Saturday, May 19, 2012

Holy Land Days 7-9, May 16-18

Day 7. Gone missing. I think I'm behind due to the time change. Sigh.

Ok, let's call on Day 8, May 17, Thursday.

Shimon, our bus driver
We read the Psalm of Ascent #123 on our bus trip and pray together for the day. I've done a sketch (better than this one) of our bus driver, who takes it home to his wife. She likes it and promises to frame it.

Our guide gives us a review of the four regions of Israel: 1) coastal plain along the Mediterranean; 2) Hill country that runs like a spine N/S; 3) the Rift Valley, bisected in the south by the Negev Basin (Beer Sheva, Arad) and in the north by main valley systems East to West - Jezreel Valley and Bet-Netofa Valley; 4) The Negev (desert).

The Coastal Highway is narrow in upper Galilee. In Northern Israel, there are winding steep highways that are not easy to navigate. Three passes cut through the area - Joknean pass in the north, the Megiddo (narrow; guards the pass), and the Dothen, known to us from the story of Joseph. Joseph was told that his brothers were at Medbar (wilderness) of Dothan - Ishmaelite traders coming to Egypt through this third pass at Dothan purchased Joseph from his brothers and took him down to Egypt.

The three branches of passes open into the Jezreel Valley. Saul and Jonathan die in the South Gilboa Mountains - their bodies were hung on the walls of tBeth-Sham in the Harod Vallley. When Rehaboam splits the kingdom, northern Israel had more to do with outside politics than did isolated Judah: the north was on the coastal highway's crossroads, so Omri and Ahab were in international politics.

Nazareth, where we'll go on Day 9, overlooks the Jezreel Valley off the coastal highway. It is not a backwater as we sometimes hear preached, but was probably a bedroom community off the main highway. There was regional bias against it. ("What good can come from Nazareth?")

Josephus the Jewish C1 historian wrote much about upper and lower Galilee. Galilee during Jesus time included Sephorus, the capital of Galilee, whic was a one-hour walk from Nazareth and would have been the regional center his family frequented. North of Sephorus was Rumah, one of whose landholders was Nicodemus.

The Sea of Galilee (a lake actually) is part of the Rift Valley. We're on the shores of the lake in Tiberius for 8 days. The lake is 600 feet below sea level and has over 13 first-century harbors. Apart from Elat, all Israel's water starts here as snow melts from Mount Hermon to the north.

Culturally, Galilee is important to the NT, writings of Josephus, and rabbinic literture. There was Grecco-Roman influence, and small Jewish communities in the second century BC Some scholars think. Simon the Hasmonean removed Jews and allowed Gentiles to move into the area. They believe that when Aristopolis I conoquored the region in the late second century, Galileans were ofrced to convert to Judaism. There was a Jewish immigrant presence in the C2, but there are coins from Jerusalem and pottery found from the era.

Galilee was pious, second only to Jerusalem in observance of the Torah. Jesus speaks in the synagogue and at sundown (when Sabbath ends), people bring the sick to see him. "The sages of Galillee and Jerusalem say X, but the sages of Judea say Y," states a rabinnic passage that emphasizes the importance of conservative Judaism in the area where Jesus grew up.

It's a three-day trip from Nazareth to Jerusalem (though if you go through the TransJordan it can take up to 6 dayas walking). Jesus' family's piety is obvious because they traveled to Jerusalem annually. Counting the 8 days of Passover, a provider would lose about three weeks' income - considering the poverty of Jesus' family, that must have been a true sacrifice. Jesus continued the annual pilgrimage as an adult.

We pass a graveyard. All the graves face the same way. "If you look, all the feet point toward Jerusalem and every person lies on their back. When the resurrection comes, we will stand up and walk to Jerusalem to greet the Messiah," says our Jewish tour guide Ilan.

We drive past the Sea of Galilee, ringed by hills. Fishing is unregulated. Fisherman were asked to desist for three years to allow regeneration of fish stock, but have refused because it's their source of income. Date plantations line the hills. Lychee, avocado, and mango groves, sunflowers and other crops grow beside the highways. Banana plantations are shaded against birds and because bananas like shade. At the junction o fthe Harmuch and Jordan Rivers, a hydro plant straddles the flow.

