Friday, July 16, 2010

Galilee Summer

WARNING: This is a long post. Reading it in one sitting may induce sleep. I put it all down so that Sarah, Joel and Will will have a record of their Great Galilee adventure. They are amazing travelers.

The evening of July fourth, we joined with the BYU Jerusalem Center students for an American style dinner of hot dogs and hamburgers (with middle eastern spices mixed in)
We then enjoyed a carnival which included a fish pond, bobbing for apples (notice Joel's wet hair) and face painting. Earlier in the day Sarah decorated her patriotic shirt.

Next morning we began our eleven day Galilee field trip with a 6:30 am departure. First stop was Caesarea Maritime on the Mediterranean coast. Will is exploring the remains of the palace complex where Pontius Pilate would have lived and where Paul would have testified before Agrippa--who said to Paul: "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26). Another good story that I related in the large theater was that of Cornelius the Roman being visited by Peter--who had in a dream come to realize that now the gospel was to go to all the world. North of the palace complex is the hippodrome for chariot races and then beyond that is the large port built by Herod the Great. He built a Roman temple near the harbor to keep Rome happy while in Jerusalem he kept the Jews happy with his expansion of the Temple. What a politician-working both sides.
From the heights where the Roman Temple was located looking down to the meager remains of the once huge harbor. I have always wanted to volunteer to help with underwater scuba diving archeological digs in the harbor.
North of town are two aqueducts that brought water from springs near Mt. Carmel
Second stop was Nazareth. In addition to the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation and the Church of Joseph, we also visited the Greek Catholic Synagogue church. Here Brother Brown is recounting the Luke 4 story of the rejection of Jesus in the Synagogue.
We also visited the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation where according to Greek Orthodox tradition, Gabriel visited Mary at the well. We had a little free time to explore so I enjoyed some kanaffe--my favorite Middle Eastern desert.
Our final stop of the day was Mt. Arbel with its great view. Below is the plain of Magdala on the NW shore and the Mt. of Beatitudes and Capernaum on the northern shore.
Day two: Next morning we headed out at 7:15 for what many students consider to be the best field trip of the whole semester. It began with a boat ride across the Sea of Galilee from En Gev on the eastern shore to Ginnosar on the NW shore.

After we docked at Ginnosar you could see how low the sea is. All of the reeds and weeds up to the houses and large trees was once under water. Over consumption and five years of below average rainfall rain have kept the Sea of Galilee at dangerously low levels for years. In many ways the Sea of Galilee reminds me of Bear Lake in northern Utah--the low water level, the size and shape and the surrounding steep hill sides, particularly on the east side.
A few decades ago when the water was also very low, members of kibbutz Ginnosaur discovered a Jesus era boat buried in the mud of what had been the lake bed but was now the lake shore. The remains of the boat were preserved and provide a great image of the type of boat Jesus and his fisherman disciples would have used.

The Mt of Beatitudes is always a favorite for the students. We discuss the sermon on the mount and sing as a group. Then the students have free time for their own study, reading and writing.

We then walked down the mount to St. Peter's Primacy. I did this walk years ago and suggested it be added in to the field trip. It is much better than a bus ride. Along the way you get a good view back up the mount and it is easy to sea how Jesus may have stood at the base while people fanned out along the amphitheater like hillside. This photo is from last March. A few weeks before we arrived, a piece of broken glass refracted sun onto some dry grass and a wild fire started burning many of the fields surrounding the church.St. Peter's Primacy commemorates where Jesus told Peter to "Feed my sheep"

The Church at Tabgha is built on the remains of a Byzantine basilica so the new church maintains the shape and structure of the original church.

This site is associated with the miracle of the loaves and fishes (feeding of the five thousand). Seven springs once flowed in this area. The Byzantine mosaic under the altar is of two fish and a basket of loaves.

Nearby is Capernaum with its basalt homes and limestone synagogue.

We usually sit in the synagogue to discuss the Bread of Life sermon but it was way too hot and there was no shade so we opted for a shady areas to the west of the synagogue.

The newest addition to Capernaum is the modernistic church built over the hexagonal church that was built over the house of Peter's mother-in-law, whom he healed.

The remains of the house and the church underneath the modern church.

Jesus very often used familiar objects and topics in his teaching. More than the usual amount of grain grinding mills were found in the excavations at Capernaum which suggest that flour production was a important industry in the town. The hollow hour glass shaped stone was placed over the cone shaped stone. Wooden rods were then placed into the belt buckle like notch and then two women (as described in Matthew 24: 41) would turn the stone as wheat was dropped into the top of the hour glass where it was ground as it descended to the bottom, emerging as flour.

