Archive for February, 2011

Jewish Thoughts About Exodus 35-38
February 27, 2011

Thought’s about my reading of commentators of this passage(Exodus 35:1-38:20)…

This week’s Torah portion sums up the direction God gives His people for building the Tabernacle. Four chapters in Exodus go into all the details in including who is going to build it, what materials, where the certain things in the tabernacle go, and so forth. The bible and commentator explains the many curtains: curtain for the screen, screen for the gate of the court, and entrance screen. All of these curtains show just how holy God is. What an amazing thing it is that Gentiles, of all people, through grace, can approach the holy of holies, by the blood of the Lamb. We can have a relationship and talk to a holy God, how humbling is that! In the Old Testament, sacrifices of spotless animals were done in order for the sins of the people be placed on the animal to be killed in order to pay for the penalty of sin. Now we can approach the holy of holies through the One spotless Lamb who bore the sin of man once and for all. He died for our sins so that we might live and have a right relationship with Him. I am so undeserving of His love; a King’s love so great that he would die for a person like me.

One thing the article on the Torah said was, “God speaks to us through His people, since there is no tabernacle and holy temple. There is a trace of God in each and every one of us and it is that Godliness which reaches out and communicates to us.” Biblically speaking, this is wrong. We know that men are fallen, so how can we take what comes out of his mouth to be divine? Now, God’s new community has the Holy Spirit, God’s presence, living inside of them; however, they still struggle with their flesh, so cannot be counted as heavenly message carriers. How does God speak you ask? Well, in the simplest way, through His Word. The Bible is how God speaks to His people; His infallible and true Word spoke to His people thousands of years ago and still speaks to us in the 21st century. The tabernacle and Temple may be done away with, but those have been saved by Jesus Christ can come enter into the holy of holies by Jesus Christ’s blood and can hear His voice through the Holy Bible.

 

Hike in the Judea Wilderness
February 22, 2011

standing on a candidate for Rachael's tomb

The first stop on our hike was to the non-traditional, but the more likely place where Rachael was buried. The location where Jacob buried Rachael was north of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-21, 1 Samuel 10:2, Micah 4:7-8, Ezra 2:21, Nehemiah 7:26). This can be seen as Jacob traveled to Migdal Eder (Micah 4:7-8) which is equated with Jerusalem, after Rachel died, it seems plausible that he would  follow the natural flow of traveling south, instead of going back up to Jerusalem after her death. There is also a site called “the tombs of the children of Israel” which was “situated a little way from Ephrat”, where Middle Bronze Age tombs are. This may be the location of Rachael’s tomb over the traditional location that puts her tomb near Bethlehem of Jerusalem.

After Rachael’s  tomb we went to Geba which is also know in the Bible as “The Pass” which Joshua crossed on his all night journey from Gilgal to Gibeon (Joshua 10:1-5).

Me and Brit in front of The Pass

The Pass is also mention in 1 Samuel 13:16-14:23 where Jonathan crawled over cliffs from Geba to Mickmash, to battle to Philistines from the east. Another significant aspect of the Pass (which is connecting Mickmas and Geba from the deep canyon of the Wadi Suwenit) is that it is the border between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (1 Kings 15:22). Lastly we seen in Isaiah 10:28-32 and 2 Kings 18:17 that the Assyrians go across the Pass.

Most of our hike was in the Judean Desert. This is the same desert that John the Baptist preached in “the Wilderness of Judea” (Matthew 3:1, Luke 1:80, 3:2). It is also the desert that Isaiah uses in his geographical imagery (Isaiah 40:1-11). This is where Jesus was tempted and was “the second Adam” in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13, Romans 5:14-19).