Mt. Tabor, which we pass today and see in subsequent days, is a distinctive rounded hill. Traditionally the church has called this the site of jesus' transfiguration. Nazareth sits at the foot of Tabor.

Queen Anne's Lace
The bus grinds up narrow roads to Belvoir (lit. "good view"). Queen Anne's Lace and other wildflowers are scattered on the sides of the street. I paint the three stages - bud, circular ball, and flat lace of the Queen Anne's Lace.

We sit under sailcloth shades on the Plateau, a windy microclimate at the top of the hill. You can see the entire valley from the Crusader fort. The Gilead Mountains are to the east; the Golan Mountains are to the north. The Crusader Castle was built in C11 and sanctioned by the pope, who wanted to regain the Holy Land by force. Crusaders killed thousands of Muslims and jews (and Palestinian Christians, too!)

The site is an architects dream, flat, with a cliff on one side and a plateau perfect for building. The volcanic rock is basalt, hard to work with. The dry moat around the three walls not on the cliff side (Hallakah - diagonal wall) gave Crusaders a great advantage in fending off attackers. The castle has a surrounding wall with towers on the edges to see over dead spots in the wall. The gate is the most vulnerable and usually had two doors, set at 90o angles and closed overnight. It had a central dungeon or stronghold for food storage and church. Finally, it had a basura or outbuildings with guards.

At first, Crusades were begun to open trade routes. Criminals were released from jails in exchange for absolution by the pope. They pillaged villages along the way because they had to walk or ride to the Holy Land. In 1182 AG, Hospitalers destroyed farms and created a "Christian" space. In 1187, only three fortresses did not fall at the Horns of Saladim, where a Muslim warlord lured Crusaders to their death, setting the fields around them ablaze, then pushing them over the cliff and slaughtering them. It was a brilliant if brutal strategy that is still studied by armies today.

Lunch at Bet She'an is pita with schnitzel and drink @ $11. American dollars are accepted at most places.

Grain fields, lots of road signs, and other familiar things make the American students happy. Everyone talks of the relief of reentering Israel, and several say it feels like home.

Mosaic map of Bet Alfa
We visit the synagogue of Bet Alfa at the base of the Bilboa mountain range. A beautful three- part mosaic lies on the floor. We see a 17 minute film of info on the mosaid, unearthed by returning Zionists stetting up a kibbutz in 1929. "Emperor Justinas" (518-527) is the inscription.

Our next stop is Ein Harod, where Gideon choose 300 men at the spring. "Don't drink the water!" warns our tour guide. We see how Judges 7 nestled into the landscape and how the enemy army was spread in the valley below. We spend some times talking about the development of monotheism and how polytheistic the Israelites were. They had Theoforic names (included god's name). The development of understanding was gradual as Israel absorbed the culture of the peoples around them. Our guide tells us that North (Dan's country) there is a diety riding a bull. It is unclear if JHWH or Baal is the god - and the consort is Asherah, the fertility goddess.

The Hill of More lies aacross the valley. We walk through bouganvilla, ficus benjamina, and other flowers along the pathway. We see Mt. Gilboa, a range where Saul and Joanthan died.2 Samuel 1 tells the story of Saul's viist to the necromencer of Endor (someone who calls up spitirs). This was forbidden in Israel, and Saul hadn't talked to Samuel since 1 Sam. 15, when he spared King Agag against orders.

Roman building blocks and columns
At the mouth of the Harod River is Bet Shan, a fortress and city. Water came from a flowing stream in this only Decaoplis city west of the Jordan. The guide points out the tel: the mountain emerges as one culture builds on the ruins of another city. The deeper the excavation, the older the civilization. In finding "deep" hidden archaeology, the upper levels are disturbed. There are signs of Egyptians here as long as 3500 years ago. In 749, an earthquake destroyed the area. Usually war and robbery ruined a city, but this is well-preserved, its treasures buried, not ruined by robbers.

