We returned yesterday from our 10 day jaunt to Israel/Palestine. It is an amazing place to visit, we were able to tour Galilee (including a boat ride on the Sea) and visit Nazareth, Capernaum and other sites in the upper Galilee. We visited two areas in the Palestinian Authority, Jericho and Bethlehem and had three days in and around Jerusalem. This was my fourth trip and every time I go I feel like I can read the Bible better knowing the spacial relationships of things. Here are some examples:
Nazareth to Capernaum is a long down hill, rugged walk. Jesus would have made the trip many times, bypassing the larger city of Tiberius because of the Roman garrison there and that the city was considered "unclean" because it had been constructed on an older burial ground. The walk is rugged and unspeakably beautiful with the crater shaped sea of Galilee in front of you the whole time.
Nazareth to the Judean hill country (where Bethlehem is also located). According to Luke 1 and 2 Mary, Jesus mother, made this arduous trip of nearly 70 miles not once but twice while she was pregnant with Jesus. She goes the first time to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth in the hill country south of Jerusalem and the second time for the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem. This journey went down the mountain side that Nazareth is located on, down the Jordan river valley to Jericho then up the Jericho to Jerusalem road (a 20 miles stretch of road that rises 4000 feet in elevation). Then through Jerusalem and on to the hill country or to Bethlehem. I am beginning to think that Mary, usually portrayed at the innocent sweet virgin Mary, had to have been one tough young lady to do all that traveling.
Palm Sunday. We walked from the Mount of Olives, past the cemetery, down to the Garden of Gethsemane and into the Kidron valley. This is the journey Jesus took on Palm Sunday. He crossed the valley and entered Jerusalem through the gate called Golden and on up to the Temple area. This whole walk took less than 20 minutes. A small boy could throw a stone across the Kidron valley.
The more I see, the more I study, the more I want to know. However, seeing the landscape, the spacial relationships with my own eyes makes the Bible come a live even more for me.
More on the Life Journals in the days ahead.