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The Galilee 27th October, 2007

Posted by Scotty in Bible, JUC, Travel.

So, I recently spent 4 days in “the Galilee”, which was a fun but tiring trip. It was the last of my Israel field studies, and so  I have now officially been “from Dan to Beersheba”, the biblical description of the length of Israel (eg. 1 Kings 4:25). This week we leave Israel and head across to Jordan to explore the tribal inheritance on the east of the Jordan River, including the land of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Edomites! But before I go there, here are a few pictures from “the North”:

Caesarea on the coast

Caesarea: This is a Roman city built on the coast. There was no natural port here and so they built one. The sea was a frightful place to the people of the Bible, representing trouble and chaos, and so was not the sort of place Israelites liked to settle. A theatre was built right on the coast looking out over the Mediterranean to Rome, reminding the people of Rome’s dominance, and setting performances to the terrifying backdrop, the Sea, the domain of the god Yam.

The Nazareth Ridge

The Nazareth Ridge: Here is our Physical Settings professor, Dr Paul Wright giving a lecture as we sit on a spot on the Nazareth ridge. From here, we look down over the Jezreel Valley, and over the cliff edge to the right, the town of Nazareth, which is significantly larger than it was in the Biblical time, due to it’s association with Jesus. The spot we are sitting on tradition holds to be the spot where the crowd tried to throw Jesus over the cliff (Luke 4:29). This mountain range was familiar territory to Jesus. It’s where He grew up, where He would have played, and has views that would have been been engraved in the back of His mind. What an honour to be standing on the “stomping ground” of my Saviour!

Standing in the Jordan River

The River Jordan: I was a little disappointed, as I approached the river Jordan, stripped off my shoes and socks and rolled up my shorts, I half expected the water to part as my feet hit the water. Sadly, it didn’t. I did however enjoy some time enjoying the cool of the Jordan River at one of it’s narrower, shallower points. The water… stank. It’s pretty polluted, and the parts of my shorts that got wet left a nice pong following me for the rest of the day. I leant down and grabbed a couple of stones from the bottom… not quite the pile of boulders that the Israelites would have gathered to mark the spot where they crossed the Jordan with Joshua (Joshua 4:8), but it’ll do as a small reminder!

The altar at Dan

Dan: The Bible names this city as the most Northern of the Israelite cities, sitting way up North on the East side of the Huleh Basin. I liked this site as it was very different to the archaeological remains we had visited so far. The metal structure in this picture marks where the horned altar would have stood and gives you an idea of how big these things were. They’re not sure if this is exactly what this site would have been, but if so, we’re standing next to an altar that very possibly was built for the worship of the golden calves that Jeroboam set up in direct contradiction to God’s commands. It’s hard to be here without thinking through the implication of the sins of idolatry not just in the lives of the Israelites, but also in my life today!


Capernaum: Is a one of the biggest industrial towns in this area, and is one of the sites where Jesus did a lot of His ministry. It was an interesting mix of old and new, jew and gentile, with a beautiful post 1st century Synagogue clearly built on the dark coloured foundations of the one before it. Have a read at Luke 7:3 or John 6:24-30. Just to the right of the pictures is Simon’s house, where Jesus healed his mother (Luke 4:38), and on top of it, with a glass floor so you can look down into it, a brand new church which they have just finished building. Many groups come here for more of a spiritual tour than educational, and so as we sat listening to our lecture, over our shoulder was another group singing songs and praying (not in English), anointing people for healing and doing what I can only describe by the look and sound of what was going on, as casting out demons! Now if there’s anything to distract you from class time, this is it!

Scythpolis & BethShan

Scythopolis / Beth Shan: There are several places in Israel that either go by two names, or have two towns in very close proximity that mark the time of the Old Testament, and that of the New. This is one of those places. This is Scythopolis, the most western town in the Decapolis. It’s a Roman city situated near the Jordan River on one of the masses into the Jezreel Valley. There’s some pretty cool stuff to see here… a Roman Theatre, an amphitheater (sports stadium), and even public bathrooms and toilets. This column-lined street leads towards Tel BethShan. The town of BethShan which sits up on the top of that mound. It was fun to head up top there and look back down over the ruins lying below.

Walking down to the Sea of Galilee

The Sea of Galilee: We took a short detour on the way to one of our stops to do a beautiful walk down towards the Sea of Galilee. This place was pretty incredible, and the pictures don’t do it justice. As I mentioned earlier, the water was not a place the Israelites were fond of, partly because of their ignorance of it, and partly because of it’s untameability (to make up a word). Because of this, is took a certain time of person to be a fisherman. It wasn’t your average Joe, but people a little set apart. They were a bit more bold, people willing to fend for themselves, to “make it happen”, people who take risks and enjoy adventure. It’s little wonder that Jesus called these people to be the spearheads of the church! As I listened to some of these qualities, I couldn’t help but here a description of myself, someone who is so in love with God that he is ready to give up everything and travel the world in order to serve Him!

Prayer on the Sea

Walking on Water? One of the highlights of the trip for me was this… a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. One of the days, we sailed out into the lake and here had the first lecture of the day! As we sat here, it was hard not to allow your mind to drift, imagining what it must have been like to be in the water in an non-motorized boat as a storm suddenly brews. Or to be in the boat as Jesus comes walked across the water. As I sat talking I noticed my friend Josh didn’t look himself. We chatted for a bit and after hearing some of the things on his mind we sat there floating on a boat just of the shore of the Sea of Galilee and prayed together. How many times did Jesus and his disciples pray together around this sea? How many times did Jesus stand on a boat, like us, not far from the shore and preach to the crowds?  How often did He get up early and go away to a solitary place to pray?  May my life be a constant journey to Christlikenss.



1. Joe - 27th October, 2007

Dude, all of that looks awesome! Sorry I missed your call. I’m down visiting the family and I dont have service right now. I will be back on Monday so you can try again…thanks for trying! It’s nice to know you still sound healthy : )

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