We visit a Roman bathhouse and theatre. It's hot, so the guides are minimizing our sun epxorsure. Romans were a body-oriented culture, wrestling, exercising, and listening to lectures before entering the bath. They pumped hot air under the floow, threw water on self or on the heated floor for a wet sauna that cleansed their pores. In the next room, they'd relax and enter a cold pool to talk and relax, repeating until they felt cleansed. The bathhouse was a place to do business and exercise influence. Rome emphasized perfect body proportions, and men met nude to exercise and bath.

The arch of the theatre was twisted by the 729 earthquake, but it's still standing. "Ancient ones had a lot of understanding and experience," says Ilan, looking at the sturdy structure.

People got paid for their work, just just slave labour used to build these cities. Soldiers would be waiting, on vacation, civilians would be selling or waiting for convoys. Entertainment was needed: hence the theatre which showed comedies and tragedies. Three layers of seats seated 6000 people. They used shade canopies at the top, and vendors sold food and drinks inside. Progegandda or plays glorifying politicans were common. There are perfect acoustics from the stage wall behind the stage. Ilan remarks that Jesus could have used some of these to speak to 5000 people - you don't have to shout to be heard by every attendee in the theatre.Vomitoriams are the doors at the back of the seats where a quick change of crowd was possible.

Other entertainments were the hippodrome (horse races) and the amphitheatre (gladiators).

Then it's time for the three pools of Sakne. I've never seen anything like it - hundreds of meters long, the water remains at a constant 28oC, warm enough to relax and cool enough to refresh. We swim for an hour without stopping in the clear blue water. Two phosphorescing caves lie at the top. We swim the length and back of all the pools and stand under the waterfalls between them. Waldemar sits on the side while I swim and lie on my back in the water.

We're told to stay together with a partner, that it is dangerous for women to be alone anywhere in Israel if they don't know the culture. One of the dark-haired flirts defies instructions and swims alone to the far end of a pool. She's soon swarmed with a dozen men in and out of the water, unsafe and unwise. The  lifeguard calls us out at 4:45 - the national park gates close at 5pm sharp.

After getting to the hotel about 6, we eat and have the evening to relax and watch TV.

DAY 9: May 18, Friday - Ps. 124 is our prayer of ascent as we board the bus. We rise at 6am to check email and eat breakfast. The bus is ready to rolll by 7:30 a.m.

The dean of the ministry program from another school comes every year. NU lets professors trade off so many exprience the Holy Land. I'm grateful for our dean Wayde Goodall, who shares the pleasure and learning.

"Does everyone hasve modest clothing aong?" asks ilan. That means men and women cover shoulders and knees.I lan alos sends people with flip-flops back to their rooms for sturdy shoes; so we don't leave until the other bus does at 7:50. We drive through the hills of lower Galilee.

We pass the Horns of Saladin again, which signalled the end of the Crusaders and the beginning of 1000 year rule by Muslims in the area. Muslims view that truth comes with Muhammad, and they believe that while others may rise, eventually they will take over the world.

Ilan tells us about Theodore Herzel, an Austrian journalist sent to France in the late 1880s to cover the trial of Dryfuss, a general who was demoted to private because of anti-Semitism. Herzel was so affected by the trial that he began to promote the only solution he could find for diaspora Jews: bringing them back to Israel. He wrote in a pamphlet: "There is no me; there is this idea..." He was overtaken by the idea of Palestine for Jews and took every action possible to promote it. He wrote "The Jewish State, "Altneuland," with topcs, problems, solutions, and thoughts of a Zionist congress. The Zionists met in Basil in the 1880s: "In Basil I have established the Jewish State." This visionary tried to get Kaiser Wilhelm to appropriate land for a Jewish sttae.

We look to the Acco plain, from which Carmel and Haifa are a 2 hour walk. It's a 1/2 hour drive across the plain.

