Israel Trip – Day 5 – Jordan River Baptism, Beit Shean & Dead Sea

Woke up this day a little more tired than other days.  I assume it’s from the jet lag.   Or maybe it could have been from my  frustrations trying all last night to get my day 4 post updated and getting angry with the internet (poor at best in the rooms) .  Oh well.   I finally gave up on that and went to sleep.  We got to slurp in just a bit longer this morning but the coffee makers were not working this morning. … Nooooooooooooo!!!   Finally was able to get a cup though. … phew., that was a close call!

I have to show you the shot that one of our group members took of the sunrise and texted to me yesterday. ..

Looking out of the breakfast area to the east across the Sea of Galilee. Wow!! Thanks for sharing with me, Myron! 🙂

Sea of Galilee (Tiberias)

This morning at 9am, we boarded a small boat and took a 45 minute relaxing cruise on the Sea of Galilee. A brief scripture reading and devotional on board brings to life the experiences of Jesus and the fishermen disciples.  The sea was so calm… I just didn’t want to leave.  I just wanted to stay out on the water and take in all the scenery and the amazing history of what happened around this area.   No words could describe how I felt there. To be honest,  there is a mountain just north of Tiberias that I couldn’t take my eyes off of for some reason.   The name of it is Mount Arbel.  I was just captivated by it.   Maybe it was because it looked so untouched by modern things that it caused me to think how the area might have looked when Jesus walked around this very area.

A closeup of the cliffs on Mount Arbel.

Our boat for the short cruise.

Our tour guide (named Irit) was throwing bread to the birds. They loved her! Snapped a pic right as this one caught a piece of bread mid-air!

The water was so smooth. Interestingly, the day before, when we were at the restaurant for lunch, I asked the manager about the weather and storms. I was curious about how bad the storms can get. She told me that what was described in the Bible about the bad storms and the fishermen (who lived on the water their whole lives) would get very afraid. With how the wind comes over the mountains there, the storm can go from completely calm (like this pic) to 10 or 12 foot waves in a matter of minutes. Crazy! But it brings things to life when you read them in Scriptures.

Magdala

Magdala, home town of Mary Magdalene is where they have a recent excavation of the First Century Synagogue and well-preserved village.  This makes Magdala one of the most interesting newly uncovered Biblical sites in Israel.

The two engraved spots on the top of this stone is where they would have laid the two ends of a scroll as they opened it to read from it in the synagogue.

Ancient Fishing Boat

Next we went to see an excavated fishing boat that they have successfully dated to the first century.  It was painstakingly excavated and preserved and look so amazing!  If you ever get a chance to read up on it,  you will be fascinated with the story of how they excavated this fishing boat.

You can see the painstakingly placed support structures used to support the boat so it will not fall apart.

This graphic shows the different types of wood that were used to make this boat.

Jordan  River

We visited the Jordan River Baptism Site and one of our tour members decided to get baptized.    Here are some pictures of the area.   The river really is so beautiful and peaceful.

Kim getting baptized by pastors Jeff and John.

Beit Shean

Next we traveled southward to Beit-Shean/Scythopolis, the most magnificent archeological site in Israel, located at the strategic juncture of the Jezreel and Jordan valleys. Like Jericho, it has been almost continuously occupied throughout history. After defeating Saul and his sons on Mt. Gilboa, the Philistines hanged their bodies on the walls of Beit-Shean. During the time of Jesus, Scythopolis was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis – a league of ten cities sharing Greek culture and government.  This really was amazing to see first hand.
The theater:


This part amazed me… this picture was taken from the floor (orchestra) area of the theater and I said “hey Kim” (the one who got baptized) in a normal voice and it startled her. She was talking to someone up there (sitting in the picture just left of the steps) and she aid it sounded like I was right next to her and nobody was sitting there. Amazing acoustics!

The main road:

The bathhouse:

The pillars that supported the flooring so they could surround the floor and walls with stream. A very early sauna if you will.

Mosaic flooring in the courtyard of the bathhouse.

The one time I really appreciated modern convenience and privacy… yup, it’s their latrine.

Here is a cool invention they used to move the large cut rocks around:

On the way to the Dead Sea

On the way to the Dead Sea, we followed the fertile Jordan Valley southward.  Our guide pointed out the agricultural restoration of the “Land of Milk and Honey” and Israel’s intricate irrigation development.   It was fascinating.  “Interestingly”, we came up to a check point as she informed us that it was a check point for us as we entered the West Bank, which is an interesting area but “not so bad” if you stay on the road.  Lol.  We all got through it just fine,  but it was interesting as we were only get from the once volatile border of Jordan.  The further south we went,  we could tell we were getting more into the desert area.

No, that is not a missile or a flock of Angry Birds. That “black thing in the sky” is actually a mark on the window of the bus. You will see it in some other pictures as well.

Palestinian market in the West Bank.

The Dead Sea with the Jordanian (aka Moab) foothills in the background.

We are checked into our hotel on the 7th floor and we open our curtains to see this view!

Tomorrow morning, we are getting up early (in about 6 hours actually) so we can go a float in the Dead Sea!  I am tired and need sleep,  but I wanted to get you guys all caught up on our adventure so far.   Talk to you guys soon (hope the internet is good in Jerusalem which is where we are staying for the next for nights.  If not,  I will update you as I am able to.   Take care!   Shalom!

– michael

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