Monday, January 28, 2008

Good Times in Galilee

Our last day of touring in Israel kept us around Galilee. The weather was rain, then haze, then rain, then clear, more rain, etc. I was sorry those here for the first time didn't have a clearer day so they could see the Golan Heights or Mount Hermon. But still it was a good day.
This is Capernaum on the north shore, where Peter lived and Jesus did a lot of his ministry. The pod like building to the left is a modern church built over the home of Peter. The white structure behind it is a fourth century synagogue, built on the ruins of a first century synagogue.
We went, of course, to Tabgha, the place where the boy offered his five loaves and two fish to Jesus, who then performed of the miracle of the feeding of 5000. This famous mosaic is under the altar. Note there are only four loaves of bread in the basket. The fifth loaf is the bread that is placed upon the altar for the eucharist.
Had a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee first thing. And spent some time along the shore as well.
After eating some fish called the St. Peter fish (much like a bass in taste) at the kibbutz En Giv, we went to Bet She'an. Bet She'an was the capital of the ten Roman cities in Jesus' day called the Decapolis. It is located where the Jezreel Valley meets the Jordan Valley, a strategic location.
The power of Rome, militarily and economically, is still evident in the ruins. The coliseum there was the largest in Palestine, seating 7,000. Roman marble, all imported, is everywhere and the expensive mosaics cover many store floors.

We ended up ou tour at Bet She'an and then crossed the Jordan River into the country of Jordan. Crossing through two border controls took awhile, but it was the hour and a half ride back to Amman that kept us on edge. The road up the mountains had sharp cutbacks and crazy traffic on roads that weren't the best. We climbed from 700 feet below sea level at the border crossing to 2500 feet above sea level at Amman. All I could think was to say a prayer of thanks that it wasn't snowing or sleeting as the weather forcast had predicted.

One last night in Amman, Jordan and then an 11 hour flight back to New York. Ready to get home, as are my pilgrims. But it has been good, good to walk the ancient ways again and to be reminded of the peoples God loves over here.

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