Israel Day Two

A group shot when we arrived in Israel (missing Cindy)

A group shot when we arrived in Israel (missing Cindy)

We slept pretty well last evening despite our circadian rhythms being all out of sorts. We had an excellent buffet breakfast at our hotel before climbing onto the bus at 8:10. We then made our way northward through the Mediterranean Coastal Plain to a very important historical city, Caesarea Maritime.

Looking out over the Mediterranean from our balcony at Netanya

Looking out over the Mediterranean from our balcony at Netanya

In 21 BC, Herod the Great built a coastal city in honor of the emperor Caesar Augustus (hence the name). Herod designed an impressive harbor which took twelve years to complete using material which allowed the concrete to set underwater. He also constructed an aqueduct to bring fresh water from the base of Mt. Carmel, nearly ten miles away. He also constructed a Hippodrome, a theater, and an amphitheater for the city’s inhabitants. It was in Caesarea that Pontius Pilate ruled during the time of Christ. It was here that Peter visited Cornelius’ home to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. Paul also used Caesarea as the port from which to launch his missionary journeys, and he was imprisoned here for two years before appealing to Rome.

Ancient Roman statuary recovered from Caesarea.

Ancient Roman statuary recovered from Caesarea.

The Roman Theater at Caesarea

The Roman Theater at Caesarea

Roman Arch leaving the theater

Roman Arch leaving the theater

A replica casting of the Pilate Stone, discovered at Caesarea, containing an inscription which confirms the historicity of Pontius Pilate as prefect of Judea.  This is the only archaeological find to do so.

A replica casting of the Pilate Stone, discovered at Caesarea, containing an inscription which confirms the historicity of Pontius Pilate as prefect of Judea. This is the only archaeological find to do so.

Herod the Great's lower palace at Caesarea, complete with swimming pool (That central water filled area is actually the pool) and original mosaic floors.

Herod the Great’s lower palace at Caesarea, complete with swimming pool (That central water filled area is actually the pool) and original mosaic floors.

Standing at the water front near the lower palace, the hippodrome off to our right.

Standing at the water front near the lower palace, the hippodrome off to our right.

Standing in front of the hippodrome, where 1st century Romans enjoyed their chariot races and later gladiatorial games.

Standing in front of the hippodrome, where 1st century Romans enjoyed their chariot races and later gladiatorial games.

The walls of the crusader city at Caesarea surrounded by moat.

The walls of the crusader city at Caesarea surrounded by moat.

Herod's aqueduct which brought fresh water to Caesarea from 10 miles away

Herod’s aqueduct which brought fresh water to Caesarea from 10 miles away

Cindy among the ancient statues

Cindy among the ancient statues

From Caesarea, we continued on to Mt. Carmel, which is the name of a mountain range which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Mt. Carmel, a gorgeous mountain, was often referenced as a symbol of beauty and fertility. Solomon’s Song compares his lover’s head to Mt. Carmel. This mountain is best known for being the location of Elijah’s showdown with the prophets of Baal. It was this mountain that hosted the competition to show who is the true God, Baal or Jehovah. I Kings 18 contains the entertaining story in which the God of Elijah responds with fire to consume the offering after the prophets of Baal have valiantly tried, but failed, to get Baal to do the same. The view from Mt. Carmel out over the Jezreel Valley (a.k.a., The Valley of Megiddo) was amazing. This large fertile valley (approximately 15 x 30 miles) sprawled before us, flanked by other mountains referenced in the scriptures, such as Mt. Tabor, Mt. Moreh, and Mt. Gilboa, the mountains of Galilee and the mountains of Samaria.

The beautiful Jezreel Valley from atop Mt. Carmel

The beautiful Jezreel Valley from atop Mt. Carmel

Another view across the valley with Mt. Tabor to the left, and Mt. Gilboa to the right

Another view across the valley with Mt. Tabor to the left, and Mt. Gilboa to the right

The monument at the Carmelite monastery atop Mt. Carmel commemorating Elijah's victory over the prophet's of Baal

The monument at the Carmelite monastery atop Mt. Carmel commemorating Elijah’s victory over the prophet’s of Baal

The monastery church on Mt. Carmel

The monastery church on Mt. Carmel

After spending some time on Mt. Carmel, we had lunch at a Druze village. The Druze are a religious group that are neither Muslim, Jewish, or Christian. They have their own religion, actually an offshoot of Islam and have been often persecuted through the ages. After lunch, in which we enjoyed falafel, we journeyed on to Tel Megiddo. A tel is an ancient site in which layer upon layer of successive towns have been built. Megiddo (from which we get the word Armageddon) was located at the strategic site where the middle of the three passes from the coastal plain to the interior crosses the Carmel range. Megiddo is a very old site where 26 layers of cities lie beneath the tel. We took a very interesting walk down into the shaft into which fresh water was brought into the city from the spring outside by tunneling beneath the city. At Megiddo and the plain on which it lies were fought many battles over the centuries. This expansive valley is a crossroads between the powerful civilizations of Mesopotamia and the powerful Egyptian civilization.

A 1st century tomb along the roadside with the stand still standing next to the opening.

A 1st century tomb along the roadside with the stand still standing next to the opening.

Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo

The walled gate at the entrance into Megiddo

The walled gate at the entrance into Megiddo

Tel Megiddo: The rounded stone structure is an ancient Canaanite altar.

Tel Megiddo: The rounded stone structure is an ancient Canaanite altar.