lunch break in the wilderness

On our way down the ridge of the mountain range we saw Anathoth (Jeremiah’s hometown) and Almon which were Levitical cities (the cities of priests) (Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1, 32:7-8). After lunch, we descended down to the Parat Springs (Ein Parat). These springs are the Karstic springs in the Land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:7, Psalm 104:10, 107:33-35). These were also the springs where Jeremiah was told to bury clothing (Jeremiah 13:1-11). In most English Bibles the word “Nahal Parat” is mistranslated to “Euphrates” since they both have the same meaning, “fruitful”. However, it wouldn’t make since for Jeremiah to go all the way to the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, considering the Parat Springs are in his backyard. Jeremiah buried the clothing here as a symbol of Judah’s pride and filthiness.

swimming in the Parat Springs

The barren, mountainous desert is in stark contrast to the streams of Parat. If you go down to the river bed, there are lush green trees which grow by the water, while just a mile up the mountain is a barren wasteland. A lot of this imagery is used in Jeremiah 17:1 where those who trust in the Lord are not like a bush in the desert but are like trees planted by water. They will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. We also see in Psalm 1 that those who mediate on the word of God are like trees which are firmly planted by streams of water, yielding fruit and not withering. Reading these passages and seeing the actual desert and streams that Jeremiah and the Psalmist saw, made the verses come alive and become so much more vivid.

Also in Psalm 42:1-2 when the Psalmist says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Being exhausted by climbing up and down mountains in the desert, then finally seeing a cool, clear stream of water was so refreshing. This is how the Psalmist must have felt when he wrote this psalm, comparing streams of water to God. How refreshing is fellowship with God in a world that is dry and exhaustive!

The bible verse we had to memorize on this hike was Isaiah 40:1-8, where Isaiah talks about in verse 8 that, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever!” This imagery was so evident, seeing small flowers sprout up in the desert but, knowing that when the summer months came, they would all be gone. People and this life will come and go like flowers, here one second then gone the next. However, the God of the Bible and His holy word is everlasting and will endure even when this world is gone.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever!

Benjamin Field Trip
February 17, 2011

On the High Place where Solomon asked God for wisdom looking out to Gibeon, where the sun stood still in Joshua 10

Our first stop on our Benjamin Field trip was to a park just above Emmaus Nicopolis, so we could look down upon it. This city was in the Aijalon Valley which is used for guarding the main route of the central hill country. This is the traditional location of Emmaus, dating from the Byzantine period in 300 AD. This site is 17 miles from Jerusalem, which questions the Biblical account of Luke saying, “later that day they returned to Jerusalem”. The 34 mile distance would make it impossible for this site to be the real location. However, today the site of Emmaus Nicopolis is a memorial for Israel’s armored division. Some believe the site to be at Emmaus Motza –Coloenia, for it is only 3.5 miles from Jerusalem. Another suspect is Emmaus Castellum(Abu Gosh) which is close to Yad Hashmonah, where we are staying. However, this tradition only goes back to the Crusader Period. The last candidate is Emmaus Quibehbeh which the tradition goes from 1290 AD. The unanswered question still lingers. But all we know is the site of Emmaus was mentioned in Luke 24:13-25 where two disciples were traveling when they saw Jesus after His resurrection. Also Emmaus is the center of the Aijalon Valley in New Testament times and Vespsian/Titus took Emmaus and put the fifth Roman Legion there (they did this to control the routes traveling from the east into Jerusalem).