Starting up the hill to the cave at Yofdat
Yodfat or Jotapita (according to Josephus) is a rare archaeological site that has been partially excavated. It lay undisturbed since the first century when Romans conquered the Jews in 70AD, 70 years after Herod the Great when Romans came in force. Jews built resentment and began to rebel against Rome in 66AD from this area. Within 4 years, their temple would be destroyed.

Josephus wrote four historical books: 1) Jewish War; 2) biblcial Antiquities - Jewish historical view since Genesis; 3 Against Apion - Jewish apologetic text; and 4) his autobiography.  He tells that Rome laid a 40-day seige against Yodfat. Josephus hid in a cave and wanted to fall on his sword to commit suicide. The Romans took him to their General Vespacian. Josephus told Vesp. that he would become Caesar (prophetic, as V was named Emperor after Nero was deposed). V saved J's life and took him to Rome where he lived under the Flavian family's care. It was a good life, but e was viewed as a collaborator by his Jewish countryment. He wrote detailed accounts of the first Jewish revolt that started on the coast near Caesarea. Gasius Florus was sent by Vespacian after the revold and crucified thousands of Jewish Roman citizens. Jesus was only one of many crucified by Romans. Josephus reports that for sport the Romans crucified people in various positions.

Johanan Benzekai also predicted Vespacian would become Caesar and foresaw the coming destruction of the temple. Jews were divided into peaceful (JB) and violent revolt. JB asked Vespacian if he could set up a rabbinic school at Arar Yavne (sp). The Beet Medrash - "Saves Judaiism" by recording traditions and culture. The school was open for 19 years.

Like Jesus, JB was partial to living peacefully among Roman rule. The temple was central to Jewish life, and they traveled three times a year for feasts of Tabernacle, Passover, and Pentecost. The traumatic shift in Judaism came with the destruction of the temple. It was forbidden to write down oral law, which was passed from father to son and through generations of rabbis, but Jews rationalized their way to codification of rabbinic literature (oral law) so it would not be lost.

Since the Jewish exile, they had been self-ruled for nearly a hundred years under the Macabbeans. Otherwise, they were always under another empire. The tumbled walls everywhere in the fields show the antagonism and tension that broke into Roman conquest.

Hananina Bendosa was a disciple of JB. There was strong faith in Galilee - 1) rebels who didn't want to be controlled or 2) the life of Torah among those who believed God was punishing the unfaithfulness of Jews with Roman domination.

We meet Menachem Goldberg, a third-century settler who arrived in the Kefar Kheddem settlement 24 years ago. There were only a few families and barren hillside when the Orthodox community began, but there are 380 families living in a beautiful suburb community with hopes for 700 families in the future to form a Jewish majority in Galilee. The adults, who are mostly professionals - teachers, lawyers, etc. - work in nearby cities: Kinnereth is 30 minutes east; Haifa (Elijah and prophets) is 30 minutes west; Lebanon is 1:10 minutes to the north with its Hesbolah; and it is 1:40 to Jerusalem. They will celebrate 40 years Sunday of Yo Shalim - blowing the shofar to ask for God's mercy on Israel (ram's horn, representing Abraham's ram caught in the thicket).

Nazareth is 7 minutes south; Cana is 5 minutes east in the heart of lower Galilee.

The Sabbath is a real rest for these Orthodox Jews. They don't use computers, watch TV, or use their cellphones. They community is gated and garded throughout, so children run safely on the streets. Families look out for each other's kids. Manachem says prophecies are coming true after a long exile. They are raising Jewish families in Israel in this O'Shariah community, named after the founding rabbi. This is not a kibbutze but more like a city cuburb. Far Kedem, and ancient C1 town, is nearby. Jews come here to learn their deep roots. Christians and Jewish history is alive here. Settlers replanted biblical crops of fig, olive, grape, pomegranat, grain (bread) and barley (beer). They raise biblcal animals like the donkeys we ride after lunch, doves, chickens, and cattle.