We had some extra time so we visited the small, lovely Greek Orthodox church at Capernaum. It was my first visit to this church. In the foreground are vast unexcavated ruins of Capernaum.
The church had wonderful images of Christ's Sea of Galilee ministry. Here he sleeps in the boat while the tempest rages.
Here Peter walks on water.
And here is the depiction of the John 21 account of Peter jumping in to the sea to go see the Resurrected Christ.
Our final stop was Bethsaida--which has only recently been excavated and open to the public. Peter, Andrew and Philip all come from this town. Because of all of the miracles performed here, it was cursed along with Chorazin and Capernaum.
This street with its adjoining shops was not open to visitors during our visits in the two previous semesters. I can image Jesus walking down such a street crowded with throngs of people hoping to be healed.

For Day Three I taught my New Testament class from 8-11. We sat under the shade of a tree on a grassy area overlooking the sea of Galilee. Marie and the kids enjoyed the morning on the beach at En Gev holiday resort. After class Ehab and Kim Abunuwara and their four kids came to visit. We enjoyed visiting on the beach and playing in the water. Ehab is from Nazareth (where we were roommates in 1989). He and his family now live in Orem Utah. They are visiting his parents and siblings in Nazareth for a month.
Day four we field tripped to Gamla (the Masada of the north) on the Golan Heights.
A few months ago a wild fire burned the dry remains of the lush green vegetation we saw on our March visit.
Next stop the Talmudic era Jewish village of Katzrin. A restored third century home gives a good idea about how houses during the time of Christ may have looked.

Our next stop (not officially on the field trip schedule, but one of a few things I have slipped in) was a war memorial on the Golan Heights. It is a memorial to the Israeli soldiers who have died in battles with Syria over the Golan. This is a one-time Syrian bunker. It looks down on the Jordan River (the former border between Syria and Israel) and the Huleh Valley of Israel. It is a nice visual reminder of the strategic aspects of the Golan Heights and the former vulnerability of Israel.
Students and kids enjoy climbing in the bunkers and also taking photos in front of the "Danger Mine Field" signs posted on all the fences ringing the memorial.
The final stop before lunch was Kursi--the traditional site of where Christ cast out devils into swine which then ran down the steep slope into the Sea of Galilee.

Day five included three hours of New Testament teaching and then an afternoon rafting trip down the Jordan River with all of the students. That evening my NT class enjoyed a St. Peter's Fish dinner and then a visit to Tiberius for gelato. There is not much night life on a Friday (Sabbath) evening but enough shops are open to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth.

Day Six--the Sabbath, we joined the Tiberius branch for a wonderful sacrament meeting. Then we drove to Nazareth--seen here from from the Jewish town of Upper Nazareth that rises to the east of Arab Nazareth. The village of Jesus' day would have been a cluster of homes in the center of the basin around the cone shaped done of the Church of the Annunciation.
That afternoon we had a very nice visit to the Nazareth Village--which recreates the Nazareth of Jesus' day. In the introductory display room, one of the displays included a quote from my book. Friends from Jerusalem had seen it and alerted us to its existence.
The quote from my book in in the center column. The display also included a Smith quote included in my book.
The visit was a great substitute for Primary and Sunday School. Here is a shepherd at the gate to a sheep fold. John 10 has some great shepherd imagery: "I am the door of the sheep," "I am the good shepherd," I lay down my life for my sheep." And from Ezekiel 34 "there shall they lie in a good fold."
A carpenter with tools common to two thousand years ago. The word translated to be carpenter in the King James Bible means artisan and more likely than not refers to a stone mason rather than a carpenter of wood.
Learning how to spin and weave.
A synagogue. When Jesus stood (Luke 4) in the synagogue of Nazareth and read from Isaiah it is easy to see how "the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened upon him" with seats always arranged along the walls.
The family/dining room
"I am the light of the world"
We then had a wonderful dinner at the home of Samir and Suad Abunuwara. Their son Ehab (red shirt) was my roommate in Nazareth and in Provo. For my year in Nazareth I enjoyed many a Sunday dinner at the Abunuwara home. Ehab's mom cooked my favorites--stuffed zucchini, stuffed grape leaves--with yogurt on top, rice with nuts, tomato cucumber salad etc. It was all delicious.
Sunset over Mt. Arbel as seen from our En Gev porch.

