As we were leaving for Jerusalem traveling down the Jordan valley; Nola gave us the 4 A’s on touring. Anticipate: think, pray, map, talk. Approach: forget the past, look ahead. Acknowledge: be there, breathe it in. Afterthoughts: meditate, bible, maps, notes. These entries serve as an afterthought for me. Jerry from church greeted with me with the current issue of National Geographic and the cover story about Herod the great and the discovery of his tomb just south of Jerusalem. This led to a Wed. sermon that was more of a history lesson trying to quickly cover the times before Christ and the Herodian age. It allowed me to distinguish between Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, Herod Philip, and how they related to Herod Agrippa in Acts and his son Agrippa with Paul on trial before Felix. It really is amazing that I have never taken the time to understand the politics of the age. Since coming home maps, the bible and history have come alive
Going along the Jordan we stopped and saw the Roman ruins at Beth Shean. I was surprised to learn that this is where Saul’s body was strung up by the Philistines. I thought they were only along the coast. But the maps show that during and before Saul’s time the Philistines controlled Jezreel valley. I preached on this fact and how the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead came and rescued his body and buried it. Jabesh Gilead the rejected, attacked and finally defended by Saul and later commended by David. Tied them to the “half-saved, half-backslid, unfaithful” that God likes to use to confound the wise.
We learned that the date trees do not need a lot of water, and it was a Jewish landscaper who went into Iraq and smuggled out date seedling (Medjool dates) that were only in Iraq at that time. The Jordanian side of the river looks lush, but the Israeli side is barren as it is kept as a defensive perimeter. An island in the river used to be a place where Jews and Arabs would picnic until a mentally unstable Jordanian soldier killed 7 school girls.
We moved up the Jezreel Valley to go to Gideons springs called Harod spring where Gideon’s army was whittled down. Nola let us know that the Israeli Independence War started in Nov of 1947 when the UN voted to partition Palestine. The British leave and Israel declares Independence in May of 1948. The only American military officer allowed to help the Israelis was Micky Marcus who became David Stone while working on the highway to keep Israel proper connected to a Jerusalem that was being squeezed off by the Jordanians. 1970 was Black September when King Hussein kicked El Fatah out of Jordan.
We have to skirt around Jericho because of the politics of the day. It is the only green spot on the East side of the Judean hills. She refers to Amos 7: 14 and the tending of Sycamore trees, as this was something done by the herdsmen when they had to stay close to towns. We can see the Dead Sea as we start the ascent up to Jerusalem. You always go up to Jerusalem. We have the Psalms of Ascent sung by pilgrims going to Jerusalem. We pass by some Bedouin camps. What makes a Bedouin a Bedouin is total loyalty to the tribe and avenging for the tribe. We are heading for Mount Scopus, passing by a large development of houses. Nola lets us know that the complex houses 70,000 people. Jerusalem is being surrounded by strategically placed neighborhoods. Of all the area taken in the 1967 war only the vicinity of Jerusalem has been officially annexed by the Israeli state. Jerusalem is the capitol with no embassies, although America has started the process of establishing their embassy in Jerusalem, we will see if it happens. Jerusalem is a city of 700,000. On Mt Scopus is the Hebrew University established in 1925. The big question was would they teach in German or Hebrew. Logic said German since there were no textbooks in Hebrew, but the heart said Hebrew. The heart won.
Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt 20 times. As we cross the Gahanna valley we see a cable that was used to transport supplies into the Jewish quarter of the Old City during the war if Independence. They failed, and the area was used as a garbage dump except for the Arab houses along the West Wall. Jerusalem along with Bath England require all buildings to use local stone. Today, most buildings use cinder blocks with a facing of Jerusalem stone. It gives the city a ancient yet modern look. We are driving around and getting some overviews. We can see the 3 valleys that make up the city. The Kidron Valley separating the East Wall of the old city from the Mount of Olives, the Central Valley and the slicing along the Western Wall of the old city and the Gahanna Valley. All of these valleys meet at the foot of the City of David which was actually below the temple mount. We are going to end the day by sitting for a picture on the steps entering from the South to the temple mount. Nola can inform us that without a doubt Jesus walked on these stairs. Archeologists have found evidence that the steps continued down into the old City of David. Here is the site she recommended: http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/