Menacham pulls a four-corned fringe from under his shirt, the tassles hidden on Orthodox Jews because it was too dangerous to wear them openly. A blue thread runs through each tassle, a reminder to keep the Sabbath. They love Sabbath, a time to recharge their batteries and visit with family and friends. Friday afternoon they prepare their best food and dress in their best clothing at sundown (7:18 pm while we're here). They go to synagogue where men and women separate. They sing for 40 min. without instruments and read Torah. Afterwards, they sit with their families at home (and often friends) to eat before visiting others around 10pm and later. "This educates our children in hospitality," says Menacham.

Early Saturday they return to the synagogue to pray. At 11am they eat a family meal where they share the week's events. About 1:15, they dress casually in white shirts and pray. Another prayer is made at evening with another meal. At 8:18, 25 hours later, Sabbath will be over.

Responding to a question from a student about emergency situtations that require Jews to work, Menacham says, "The life of a person is more important than Sabbath rules," so they would drive a person to the hospital, etc.

No fire or gas is permitted on the Sabbath, so the hot meal would be Friday night and everything else would be precooked for meals. Yom Kippur, the most important holy day, is usually a fast from food and drink. Menacham says that when he was in the army, his commanded told them to drink because they were guarding others and hunting terrorists.

Little wood mule that represents field animals
"unmuzzled" while they tread grain
Jewish law does not permit mixing of unequal animals in a yoke, and animals are also given Sabbath rests. They cannot be rented out to foreigners.

We are shown how to prepare bread. M tells us the farmers throw seed into plowed fields. Farmers sowed with tears, not knowing if the seed they were taking from their children would grow. If it lay in the fields for more than 2 weeks without rain, it would spoil and he would have to take more grain from food storage to reseed. "Geshem Geshem... " he pauses, and the bus driver chimes in "BO!" Rain, Rain, Come. Every farmer knows this chant.

5 months later, the grain is ready. M goes into the field with a sickle to cut a handful of grain and says every harvest makes him proud to be a Jew. Jews are required to leave the fields unharvested for strangers, widows, and orphans. That shows hospitality to the poor (Boaz must allow Ruth the stranger. Reminder that Moses' mother was poor as well.) M presses the seed head between his hands to blow off the chaff and retain the grain. For bigger production, he shows us a threshing sledge and a winnowing fork that lifted the grain so the wind - always present - could lift away the chaff. The seive removes fine chaff - the farmer had to decide how much seed to save. M says every person requires 40 liters of olive oil annually, but he doesn't know how much seed; that would depend on the persons, the festivities for which they had company, etc. The farmer had to pray for rain constantly when sowing.

Grinding stones with wood handle
and center hold for adding grain
It took women 30 minutes to grind enough grain on round stones for 2 1/2 lb. flour. Our female students rotate the heavy stones and remark on the hard physical work. Dough is mixed from flour and water. A woman offers prayer for the dough: since they don't know who the priest is, they say the blessing and throw a piece of dough in the fire as a reminder of the Jerusalem temple.

M stretches the dough and puts it on a hot iron. His son feeds palm branches underneath to heat it. The bread immediately crisps: within seconds, they flip it and take it off to eat. Oil and hyssop dip - ah, we try our hands and stretching the dough, having the youngster flip it, and then oiling in. DEEElicious! Jesus would have eaten such unleavened bread.

Then it's off to Zipori National Park. There is a strategic 360o view from the top of the hill. A Roman city with incredible water systems lies in ruins. The Sanhedrin, a council of 70 elders, moved every few decaded and was located in Zipori in 200 AD. Judaism was an agricultural temple worship, not centered in the home.

Nazareth was a small village on the hillside above caravans that went throug the Jezreel Valley. Zippori is the main city nearby, so would have been the big city that Jesus' family frequented. The wealth of mosaics is unmatched. Many of the mosaics have Zodiaks in the center. This one shows Abraham on pilgrimage, promised that his descendants would be like the sands of the sea. The second panel is the pagan motif with the Zodiac and sun god, showing God's power to act in the world. The tird and top panel is temple worship, 500 years after the destruction of the temple, this C5 mosaic reminds Jews to prepare for the cmoing Messiah when the temple would be restored. The temple gates with 2 side pillars is a common motiv. The mosaic highlights God's promise, his actions, and his future redemption.