it was REALLY windy on top of Gibeah, the city Saul makes the capital

After this we headed towards a place that looked upon Gezar. This city was once recorded to be conquered by Thutmose III in 1480 BC for it was a Canaanite city of value in the Late Bronze Age. This city is also mentioned in Joshua 10:33 when the king of Gezer tried to help Lacish against Joshua’s attack.  Gezar was in the tribe of Ephraim, but didn’t come into Israel’s full control until the reigns of David and Solomon. In 1 Kings 9:15-17 we see that this city was given to Solomon as a gift for marrying the Pharaoh’s daughter. This city was fortified by Solomon, most likely due to its strategic location as being a gateway from the Aijalon Valley and Beth Horon Ridge access into Jerusalem. Gezar was also the location for Tiglath Pileser’s palace after the conquest with “battering rams” in 734 BC. The location and significance of Gezar was crucial. This city was in the central Benjamin Plateau. Here we talked about Ramah and how it was the home and burial location of Samuel (1 Samuel 15:34, 25:1). This city must be in the location we were looking at for it is mentioned by being with the Central Benjamin Plateau (1 Kings 15:16-22). We also see Gibeon in the distance where Joshua got tricked into a peace treaty (Joshua 9:3-22). This is also the location where the sun stood still as the Amorite fled west by being conquered by Joshua (Joshua 10:12). Here, we also did a reenactment of Abner and Joab’s men fighting at the pool of Gibeon (2 Samuel 2:12:15). We know that this is the location of the city of Gibeon because a wine seal with the name Gibeon was found there. Gibeon was also the place where the tabernacle was moved to (2 Chronicles 1). Near Gibeon was Nebi Samwil, the possible “High Place of Gibeon” where Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:3-15, 2 Chronicles 1:1-13).

coffee break at KOSHERcafecafe

Our next stop was to Gibeah of Saul. This is mentioned in Judges 19:10-16 where the Levites traveled past Jerusalem to Gibeah or Ramah. This shows that these cities are on the watershed or the “Patriarchs” route, and must have been in close proximity to each other. The men in Gibeah who are inhospitable spark the Benjamite civil war. Gibeah is also the city which Saul makes the capital for the monarchy (1 Samuel 15:34). Gibeah was also on the route which the Assyrians used to go to Jerusalem (Road of the Patriarchs (Isaiah 10:28-32)). Lastly, Gibeah is where Titus consolidated his forces before taking Jerusalem in 70 AD, according to the writings of Josephus.  What we sat at on our extremely windy field trip was an unfinished palace from 1965 in Gibeah.

learning about The Pass, between Mikmash and Geba

Our second to last stop was in the “oldest and lowest city in the world”, Jericho. It is also known as the City of Psalm for the abundance of palm trees due to the subtropical climate, catering to its agriculture and many fresh water springs. What we stood in front of in ancient Jericho was the original retaining wall that the Israelites marched around. Our group even marched around it too! The retaining walls weren’t the walls that came “tumbling down”, it was the city wall made of mudbrick. Jericho had two city walls, one was on the outside, which encased the other wall (this wall was the one which Rahab lived). There was also another wall inside of the outer wall; both made of mudbrick, and both proved by archeologist to come “tumbling down.” Many excavations of Jericho have occurred some from 1910’s, however the archeological process wasn’t as advanced and didn’t incorporate evaluation of the layers.  However, in 1930, John Gastang showed that his findings proved the Bible. While in 1952-1957, Kathleen Kenny (who basically discovered modern archeology) found the dating of Jericho to be 1550 BC instead of Biblical 1406 BC.

in front of the excavations of ancient Jericho

This is due to the fact that she didn’t find certain pottery, common in the Late Bronze Age. However, she only dug in a small section of the city, which was most likely the poorer area, where expensive pottery, like the kind she was looking for would not be found. There are many evidences in the city that prove the Biblical account of Jericho. Archeologists have uncovered large amounts of pots with burnt wheat in them. If people were to conquer the city they usually would take valuables (especially wheat) before they destroy it. But this shows that Biblical account for the Israelites to offer everything in the city up to God, and nothing, but Rahab and her family to be spared. While in Jericho, we read Joshua 6 where Joshua obeys God even human reason would disagree with Him. God wanted the Israelites to march around the city 7x for 7 days and at the end of each day, blow a trumpet. This took a lot of trust from Joshua. After the city was conquered (mudbrick walls fell down in a way that was a ramp over the retaining wall), Joshua put a curse on the 1st born son of the man who would try to rebuild Jericho (1 Kings 16:31).

in front of Elisha Spring, where Elisha made bitter water pure.

Now, modern Jericho is controlled by Palestine. The ancient Jericho was much smaller than I imagined, only about 10 acres.

The last stop on this field trip was to the excavation location of where King Herod’s palace was. It was built over Wadi Qilt. This location is also mentioned in Joshua 15:5-8, 18:16-19 where the boarder of Benjamin is. In Joshua 7:26, 15:7-8 it is known as “the valley” where Achan was stoned and buried. Wadi Qilt can also be known as the “Valley of Achor(Trouble).”where Herod's Palace once stood

 

Valley of Rephaim Hike
February 16, 2011

On our hike, we went to the Valley of Rephaim. This valley is an emek, which is a wide plain which made it able for us to travel through it, unlike a narrow canyon. This valley functions as a route from Betar to Jerusalem.

The Valley of Rephaim, which was encompassed by Transjordan, is known in the Bible as a home for giants (Deuteronomy 2:11). These giants symbolized glory, but now extinct, have become powerless. By the time of Moses, only Og was left of them in the Transjordan (Deuteronomy 3:11). The departed dead from that region has made an impact making Rephaim became known as “spirits” (Psalm 88:11, Isaiah 26:14, Proverbs 2:18, 9:18).

fighting reenactments in the valley

Part of the border between Judah and Benjamin is at an area of the Valley of Rephaim where it makes contact with the Shoulder of the Hinnom Valley (Joshua 15:8, 18:16).

The Valley of Rephaim is also the location where the Philistines attacked twice after David became king of Israel in Jerusalem. The name “Baal Perazim” was given to this place because the Lord broke forth against David’s enemies, just like the parallel of the water/springs which means to “break forth” from the rock. These four springs in the Valley of Rephaim were: Ein Lavan, Ein Hinyeh, Ein Balad, and Ein Yael.

The Valley of Rephaim is also known in the Bible to be the place where three of the thirty chiefs came down to David to the rock at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim (1 Chronicles 11:15-19, 2 Samuel 23:13).

Also in Isaiah 17:5 it talks about the Valley of Rephaim, “And it shall be as when the reaper gathers standing grain and his arm harvests the ears, and as when one gleans the ears of grain in the Valley of Rephaim. In 2 Samuel, Giloah, which is in the Valley of Rephaim, was the hometown of Ahithophel, a counselor to David who sided with Absalom in the revolt against David.

The Valley of Rephaim is mentioned in Song of Solomon as well. It says in the Song of Solomon 2:17, “Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away, Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.” For this passage, our group did a reenactment of the verse, one of the couples in our group, Joel and Jenn were the ones who did. Joel read the passage and describe our location while Jenn pranced in front of him on the mountains of Bether.

Bether, or Betar was the last holdout of Bar Kochva, who led the second revolt of the Jewish people against Rome in 132AD-135AD. We also hiked to Hushah, which is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:4 and is the name of a descendant of Judah and has preserved its named as a city near Bethlehem.

The last stop on our hike was another spring. But after viewing the spring, we built a fire and boiled hot water for coffee and tea. Bill then spoke about Psalm 48 and we sang songs in Hebrew.

bonfire, stories, and hot tea

During our hike, we had to memorize Psalm 48:1-8. This Psalm became so much more vivid as I traveled in the land of the same person who wrote it. The Psalmist declares how great God is and how greatly he is to be praised. Not only did the beautiful scenery of His creation declare His glory but the fact that He is the one true God. This is shown in the battle victories He gave David against the Philistines in the Valley of Rephaim.   God has made himself known as a fortress (Psalm 48:3). For all the kings of the world may come against Him, but just like He did in 2 Samuel, He will leave them trembling (Psalm 48:6). Great is the LORD, He will guide us forever!

"Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God!" -Psalm 48:1

New Testament Walk in Jerusalem
February 11, 2011

the group on the steps to the Temple Mount

On Wednesday we had a field trip to Jerusalem for a New Testament walk thru of the city. Our first stop was on the Temple Mount which is on the southeast end of the Old City. The Dome of the Rock on top of the Temple Mount was built in 691 AD, and is said by the Muslim’s to be the location where Mohamed ascended. This, however, is not the most holy site for Muslims, but the Al Aqsa Mosque is considered more holy in their eyes, and is conveniently located across the way from the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Southeast on the Temple Mount is Solomon’s Stable which was built in the Heriodian Period and is now used as an underground mosque. Jews find the Temple Mount significant because the rock that the Dome of the Rock was built under is the rock that the earth was born out of (Genesis 22, 2 Chronicles 3). The Dome of the Rock recently had the mount on it gold plated in the 1990’s which cost around 15 million dollars.

me and my roommates at the Dome of the Rock

The location of the Temple Mount is said to be the mountain where Abraham went to sacrifice Isaac. This mountain is the same one where Solomon built the temple and where the Holy of Holies was.

The Temple Mount in contemporary time has two platforms while in the time of Christ it was a flat layer of stone all the way to the temple. The temple was destroyed in 70 AD; however, Herod began to refurbish the temple which took 83 years. The temple was rather small compared to the temple mount which is as big as seven football fields and is the home of parks, trees and homes (1 Kings 6:2). If you looked to the east of the Temple Mount there is the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended and will return one day.  Also on the Temple Mount was the Royal Stoa where, in the time of Christ, the Sanhedrin, made up of Pharisees and Sadducees, would meet. Also in the eastern side of The Temple Mount was Solomon’s portico which is mentioned in John 10, Acts 3 and Acts 5:12. If you look toward the Dome of the Rock from here, you would see the Dome of the Chain in front of it. This housed something called Solomon’s Chain and was once used to tell if a person was telling the truth, if they could hold onto the chain.

Some say the Dome of the Rock is sitting on where the temple used to stand. There is even said to be a stone in the Dome of the Rock to the exact measurements as the holy of holies and is thought to be where it once sat; sadly no one besides Muslims are allowed into the Dome of the Rock. However, opposing views believe the temple used to be where the Dome of the Spirits is, which is laid out in a way that the eastern gate and the Mount of Olives would be a straight shot to the entrance to the entrance of the temple.

We visited the Eastern Gate that led to the temple mount (Ezekiel 44). Contemporarily, it is closed off; however, the original gate from the time of Christ is found underneath it, but is not excavated due to Muslim tombs around the modern gate.

the eastern gate to the Temple Mount and the Mt. of Olives in the distance

While at the eastern gate, we read John 2 where John cleanses the temple during the Feast of Passover. In the passage, Jesus tells them to destroy the temple and he will rebuild it in three days; the rebuilding of the temple would have taken years; however, Jesus was speaking of His body which he will raise Himself from the grave after three days after being crucified.

While still on the Temple Mount we walked to the Northern Gate, which is the highest point on Mount Moria. This was the original location for Antonio’s Fortress, the place where Paul last stopped before dying. From here, we went to Ritmire’s Step, which is an original stone from the 1st temple period and the from the original platform from the temple of Hezekiah and Solomon.

After we left, we went outside the Temple Mount walls to see the stones that Herod the Great used to construct it. The stones were so big they weighed over 40 tons. The construction used to build the walls was a method called dry construction where the wall was held together by the weight of the stone alone.

the stones of the Temple Mount that Herod built

To build the temple, the thousands workers weren’t just slaves, but highly trained builders, planners and engineers. The highly sophisticated Roman irrigation system made more workers accessible to work on the construction of building the Temple Mount and renovating the temple. The money which funding this great undertaking was from the toll that Herod took from the spice route which went through the Gaza Strip. It took around 3-4 years to build the Temple Mount and 80 to restore the temple.

The original temple that Solomon built was already noted for its small stature; however the Temple Mount was a lot larger. Solomon had many reasons for and small but extravagant temple and large Temple Mount. One being that Solomon wanted to make a name for himself. Sages used to think that it was done as an act of repentance. While some believe it was in order to please the Jews. The Temple Mount was built in order to solve a major traffic problem. A few times a year, Jews came all over the country to offer sacrifices in one place, the temple. To hold hundreds of thousands of people, the Temple Mount was built.