Day seven was another full field trip day. We reversed the order and started out at Beit Shean to avoid the usual late afternoon heat, then the mosaics at the Beit Alpha Synagogue followed by a refreshing swim at Gan Hashalosha. It was Sunday and most of the many people enjoying the pools were Israeli Arabs. Galye Brown (the wife of associate director Kent Brown) always takes photos on the field trips and then e-mails them to appreciative faculty and students. Here is a photo she took of us in the simple church at Nain that commemorates the raising of the widow's son. Will was wiped out from many long days of touring and swimming. We are all singing "Praise to the Lord". In the church of Nain we discuss about how Jesus walked through the night from Capernaum to get to Nain in time to raise the dead son. By doing so he showed great compassion for the mother--who without a husband and now her only child would be doomed to a life of poverty. I then suggest that in today's world the title of "widow" should be applied to reaching out and helping any woman who is vulnerable and without sufficient help to provide for herself or her children. One group in particular that I think is deserving of such care are single mothers with young children--especially if ex-husbands are not paying their child support.

At Mt. Tabor Will sat down to watch part of a Catholic mass.

The large church has side chapels dedicated to Elijah and Moses. I like this painting of Moses with the burning bush and water flowing from rock in the background. There was quite a wait for vans going up and down the mountain so I led a group of adventuresome, not-too-tired students down the switchback road to the base. It was a brisk 35 minute walk. For those who rode the vans the wait and ride was 25 minutes.
Day eight. After three hours of New Testament class in the morning, we took an afternoon excursion to Belvoir Castle with its large dry moat.

The Crusade castle is north of Beit Shean and is strategically perched overlooking the Jordan Valley. The Jordanian half of the valley is green. The Israeli side is mostly fallow fields and fish ponds.

Mt. Tabor in the haze to the west of the castle. It looks like a "high mountain apart" (Matt 17:1)
I liked the way the crusaders mixed the use of limestone and basalt.

We exited the castle via a secret passage down and out into the moat. It was used during times of siege.
Back in time for our refreshing end of day swim. Every day at about 4:oo westerly winds would come in creating impressive waves. Two of the days the waves were big enough for the students to body surf. We all had fun playing in the fresh water waves. Will was unstoppable. He would stand chest-neck deep in the waves and then try to jump them or dive through them. He must have swallowed half of the lake (further adding to Israel's water shortage).
During the calm waters of the day, Joel and Will both practiced and improved their swimming skills. Sarah worked on her handstands--she's improving but her dad is still best.
Day nine we headed north to Tel Hazor--defeated by Joshua and the place from which Jabin sent forth Sisera to be defeated by Deborah and Barak. This is the royal palace complex. Hazor has a nice water shaft and tunnel leading down to a spring far below the tel. It was built during the rule of king Ahab.

Dan in the far north is a fun place to visit. Water gushes forth from springs in the limestone to form the Dan River--one of the three main headwaters of the Jordan River.
All of the springs and water create a lush jungle like oasis that is great for hiking and exploring.
The first king of the northern kingdom--King Jeroboam--built an altar and temple here as well as Bethel as a substitute and rival to Jerusalem. He then introduced the worship of golden calves. His actions got Israel started with idolatry, which was one of the main causes of its downfall and exile.
The temple platform
The northern perimeter of Dan looked out on Syria until border changes during the 1967 war. Fox holes still remain.

This amazing arched Canaanite Gate is from the time of Abraham. When he came to Dan to rescue Lot, Abraham very likely may have walked through this gate.

The later Israelite gate into Dan is the place where kings would meet with people and where business was transacted (Boaz negotiated for Ruth in the gate of Bethlehem).

King Will sitting in the gate complex where the Kings of Israel would have met with subjects.

Class photo in a large pistachio tree

Can you find three Emmett children?

Just up the road is Banias (named after the god Pan) aka Caesarea Philippi. Here "living water" springs forth from the rock. It is in this region that Jesus said "thou are Peter and upon this rock" I will build my church. That rock is revelation, the gospel and Jesus Christ. Banias is another headwater of the Jordan. It was formerly part of Syria.

Further up the Golan Heights we visited the Arab built Nimrod's Castle. Great fun exploring.

The Huleh Valley lies below.
The archway rocks that look like they are about to fall are the result of an earthquake in which the arch pulled apart just long enough for the rocks to slip before the arch returned to its original place.

A large cistern
Down some dark winding stairs
to a bat cave
We then drove through the Druze villages of the northern Golan Heights to this final stop looking over into Syria. The complex of white buildings in the center are for UN peacekeeping forces. The reservoir and more distant white buildings are all part of Syria.

