Israel-Day Five

*Until now I have neglected to mention the “Ramot Resort” we stayed at the Sea of Galilee*
There is nothing like eating breakfast overlooking the Sea of Galilee–it was absolutely wonderful

Kursi

Kursi was our first stop of the morning. It is located in the land of the Gergesenes, which means “People who were cast out.”  There is here a byzantine-era church complete with baptismal and mosaic floors.  The church is located at the bottom of the mountain where Jesus cast the devil out of the maniac and the swine ran down the cliffs and drowned in the sea.  Also, Jesus fed 4,000 here.

Cliffs at Kursi

The Golan Heights

There are about 250,000 people that live here.  It includes everything West of the sea of Galilee that is Israeli land.  There are a lot of farmers here, as the land is very fertile.  This area has been a hot spot with Syria during several Israeli wars.

Safed, “Svat”

Eitan’s home, possibly the “City set upon a hill” that Jesus refers to.  The word literally means “Lookout over the sea.”  It is the fourth most holiest city in Israel

Hatzor

We followed the Hula valley “sickness” north towards Mt. Hermon, driving with the Naphtali mountain range on our left.  There were about 5-6,000 people that lived in Hazor.  It was a busy merchant center of the Canaanites.  This is the city that Joshua houghed all their horses and burned it with fire.  It is interesting to note how the city gate worked as noted in I Kings 9:15.  As like most uncovered Canaanite tells, there was a 14 century B.C. high place right before the palace, where people could sacrifice before coming to see the king.  At the entrance to the palace were huge cedar pillars.  The palace walls themselves were made of mud-brick.  You can see the intensity of the fire by the petrified brick.  The fire was coupled with heavy winds, wood floor, and store houses of oil to make a very hot fire, so hot that it cracked the lava rock that served as the foundation.

Cuneiform tablets have been found here many times.  There is Israelite housing from a later period, as well as a fortress and water tunnel.

View of the fertile plain from Tel Hatzor (Hazor)

Tel Dan

When the tribe of Dan was pushed out of their territory, they moved to the Canaanite city of Dan.  It was a major city on the corridor between Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Abraham would have gone through this city’s gates as he traveled.  When the Israelites came, they built their own gates.  It is sad to realize that in these gates the Israelites made standing stones, which were a memorial to false gods, as well as Ashera poles which were a symbol to Ashera, Baal’s wife, otherwise known as Ashteroth, Issus, or Ishtar.  Several important things have been found here, including the “House of David inscription” in II Kings 8, and the “Mesha Stone.”

Jereboam built a temple here.  It was at the border of the city, and tradition said that when a person travelled, he should offer a sacrifice to the god of the land.  Jeroboam set up the temple here for this purpose.  (He also set up temples at Bethel).  It was just like the temple in Jerusalem, but this one shattered the Jews in half.

The spring here is very controversial, and it was secured by the French Mandate to give insurance fot the state’s water supply.

Banias, Caesarea Philippi, Temple of Pan

This is where Jesus told Peter “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.”  (Matt 16:18)  It is interesting to note that Peter and Rock are different Greek words, so the argument using this does not stand.  Paul had made it clear that Jesus would become the chief corner stone.
There was a temple to the god of Pan here.  Pan was a shepherd god of panic who came out of the underworld one time a year via springs coming from a cave which were thought to be the gates of hell.  Over the centuries, those who took the city built their own temples here, including Herod, Philip (Zeus), and the tomb temple of the sacred goats from the 3rd century where there were 100s of goat skeletons.  Herod Agrippa had a palace across the road from where we were.

Mt. Bantel

We went to a volcano on the edge of the country overlooking Syria.  The next mountain over was also a volcano (exploded and sent lava down to Sea of Galilee making Basalt) which had a pretty beefed-up military base on top.

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