Next, we saw a stone that had engraved in “belonging to that place of the trumpeter” that fell off of the top of the Temple Mount. From here, we went to the south side of the Temple Mount and read Psalm 120-124.

reading the Psalms(Songs of Ascents) while going up to the south side of the Temple Mount

The steps leading up to the Temple Mount are long and short and are in sets of 15; therefore, people think it is so you can prepare your heart before you go to the Lord, also to read the 15 Song of Ascents in Psalms.

After our journey throughout the Temple Mount, we headed to the Wool Archeology Museum. Here, we saw a house that was on the western hill and was excavated in the 1970’s. This home were most likely the home of rich priests’ because of the large size. The homes were highly influenced by Roman culture which included frescos and mosaics. But, the mosaics in these homes did not include pagan animal or humans but simple geometric shapes. In one of the rooms we saw stone water jars, much like the ones used in Cana when Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding. We also read Luke 22 where Jesus is on trial in a high priests’ home, much like the one we were in.

The Burnt House Museum Next we went to the Burnt House Museum and saw a movie about the destruction of Jerusalem. After the movie we left to go to the Church of the Holy Seplechure. In 325 AD it was built by Constantine’s mother and it is also said that she found parts of the cross, nails, and Jesus’ crown of thorns. This is the traditional location of Christ’s crucifixion and burial. In Jesus’ time the location was a rock quarry so it was an easy place to dig tombs. We even saw a 1st century tomb in the church. The tomb was a shaft tomb, which the dead body is placed in for a year then the left over bones are put in a box. However, Jesus was most likely buried in a bench tomb because in John 20:12, “They were sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying. One angel was where Jesus‘ head had been, and the other was where his feet had been.” The shaft tombs were way too small barely enough room to fit the dead body let alone two other angels.

the location for the tomb of Christ

The church itself was very ornate and beautiful, however, it was very Catholic. Cross and candles were everywhere, people kissing the stone that was said the be where Jesus laid, and even a confessional(which didn’t make sense because Christ came so we can have a restored relationship with God and talk to Him directly, not through a priest, but by the High Priest, Jesus who intercedes for us). But once I got past the showy façade, it really hit me that the God of the universe, came to earth humbling himself to the point of death, even death for a wretched sinner like myself. And I was standing in the location where Jesus Christ hung on a cross and bore the wrathful payment for MY sin. However it was also the same location of his burial. But praise be to God that Jesus rose three days later and conquered death once and for all (Acts 10:40). For a Christians life is foolish if Jesus didn’t rise from the grave. Everything is based around His death and resurrection. My sinful self was on a hell-bound race and towards God’s perfect judgment and wrath; however, glory to God for salvation, for He bore the judgment and wrath that meant for a worthless person like me. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

A Typical Day at IBEX
February 8, 2011

view from the Moshav

This morning I woke up and spent time in God’s Word and prayer looking out to the Judean Hill Country. Even further in the distance you can see Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the view from the Moshav we live on, it is about 20 minutes west of Jerusalem. From here I went to breakfast in the restaurant that is on the Moshav and had an 8am and a 10:30am class. After class was lunch followed by studying and homework. Then I got invited by my boss(I work in the library 3 days a week) and prayer group leader(Becky) to go to a Israeli football game, so I agreed, surprised that they even knew what football was here. I went with 3 other students to Jerusalem “football” stadium(because it was actually a soccer field that was turned into a football field. After paying 20 sheckles, I gained entrance into a game I thought was out of place in Israel. It was different than American football in a few ways. One, there was no extra point. Also, the following was a lot smaller than the NFL. This WAS Israel’s national football teams, but there were as many fans there as you would normally see at an American high school football game. The football players wore prayer shawls with there uniforms and yamicas under their helmets. However, it was entertaining nevertheless. There was a concession stand which I got hot chocolate(it was a little chilly) and a lot of people their spoke English(except for some of the fans who were cheering and singing songs in Hebrew).

