Israel Day 4
Day four of our journey, and only the second full day of touring. Today will consist of a lot of desert and driving. Before our journey to Caesarea Philippi, which is several hours away, we attempted to visit the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. It was closed unfortunately, so we moved onward to Bethany.
Bethany is another Islam community with numerous Mosques. We came here to see the accepted location of Lazarus’ tomb. The Church Latin of Bethany sits near the tomb, which has several caves around where early Christians would meet and worship. In addition to caves, there were many Muslim vendors that try to sell you everything from water, colored sand and ice cream to your own shoes.
The Lazarus Tomb contained a small, stone spiral staircase. At the bottom of the staircase was the actual tomb. My coworker and I climbed in the small opening to the tomb and took some photos. Before leaving Bethany, my EO coworker took a camel ride; I’m saving my camel ride for Egypt.
After Bethany we drove into the desert and went to, what Muslims believe to be the tomb of Moses. We as Christians don’t believe this to be true, but it was a great place to visit. Surrounded by desert as far as the eye could see. Group photos were in order here.
Our next stop was an oasis in the desert, Jericho. Containing the lowest point on earth, 1300 feet below sea level, this city literally emerges out of nowhere. Here, Dr. Pagan took us to the Mount of Temptation, a church on the mountainside. We also took some photos of the actual Walls of Jericho, thousands of years old.
We left Jericho to embark on the two and half hour drive to Caesarea Philippi. On the way we had a new experience at the Southern Galilee checkpoint. They stopped us to check our passports, which is done in many places around Israel, but after seeing them they asked us to pull over and get out of the car. Apparently we looked suspicious, because we had to unload all our luggage, go through an airport-style metal detector / X-Ray machine and they searched our bags. They definitely took their time and inspected our Passports on several occasions. This entire security screening was a little unsettling. At one point, one of the women snapped a surgical glove on…and we feared a different kind of search, but thank God that didn’t happen.
After about 20 minutes they cleared us to go. Almost being time for lunch we saw a McDonald’s in a small town in the desert, but the metal detector at the front door drove us away. We headed towards the Galilee, where we would be staying at the Royal Plaza Hotel on the Sea. We checked in, ate lunch, and headed to our last destination.
Our final stop today was Caesarea Philippi, the place where Jesus asked the disciples, “Who do people say I Am?” and Peter responded, “You are the Christ.” This was a beautiful place with streams, small waterfalls, and a large cave which once held the temple to the god Pan.
Driving back to the hotel, we had some great views of the Sea of Galilee. We took photos and video and called it a day. Tomorrow, we ride the boat on the Sea of Galilee.