Israel Day 6
First location today was Bet She’an, an archeological site for one of the largest cities in the Jezreel Valley. This city was ahead of its time, with the largest amphitheater in the Middle East. This community also had the “hippodrome,” where Christians were slaughtered inside a colosseum. The city had it’s own sewage system with toilets, bath houses and pools. They printed their own money and had a prime location.
Afterward we traveled to Megiddo, the site of the Biblical Armageddon. This mountain has a spectacular view of the Jezreel valley. Megiddo was also a powerful location to hold and was built upon 25 times by different civilizations. From the top you could see your enemy coming for miles. The city was under siege many times, and because of this they discovered a way to access water without leaving the walls. A large tunnel was excavated and dug to a small spring of water outside the city walls, but underground.
This site was particularly impacting, knowing that one day a massive battle will take place across the valley. The ruins also hold the history of 25 different civilizations, as the turnover of power happened on several locations. Of course, we had to hurry down since a large storm was coming and winds whipped around the mountain. Certainly a top site for the day.
Our guide, Mike Tahhan (who has been doing an awesome job) then took us on an extended tour of Nazareth, the place where Jesus grew up. I and my coworker expected a small, quiet town. But instead we discovered Nazareth is a huge, bustling city. Walking its streets reminds me of New York. This city on the mountainside is home to the well where Mary was visited by the angel and told she would bear a Son names Jesus. We walked the streets where many vendors sell their products in claustrophobic alleyways.
The endpoint for Nazareth was the Church of Ascension, the largest basilica in the Middle East. This church is beautiful both inside and out. Upon entering there was a mass taking place. The participants and priests recited scripture and sang. With those acoustics the singing was especially enjoyable. The second floor has a large seating area and paintings of Mary surrounding the sanctuary. The cupola, when seen from underneath, resembles a lily, representing the purity of Jesus.
Final stop for the day was Cana. It was here that Jesus performed the wedding ceremony miracle of turning water into wine. Some of the couple on the tour renewed their wedding vows at this site. There is also a stone jar at the bottom of the church here that resembles what might have been used in that day.
Coming back to the hotel we took a few more photos of the Sea of Galilee. It’s our last night here as tomorrow we head back towards Jerusalem. Looking forward to it actually. While the Galilee is a beautiful area with fertile land and greenery, there’s something about the Holy City that draws me back.
Today’s Photos: http://gallery.me.com/ssrobles/100372