with a Jewish football player

the field was funded by the owner of the New England Patriots

at the football game

player with his prayer shawls(on his left hip)

sitting in class

 

eating lunch in the resturant

Judean Hill Country Hike
February 8, 2011

At the beginning of our hike we stopped right before we got into the city of Abu Gosh. Bill mentioned the ridges that led travelers coming from the west to Jerusalem. The number one choice for travelers would be the Beth Horon Ridge, which goes from Gezer to Gibeon and is mentioned in 1 Kings 9:15-16. The second choice would be the route we were on which was the Kiriat Yearim Ridge. The Upper Sorek acts as a “moat” around Jerusalem, making travelers travel by the ridges of mountains instead of a straight shot to Jerusalem from wherever they were in the west. Kiriat Yearim is a city mentioned in the Joshua 9:17, 15:9-10, and 18:14-15. This city is only about a 15 minute walk from Yad Ha Shmonah, where we are staying. The moshav where we are staying is just in the boarder of Dan, while Kiriat Yearim is a shared boarder city of Judah, Benjamin and Dan; but is eventually selected to go to the tribe of Judah. From this view we saw, Bill pointed out Mt. Seir, which is modern Shoresh and Mt. Yearim, which is north of Cesalon. Kiriat Yearim is the place where the fighting men of Dan camped out just west of the city, which today could be Yad Ha Shamonah, the moshav which we are living on(Judges 18:11-12.6-4). Kiriat Yearim is also the place where the Ark of the Covenant staying for over a hundred years until David brought it into Jerusalem (1 Samuel 7:1-2, 7-3, 2 Samuel 6). Also Uriah a prophet contemporary with Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:20-23) was from Kiriat Yearim and fled from there to go to Egypt because of threats from King Jehoiakim.

eating lunch at Lemon Springs

After a quick stop in the British Fortress which is in Kiriat Yearim, we headed down towards Lemon Springs. In Israel, springs are essential to life, especially if there is a drought. Many references to springs are in the Bible including, Deuteronomy 8:7 and Psalm 104:10, 107:33-35, “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills…” God did not bring His people into a land like Egypt where they could easily rely on the Nile for their water source. God made it so they would have to rely on Him alone and the water He gave them to live. Therefore, springs were used to store and channel the water God had given Israel for latter use in a time of drought or the summer season.

Our next stop was our hike up to Tsuba. On the way we discovered vineyards and Bill spoke about the verse when Jesus is the branch and we are the vines who are to bear fruit. The vines that do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown away, because they are worthless, even to make firewood. The only possible was from vines to make fruit is by the branch. The branch is never cut off but each year after the vines produce their fruit, they are cut off. We are called to produce fruit and do the will of God, but this also shows that God is eternal and we are but a vapor, here for a season and gone the next.

"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."-John 15:5

Once we got to Tsuba, we could see the expanse of where we hiked from, we even saw West Jerusalem in the distance. Tsuba was mentioned in 2 Samuel 23:36, for one of David’s mighty men was from there. Today, the site is a ruin from the Crusader period.

From here, we went to a second spring, and the larger of the two. The spring itself was housed in room that enclosed it. We could see the source of the water if we crawled through a tunnel. But through the tunnel the water flowed into a deep pool which three guys from our group did back flips and jumped into.

jumping into the spring after a long hike

Each hike, there is a verse we are to memorize and then later take a quiz on. This verse was from Psalm 121:1-8 and some of the imagery used in the psalm was more vivid to me here in the land of Israel and on that hike than it had been to me in the States. In verse 3 it says, “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.” On the rocky terrain of the Judean Hill Country, I did stumble a few times; mud made it difficult not to stand firm when climbing up a steep hill. However, God says He will not let me stumble or my foot to be moved. He is a God who never sleeps, He is a God who is closer than my right hand and He is a God who will keep my soul from all evil. The Lord has, is, and will forevermore protect me and keep me.

