus trees by their concrete fortifications for shade. They took his advise making it very easy for the Israeli forces to zero in on their locations. His adventures, capture and death are recorded in the book “Our Man in Damascus”.


We came back down to the Sea of Galilee, stopped at a church where Jesus healed the demoniac and cast the demons into the pigs. Continued driving around the whole of the lake, seeing a small Syrian tank marking the furthest advance of Syrian forces in the war of independence in 48. That night Nola took us for a walk downtown to some shops. The orthodox families strolling around the shopping area seemed to not mind our presence, but I know we stood out more than they did.

About hansston

Pastor a church in Sparta.
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