Jews say, "Please build Jerusalem in our day." Jerusalem is considered a ruin until the temple is rebuilt. Judaism is important as a keeper of ancient ways for the church as well as Jews.

Sepporus is a Roman place whose theatre seated 4500 people. The mosaic there is the "Mona Lisa" of the region. The lower city and main streets cross in typical Roman quadrants, the Kardo running Nowth and South, the Decanthus running East and west. Coins read, "City of peace," since Jews aligned with Romans and were not destroyed.

Jordan T gives me some Rosemary, which grows over the walls and as shrubs along the paths. I clip a twig and smell is piney fragrance. "Eat it with sweet potatoes and olive oil," advises Ilan. "Don't forget to sprinkle the outside with coars salt!"

Jews had some pagan rites, but it seems Jesus held to strict Judaism. Torah and One God was the connection between various sects.

Sephorus was made the capital of the region by Herod Antimas, tetrarch of Galilee. Jesus was sent to him before his crucifixion. It is one hour to Nazareth from Sephorus. Indications in the NT are that Jesus was well-educated and had memorized the Torah.

Dates: first revolt: 66-73AD; 2nd revolt: 132-35 AD. The Mishnah shows many parallels to Jesus ministry, and was written in 200 AD. Jesus parables are a rabbinic teaching method of finding your own conclusion. They explain theology in down-to-earth terms. In Luke, at the cleansing of the temple, Jesus quotes abbreviations of an OT passage like the rabbis did. The quote is intended to trigger the context of the passage.

As said earlier, Jews believed the oral law was given to Moses along with the written law. It was forbidden by law to forget it and Jews passed it on to future generations. The three part of Torah for Jews showcased the divine gospel of God. 1. written; 2) oral; and 3) kabbulistic - even the gaps between letters have significance. In 200AD, the rabbi justified the writing of the Oral Law with, "We will do something aginst law (disrespect it) so that we can glorify (remember) it." He gathered traditions that were being forgotton.

In John's gospel, Jesus uses rabbinic oral Toral and variants to Hebrew manuscripts as well.

The Nile Mosaic of Sepphora is amazing. Why mosaics? they were easy to clean and maintain. The better ones, like this one, were done by the School of Mosaics in Egypt.

It's a quick trip to Nazaret and the Church of the Anunciation. We release on of Menacham's doves after putting a tag on it. It will carry the message back to his farm.

In 1990s, Muslims pushed to build a mosque with a taller minaret above the Church of the Anunciation. The pope got involved and there is no mosque yet. (The taller building indicates a superior God.)

Once again, art moves my emotions. The mosaics from various countries hanging on the coartyard passage wall and inside the church refelct the countries of origin. The German Madonna is chubby, holding hands with two stone-carved children. Then Korean mosaic has Asian eyes. Each shows Mary and Christ in the tradition - "Christ corsses culture." I am amazed.

The basement of the convent is filled with C1 tombes. A village probably with 200 families once existed here and was first mentioned in the NT. The area was settled from Abraham's era (Bronze), the Iron Age (David through the prophets), and Jesus.

The churches built on sacred spaces highlight the importance of pilgrimage to Byzantine Christians. Once a site becomes sacred, sacred space is retained, no matter what the religion. The Church of the Anunciation celebrates where the angel told Mary she would bear Jesus. A step-pool structure resembles Jewish patismal pools, so there may have been a synagogue nearby.

Mary was likely 12-13 years old, since the old saying was that if a girl reached 13 without being married, a father should release his slave and marry the daughter to him. Jesus' family ties him to the Jewish people. "Hail, favored of the Lord," indicates a Lukan puzzle of a devout family in C1 culture. Mary and Joseph were pious, consecrating their firstborn to God immediately. Mary paid attention to promptly undergoing purification after becoming ritually impure due to birth. Jesus' familiy went to the Passover annually, probably losing 2-3 weeks of work. For a poor family, that was a great sacrifice.