Old Testament Jerusalem Walk
February 4, 2011

warming up with coffee on a cold, rainy day

Our first stop on a rainy Sunday morning was on the Western Hill in Jerusalem. Here we saw remnants of the bottom structure of The Broad Wall that was mentioned in Isaiah 22:18. This wall was eight meters thick and eight meters high and was built in 701 BC. However, the wall was rediscovered in 1970. This wall was built by Hezekiah as a means to further defend the city. Hezekiah still trusted in God’s promises to keep the city safe, but that did not mean that he was to sit around and do nothing. Hezekiah was a man of faith but had action to back it up, leaving the results to God and his faithfulness.

 

 

Out of Zion’s Gate to Western Hill we went to the traditional location of King David’s tomb. However, this is incorrect because the Byzantines originally misinterpreted the location as Mount Zion, leading others to believe that this was the resting place of David. The location was not much to look at. Men and women separated to catch a glimpse of where King David is supposedly buried; however, we know as we read 1Kings, that David was buried in the City of David.

the group in the traditional location for the Upper Room where Jesus and His disciples had the Last Supper

From David’s supposed tomb, we walked up to the traditional location for the Last Supper. This Upper Room was not originally the room where Jesus and His disciples were on His last night before crucifixion; however, it was in the general area. Here, we read John 13:1-20 about the Passover meal and how Jesus showed humility and a servant’s heart by washing the disciple’s feet. We also read John 14:1-4, how Jesus says that He is going away but will leave the disciples with something better, which is the Holy Spirit. After reading this, our group sang hymns, praising the One who would die for sinful men and women like us and thanking Him for grace.

 

Following the upper room, we went to a museum which housed a movie theater-like structure. Here we sat in crescent formation to hear a short lecture on the 1st temple period in Jerusalem’s history; this included the whereabouts and boarders of the City of David and later expansion of Solomon’s temple on the Temple Mount. After the lecture, we saw a movie which featured Jerusalem’s history and all the character and biblical meaning that make the city what it is today. Then we went to another room of the museum and learned about the burial practices and rituals of that time. Then we learned the transformation of Egyptian hieroglyphics to a more simple way to draw the pictures that eventually formed into ancient Hebrew, in which we wrote our names.

After this, we went to a Catholic cemetery which Horatio Spafford and Oskar Schindler were buried. Horatio was the person who lost all his children in a shipwreck, but still wrote “It Is Well With My Soul.” There were small stones around Oskars grave which signified remembrance of his life. He was the only person who was in the Nazi party to be buried in Jerusalem, but he was due to the fact that he saved thousands of Jewish lives in the Holocaust by his having them work at his factory.

After this freezing cold, wet and windy experience at the cemetery, our group headed toward the City of David where we saw remnants of old houses and structures to support what some believe was David’s palace. This was more of a wealthy area of Jerusalem because of evidence that there was plumbing and that the houses were larger than some found in other areas of town. Walking through the City of David, we went to the entrance of Hezekiah’s Tunnel.

before going into Hezekiah's Tunnel

Walking down to get to the tunnel was the best thing that happened all day because the underground structure kept the biting cold wind out and warmth in. The tunnel was built as a battle tactic in Hezekiah’s reign to protect the city from Assyrian attacks. The tunnel brought clean water to the city away from the already existing spring, Gihon Spring in case Assyria penetrated the city. The tunnel took about twenty minutes to go through and it was pitch black inside. The only thing that was able to help was our flashlights and headlamps to help find our way out the other end. However, at various moments, we called, “BLACKOUT” and everyone in our group turned off their flashlight so we couldn’t even see one inch in front of us. We slushed through lukewarm water most of the way at our knees, but at times, the water came up to our thighs. As we made our way out the other end of the tunnel, we walked toward the Shiloh Pool where the water came out. This pool is significant in the book of John, where Jesus spits in dust and puts it on a blind man’s eyes, telling him to wash it off at the Pool of Shiloh.

after coming out of Hezekiah's Tunnel

After the Pool of Shiloh we went up to another candidate for the tomb of David, however, Benj, our teacher, was a skeptic and had alternative views to where he was buried. After this, we hurried to the bus and headed back toward the warmth of the Moshav and a much needed hot sauna session awaiting us.