Israel-Day Three

Caesarea

History

Named after Caesar Augustus, in the land of Samaria, which meant the Romans didn’t have to “please” the God of Judah.  The greatest threat to the Roman empire, the Parthians, attacked Jerusalem in 42 B.C.  Herod went to Jerusalem to help his brother fight, but to no avail.  He fled quickly to the south, but his chariot flipped, and his mother, soon-to-be wife, Miriam, and himself were hurt.  Because of all these happenings Herod wanted to commit suicide, but he didn’t.  He put his wife and bride-to-be in Masada, and hurried to Egypt where he inquired help of Mark Antony.  The two went to Rome where they were promiced supplies and help.  Herod told the emperor that if he won the land, he would get to become the king of it.  He did so, but then he had to win over the likings of the Jews.  This he accomplished by rebuilding their temple in Jerusalem.  This was Paul’s last stop in Israel on his journey to Rome.

Building Projects

The Theater was in the shape of a half-moon (an amphitheater is a full circle).  There were colorful curtains over the top which provided incredible lighting effects for the stage.  Comedies and tragedies were played here.  A stone has been found on the original stage proving that Pontius Pilate (26-36 AD) had building projects.  In the theater was a stage for actors, and a lower portion for the orchestra.  The lower portion could be flooded to provide for plays that included water scenes.  People got paid to come here.  They got a free day off work, public speakers often came here.

Herod’s Palace was right on the waterfront.  It included storerooms, areas where his guards and leaders stayed.  He had a swimming pool holding fresh water build right into the Mediterranean.
The Hippodrome held over 40,000 people it was located on the lakefront between the port and Herod’s palace.  Herod saved the Olympics by having them here twice.

The bath house is quite spectacular, seeing water was brought from 6 miles away by an aquaduct.  Vesuvius was a historian in Constantine’s 3rd century.  He was the Bishop of Caesarea.  Greco-Roman culture was pushed out and the site became heavily Jewish.

The breakwater and Port is largely filled with sand today, what’s left of it at least.  Herod used a solution of lime and volcanic ash to make the underwater concrete for it.  The inner port is practically filled with sand.  Paul walked down specific steps to get to a boat.

The temple was built right at the “Base” of the harbor.  When merchants came in, the first thing was to give something to the god in the temple.  When Helena & the Catholics gained control of the city, they knocked it down and built an even more elaborate temple, then the Muslims came in and built theirs, then the crusaders, and so on.

Aqueduct At Cesarea
From Herod’s Palace looking towards the port

Tel Megiddo

Tel Megiddo is located on the edge of the Valley of Jezreel, otherwise known as the Valley of Armageddon.  It is an ancient mound that includes over 20 layers of civilizations.  It was used as proection from foreign invaders by Solomn, as the valley was a major crossroad for trade.  The city gates were six-chambered in the Canaanite period.  The other significant cities with these gates are Gezer, Hatzor, and Jerusalem.  There was a Canaanite high place, a round altar with steps leading to it.  From the tell, Mt. Tabor, Nazareth, and Mt. Gilboa can be seen.

In the valley is the place where the story of Deborah v. Barak takes place, where Deborah acts as if losing, then Barak came around and attacked.  Sisera was killed when Jaal drove a tent stake through his temples.  In 1948, there was a battle against Jordan, also the Syrians & Iraqis joined together, but Israel defeated them as well.

Solomons stables on the Tel could house over 400 horses per set of stables.  Mangers were made of stone, not wood.  A mosaic floor was found in a very nearby prison which helps prove Biblical evidence of the site.  In Bible times, the tel itself wasn’t necessarily inhabited, but the surroundings were.
The site was given to the Romans who made it famous, they converted to the religion of the land (Judaism).  It is supposed that King Ahab is the one who had a water tunnel dug to the spring outside the city so the citizens would not have to leave the city to obtain water.

4-Chambered Gate of Megiddo

Nazareth

Name—not connected with Nazarite…as in Nazarite vow.  “Netsayeret” is the pronunciation.
Jesus lived right on the edge of this valley in Nazareth.  The city was off the beaten path, therefore, no one took special interest in it.  The population was about 500.  We visited “Nazareth Village” where we saw an ancient winepress, watchtower, threshingfloor, synagogue, and carpenter’s shop.  The city today has 50,000 people, mostly Muslims.

The nearby Mount Precipice is where tradition says Jesus “jumped off the top” to escape his persecutors, but the Bible says he walked away.  It was super windy!

In town we visited the Catholic church of the Annunciation over top of the supposed Mary’s house.  Then we saw the synagogue where Jesus read from Isaiah, then was run out of town.

View of Mt. Tabor from Nazareth

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