Mt. Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration, as seen from Megiddo

Mt. Tabor, the Mount of Transfiguration, as seen from Megiddo

A grainery at Megiddo with spiral stairs down into the bottom of the storage facility

A grainery at Megiddo with spiral stairs down into the bottom of the storage facility

Water troughs for the horses in the stable at Megiddo , dating to roughly 1000 BC

Water troughs for the horses in the stable at Megiddo , dating to roughly 1000 BC

Cindy Carey, charioteer at Megiddo

Cindy Carey, charioteer at Megiddo

An illustration of the water system at Megiddo

An illustration of the water system at Megiddo

The ancient steps leading down into the water system at Megiddo

The ancient steps leading down into the water system at Megiddo

The modern steps leading down into the water shaft, which we descended.

The modern steps leading down into the water shaft, which we descended.

From Megiddo, we journeyed to the Mount of Transfiguration, Mt. Tabor, where we transferred form our large bus to smaller taxies in order to transit the winding, narrow, hairpin curves up the side of the mountain. Once at the top, we visited the Roman Catholic Church of the Transfiguration, a beautiful 20th century church which marks the place where Christ was transfigured with Moses and Elijah before three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1-9). There is also an Orthodox church which sits atop the mountain which we were unable to visit. The mountain was surprisingly high and steep, prompting Father Al to remark that now he knows why only three of the disciples wanted to accompany Jesus up the mountain. The view from atop Mt. Tabor across the Jezreel Valley was once again glorious.

The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration atop Mt. Tabor. A 20th century church built on the ruins of a 4th-6th century Byzantine church and a 12th century Crusader Church.

The Catholic Church of the Transfiguration atop Mt. Tabor. A 20th century church built on the ruins of a 4th-6th century Byzantine church and a 12th century Crusader Church.

Mosaic tiles from the Ancient church in the Elijah Chapel to the right prior to entering the church.

Mosaic tiles from the Ancient church in the Elijah Chapel to the right prior to entering the church.

The nave and apse of the Church of the Transfiguration

The nave and apse of the Church of the Transfiguration

The golden mosaic of the apse which represents Jesus' transfiguration.  On August 6th, the day of the transfiguration on some church calendars, the sun strikes a glass plate on the floor illuminating the dome.

The golden mosaic of the apse which represents Jesus’ transfiguration. On August 6th, the day of the transfiguration on some church calendars, the sun strikes a glass plate on the floor illuminating the dome.

Cindy with one of the Franciscan monks in the Church of the Transfiguration.  He belongs to the monastery atop Mt. Tabor which runs the church.

Cindy with one of the Franciscan monks in the Church of the Transfiguration. He belongs to the monastery atop Mt. Tabor which runs the church.

A glimpse of the Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration

A glimpse of the Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration

From the Mountain of Transfiguration, we reboarded the bus and headed toward the Sea of Galilee, where we stopped at Magdala, the hometown of Mary Magdalene (Luke 8:2). How breathtaking it was to descend from the heights into the town of Magdala, situated right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. We were able to visit the site where a 1st century synagogue, dating from the time of Christ, has just recently been discovered and excavated. Afterwards, we walked over to the contemporary Catholic Church constructed above the forum of the ancient town of Magdala. Entering the church at Magdala constituted my first teary-eyed moment as I gazed beyond the altar to the boat-shaped podium with a cross for a mast, and beyond that to gaze upon the waters of the Sea of Galilee. Wow!

Cindy stands in front of the synagogue, actually quite small.  Synagogues dating before the fall of Jerusalem were quite different than synagogues from after the fall.

Cindy stands in front of the synagogue, actually quite small. Synagogues dating before the fall of Jerusalem were quite different than synagogues from after the fall.

Surviving fresco from the 1st century synagogue at Magdala

Surviving fresco from the 1st century synagogue at Magdala

The original mosaic floor of the synagogue, complete with undulations from earthquake damage

The original mosaic floor of the synagogue, complete with undulations from earthquake damage

Mosaic floor of synagogue

Mosaic floor of synagogue

The Catholic Church at Magdala

The Catholic Church at Magdala

A mosaic from the church at Magdala, portraying Christ and Peter walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee (which is right behind the church)

A mosaic from the church at Magdala, portraying Christ and Peter walking on the water of the Sea of Galilee (which is right behind the church)

A view of the Sea of Galilee through the east end of the church

A view of the Sea of Galilee through the east end of the church

The boat shaped podium at the front of the church

The boat shaped podium at the front of the church

This is the 1st century marketplace floor of Magdala beneath the present-day church.  Mary Magdalene (and likely Jesus) would have walked on these stones.

This is the 1st century marketplace floor of Magdala beneath the present-day church. Mary Magdalene (and likely Jesus) would have walked on these stones.

What a memorable day! Caesarea! Mt. Carmel! Megiddo! Mt. Tabor! Magdala! Our short trip to our hotel came not a moment too soon. We were basically exhausted from our busy day of touring and welcomed an evening of rest. We met for a buffet dinner at our hotel, the Caesar hotel in Tiberius, which sits directly on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Sleep should be good tonight! Tomorrow is another day filled with new discoveries and experiences!

From our balcony at our hotel, the Caesar, at Tiberius - Sea of Galilee behind.

From our balcony at our hotel, the Caesar, at Tiberius – Sea of Galilee behind.

I wish I could go into more detail explaining the various sites we visited, but alas, not enough time. 🙂

14 thoughts on “Israel Day Two

  1. Wow! What a busy, but awesome day! Amazing to be at the sights you read about in God’s word! Looking forward to all your blogs 🙂

  2. Thanks, Barry. You are a great writer…I am so happy you are taking the time to write about thus wonderful trip. Thanks!!!!!

  3. Taking in each breathtaking moment with you and feeling the excitement that you must feel brings me to tears each time. Please keep them coming it’s better than the travel channel! Love you guys.

  4. I sure enjoyed your travelogue. And your knowledge is outstanding. I could never keep up with a tour like this, so I’m thankful for your blog. Keep it up !!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *