Israel Trip – Day 3 – Caesarea, Megiddo & Nazareth

Ok, so last night didn’t provide quite as much rest as I had hoped, but overall not bad.  Had an interesting time trying to figure out the  Hide-a-bed couch, so after some valiant attempts, my mother-in-law decided to call the front desk for some support.  The maid came and had it set up in no time.  Lol. In our defense, we were pretty close to having it set up but weren’t quite forceful enough with it.  … the last thing I want to do is break a bed in a foreign country.  Lol

Either case, we got up fairly early to get packed up and ready to head to breakfast.  Some very good food.  Found some excellent fruit and breads and some cheeses that were very good.  Of course there were cheeses that were… well… a little less than good.  We got loaded up on the bus to start our first day of touring.

A couple of overall comments I would like to share is that I was amazed at how much vegetation there is in the area and those olive trees!  I love those trees and wish I could bring a small one home with me!  Lol. Oh well a guy can dream, right?  The other observation is that I didn’t realize how many rocks there were.  Yes I knew it was a mountainous area, bit while mountainous, it is very fertile, but it seems like there isn’t more that 3 feet or less separating those rocks – and they are just plain majestic looking in my opinion.

Don’t forget from my post the other day that I said I could see myself tearing up…. yeah, well, I hate being right as you will see in our last stop of the day…

Caesarea

Caesarea, is where  Gentiles first heard the Good News from Peter and were baptized. We saw the Roman Amphitheater, the hippodrome (think the chariot race in the Ben Hur movie), a film on history and the remains of this famous port city seeing where Herod’s palace was located and even the remains of his personal pool.  We also were able to see the remains of the aqueduct that supplied water to Caesarea all the way from Mt. Carmel which is about 15 miles away.

Looking at the outside if the theater in Caesarea

Inside the theater… Max Lucado’s group in the stands listening to him speak

Looking at where Herod’s palace was located

At the edge of Herod’s palace looking at his personal pool (rectangular spot carved out if the stone in the picture)

The Caesarea hippodrome where they held chariot races (think Ben Hur)

Part of what was the 15 mile aqueduct that brought fresh water to Caesarea from Mt. Carmel

Mt. Carmel

We went to the top of Mt. Carmel where  Elijah challenged King Ahab and the prophets of Baal as we read this fascinating history in 1 Kings chapter 18.

Statue of Elijah dealing with the prophets if Baal

The view from atop this mount is amazing where we can see the valley of Megiddo, or known today as the Jezreel valley, but more commonly known (although thought to be a mistranslation of Har Megiddo which means “Mount of Megiddo”) as Armageddon where the final battle takes place in Revelation.  I never realized until I saw it in person how big this valley really is.  It used to be completely swampy area until the Zionists were able to drain the swamps and work out irrigation and turn it into one of the most fertile lands around.  I couldn’t believe how green everything was there.

Looking out over the Jezreel valley (Armageddon valley) from on top of Mt. Carmel

Another angle of the Jezreel valley

Did I mention I love the olive trees here? This one is on Mt. Carmel and is around 400 years old.

Megiddo (Jezreel Valley)

Next we travel through the Jezreel Valley to the other side from Mt. Carmel where we come to Megiddo, which was a city on a high mound, where archaeologists have unearthed 20 different levels of civilization.  You can see a pagan altar that was built and the grainery as well.  This area was one of the most desired locations from a strategic standpoint which is why so many civilizations fought over control of this one location.  It was fortified very well but because it was on a very high mound, there was no water they could get to like a normal well.  So, they dug way down and then straight across to bring the opening in a hidden area outside of the city so they could transport water without anyone knowing it.  Being on the edge of the Jezreel (Armageddon) valley, there are fantastic views of the valley as well.

The pathway at the top of Megiddo.

A shot in Megiddo looking at the Jezreel (Armageddon) valley in the background.

Cana and Nazareth

We drove through the area of Cana and Nazareth, the boyhood home of Jesus, where we visited Nazareth Village.  This is a wonderful recreation of Biblical times with costumed actors and a guide that was amazing.  We saw things there from what life was like for people living in Nazareth around the time of Jesus to also looking at an actual wine-press that they uncovered in that spot.  It brings to life the whole story when Jesus and his family were invited guests to a wedding in Cana where he turned the water to wine.  Cana is very close to Nazareth so swing all this together really puts history into perspective so much better.  One of the last things we do in Nazareth Village is to go into a synagogue replica. This part of our day I have to tell you some more details as this is the part that got me choked up.  Even talking about it later, and even as I sit in our hotel room typing on my phone I am getting choked up…

synagogue meaning “gathering place”, where they would hold community meetings, teach children, have court type meetings when necessary and on Shabbat (Sabbath) they had a time of reading and of prayer.  I would love for you to put this post aside for a moment so you could read Luke 4:14-30 for a moment… then come back to this post.

We read in Luke 4:14-30 where Jesus did the reading that was given to him… note that he didn’t pick it as typically the scrolls were assigned readings… and they gave him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, where he read about being anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to proclaim good news to the poor and liberty to the captives, etc.  The people were amazed as he said to them “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”.   They were pleased with him until he started to tell them about a widow in Sidon and a leper that was healed from Syria.  He was basically talking about people outside of the Jews… and they saw that as blasphemy and tried to throw him off a cliff.

As our guide started telling about the synagogue I was fascinated.  Then she talked about Jesus taking the scroll and she picked up a scroll from a small table and unrolled it and read the Isaiah passage from it.  It was then that this story came alive to me. Even she was fighting back the tears as she read it and was explaining it.  And like I told you in my previous post… it happened…. I got choked up and was teary eyed…. and we haven’t even been to Jerusalem yet or seen the Garden Tomb…. Oh boy…. I can see waterworks in my future.

A wine-press (rectangular carving out of the stone) where people would smash and stomp their grapes with their feet. You can see a drain spot on the right where the grape juice would pour into a cistern. This is the only wine-press that they found in Nazareth which could easily be the one Jesus is picturing in Matt 21:33-41

A Nazareth watchtower replica right next to a vineyard and the wine-press they uncovered (Matt 21:33-41)

An actual working olive press in Nazareth Village

The very heavy beam used to press the olive mash to get out the oil

This is the scene that I teared up at. She picked up that scroll on the table and read what Jesus read from Isaiah. She had such a love for the Lord. Absolutely amazing!

After Nazareth, we headed to our hotel in Tiberias which is right on the sea (lake) of Galilee.  We arrived too late to get some pics here but will have some for you very soon. Tomorrow, we have an early start with breakfast and head to many sites around the sea of Galilee.  I can’t wait.

Oh yeah… back in the US a few weeks ago, we had our daylight savings where we lost an hour of sleep…. well… Israel does their daylight savings tonight…  does that mean I’ve lost 2 hours of my life in the past few weeks?  Lol.  Night all… char with you tomorrow!

– michael

 

 

 

 

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