For our tenth day, we skipped the field trip (at the recommendation of my colleague Bill Hamblin who offered to lead the trip solo rather than the usual joint production) to Sepphoris and Akko so that the kids could sleep in and I could have a rest from many straight days of non stop work. We drove north through the Huleh Valley. We stopped at the kibbutz that manufactures Neot sandals and Marie found a comfortable pair to wear.
We then crossed the Jordan River just after its three tributaries had merged.
Along the road we happened upon the Senir (Hasbani) River national park. We went for a stream side walk. This third source of the Jordan is a river that originates in Lebanon.
The rest of the excursion was to satisfy my political geography curiosity and to traverse roads and visit places I have wanted to see for many years. We headed past these camouflaged tanks and climbed up the hills in the distance to a road that paralleled the Lebanon-Israel border.
This is the view from the road down on the northern Huleh Valley with Mt Hermon (another mountain set apart that could be the site of the transfiguration) rising in the distance. It is home to Israel's only ski resort. Syria once controlled all of Mt Hermon.
The view westward from the road was into southern Lebanon which is everything beyond the green band of trees.
We then stopped at Baram with its impressive third century Jewish Synagogue.
It also has a more recent Maronite Church. Up until 1948 Baram was a Maronite Christian Arab village. At the end of the war the residents of Baram, who had not fled during the war like other Arab villages, were forced by Jewish forces to relocate. The whole population of the village was forced out in the name of state security since Baram is just a few miles from the border with Lebanon. Most of the villagers relocated to nearby Jish with the promise that one day they would be allowed to return.
They were not allowed to return. Most depopulated Arab villages were demolished at the end of the '48 war, but for some reason the homes of Baram were left standing.
Their ruins now stand as a sad reminder of continuing injustices in the world.

A little further south we visited Jish--another Christian Arab village that absorbed the refugees from Baram. In the distance is Mt. Merom--the highest mountain in the Galilee and a third possible site for the transfiguration. The green of the Galilee is quite a contrast to the summer brown landscapes of southern Israel.

The Jewish hilltop settlement (mitzpim/lookout) of Hararit. It is part of the Israel policy started in 1956 calling for the Judaization of the Galilee--a policy intended to dilute the mostly Arab Galilee. Down in the valley are Arab olive orchards.

The view from Hararit down on the Arab town of Deir Hanna.

In order to keep the miztpim (lookouts) like Hararit (on the hilltop) from expanding on to Arab lands below, Arab villagers responded with massive tree plantings. Old Ottoman laws forbid expropriating lands that are cultivated. I visited this same place in 1989 when these olive trees had just been planted.

Eleventh day. The bronze age gate of Meggido.
From atop tel Meggido with the valley of Armageddon in the distance.
The archeological cut at Megiddo where 25 successive layers of habitation have been found. The circular mound of stones was a Canaanite altar/shrine. Religious shrines of later groups were built atop this sacred place.
A grain granary
Restored portions of the stables for the horses for Solomon's chariots.
The shaft leading down to the tunnel...
which extended out to the spring beyond the city walls. This tunnel provided a safe way to get water when the city was under siege. James Michener's book "The Source" is based on Megiddo and its safe water source.

Next stop was Mt. Carmel where Elijah contended with the priests of Baal, then onto Haifa with the wonderful view of the Bahai gardens and Shrine of the Bab (which is enclosed in scaffolding).
The port City of Haifa.
Looking north across Akko bay.

Our final stop of the day was the German Templar cemetery in Haifa. I wrote about this last fall in my Galilee post, but did not post many photos. Two LDS missionaries who died in Haifa in the 1890s are buried here. Their grave stones are matching cut off pillars representing lives cut short.

Adolf Haag
John Clark

The first convert--Georg Grau, a blacksmith. He was seen in a dream by missionary Jacob Spori.

His wife Magdalena Grau has the verse from Revelations about "Another angel flying in the midst of heaven." Marie and I are always touched by the stories and gravestones of these four latter-day saints.
Driving south to Jerusalem along highway 6 we passed the West Bank City of Qalqilya which is surrounded on all sides by The Wall.


  1. Oh Brother Emmett, I miss this place! And you all!

  2. Wow, I hope there's not a test tomorrow, cause I'm going to need more time to study. That's a lot of information and a bunch of cool places. Great trip report, as always.

  3. Brother Emmett, thank you so much for posting all those pictures and the captions. I miss it so much, and it was good to be reminded of some things I'm forgetting about each place. We know you'll be sad to leave but all of us from Fall semester can't wait to have you here in Utah!!!

  4. Whew! Awesome Post. So glad to see your photos and site descriptions. It brings back a ton of great memories from our trip last May. Can't wait to see you all!

  5. Chad - once again your posts of food items has my stomach growling for some good near eastern food. I would love to take on the center's interpretation of a hotdog/4ht of July BBQ with near eastern spices - that could be excellent.

    The Katzrin village was one of the best things I remember from being there. I had some very special moments sitting on a floor in one of those re-created homes. I'll never forget it.

    Come home soon and safely! We're missing you all this weekend at the campout with the Chambers...