Joseph was a mason. C1 jews were suspect of pur academics, so theologians and rabbis had to work. (Hillel chops wood 1/2 day. Some sages were carpenters.) In Matthew, Joseph is tzadik or "righteous" indicating he was likely a learned AND pious sage. Joseph may have been older since it was the custom of devout young men to spend years studying the Torah before marriage. When Jesus said to the scribes of Jerusalem that he had to be "about my father's business," he was likely talking about the wisdom of study Joseph had acquired and doing the work that Joseph did week in and out.

Luke tells that Joseph brought Mary his betrothed from Nazareth to Bethelem. We make the assumption that Joseph came from Nazareth, but being counted in the census in Bethlehem means he was a landholder there. He had sexual relations with Mary in Bethlehem, so likely they were married there.

Cave at Nazareth that would have been
typical: back stable and front floor
"upper room" for family sleep,
fronted by a stone wall. (Pillars are
recent additions.)
We hear, "There was no room in the inn." The word "inn" is a different word, as per the Good Samaritan story. The word used here is "upper room," or the flat riased area outside the cave stable for animals where families slept. Sometimes a father would build an upper marital chaber where his son and wife lived. It is likely there were too many birth attendants to fit in the upper room, so probably Jesus was born in the main area of the house where animals were kept. Animals slept in the cave to prevent the family wealth from wandering off and so they could warm the home. A trough of mangers lay between the cave stable and main room, and this is likely where Jesus was laid after birth.

It is probably that Joseph lived in Bethlehem and got Mary from Nazareth. Early pictures of Christ's birth always show him in a cave. When Mary visited Elizabeth, tradition has it that John's house was outside Jerusalem, not far from Bethlehem.

In the church museum, we view five 1263AD pillar capitals of NT apostles. They are stunning carvings of Mary, Tabitha, Peter, Thomas, and James, done by French artists of the C12. They were buried and never used, hidden from invating Musliims and found in the early C20.

Church steeple of the Church of
We explore the church for a half hour after looking at the typical cave home. The Church itself is amazing, modern, built on two levels. On the lower level, the grotto supposedly for the angel and Mary is barred off from tourists, who gape through the gates at the holy site. Korean nuns stream past in their mid-calf white and grey outfits.

There's a mass at the front of the upper level, where someone is also tuning the organ, two octaves above middle C. The high whine of A B C D E almost does me in.

Once we get outside, the bells ring 5:30 vespers. We eat a snack of "Kanafe" outside the church in the mosque-to-be courtyard before boarding busses. W runs down the street to snap a grocer's sign where he could buy "Cheeses of Nazareth." Sadly, it's closed for Sabbath already and he doesn't get the actual cheese. Punny.

W and another prof share the Vespers at 8pm after supper at 7. It's a time for sharing, for listening, for prayerful encouragement of one another. We're ready for bed after writing and thinking - 10:30pm.

DAY 10
We have the Sabbath off. After a lazy morning, most of us hop busses to eat at Aroma Cafe. My portabello mushroom sandwich is fabulous. W has his second bout of indigestion (not drinking enough water) so he stays home. He's the smart one. We drive until 2:30 to find a beach, by which time the Sea of Galilee has kicked up whitecaps and the wind whips sandy grit over us.

Once I begin to get warm, I walk in and stagger out of the waves. I'm cool in the shade. When my suit dries, I accompany Susan up and down the beach for a walk. She shares an interesting story of how she arrived as a dorm student at Zion (or NC?) in her late 40s. Everyone has a tale to tell.

We leave the beach at 4 to return to the hotel before 5. I try without success to post the blog properly - the internet here is horrible and very limited. After supper, W attends the lecture. I rest in the room - except that he's still gone at 10. I can't fall asleep until he comes; if interrupted, my rest will disappear for hours. He's in the foyer, skypping with Jer for his 32nd birthday (we couldn't reach him earlier.) Students and he have been talking about the lecture. 

I toss him the keys and head back up to bed. Having one key has its drawbacks! It's going to be an early morning to see if I can fix the blog. Yes! W has success getting on at 6am. Student Dustin guards the computer so W doesn't have to close it up when he comes up to wake me.

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