Coming back to Israel a second time is really something to get excited about but not nearly as big as coming back and bringing your Sunday School teacher and her husband along with you. Sylvia and Buddy have traveled with us before so William and I are honored to tag along with them as we tour the Holy Land once again.
We all tried our best to keep a smile and a good attitude as we made the very long journey from our home in North Carolina all the way to Israel. It became necessary last minute that we leave on this trip a day later than we originally planned and the only flight we could get up to Newark for our ELAL flight to Israel had us up at 3:30 AM. None the less, the excitement level remained high as we navigated thru both Newark Airport and Tel Aviv Airport.
Tourism has just reopened in Israel and along with that came a lot of new entry requirements, First we had to have a Covid test 72 hours before our flight and then once we arrived we had to have another Covid test before leaving the airport. We also needed to submit an entry request online 24 hours before the flight. Thanks to our wonderful tour guides we breezed right through Ben Gurion Airport.
Finally we arrived at our hotel in Netanya, where we checked into our hotel which was perched right on the Mediterranean Sea. The view from our balcony will be one we will not soon forget.
We started our second day at Caesarea National Park The ruins of this city built by King Herod are so well preserved. We saw the theatre where Buddy was invited to sing on stage with no microphone. It was amazing how well the sound traveled all the way up to the very last seats. It wasn’t long before everyone there began to sing along with him.
As we walked from the Amphitheatre we could see the columns that still to this day remain from King Herod’s Palace.
Below is evidence that King Herod’s Palace even had a fresh water pool .
Caesarea had a huge Hippodrome for horse and chariot races.
And of course they needed a”bathroom” at the arena. Just imagine water running thru the trenches under the rocks where our guide is seated and you’ll get the picture.
But the most important find at Caesarea is the stone that was enscribed “Pontious Pilatus the prefect of Judea”. This proves without a doubt that the Roman Prefect who prosided over the trial of Jesus was here at Caesarea by the Sea. Below is a replica of the stone – the original stone is in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Our guide, Shira told us that just in the last few years they had uncovered a jail. Here Dr. Reichman talked to us about Paul who was a Roman citizen that was held here on “house arrest” for two years awaiting his trial in Rome. It’s interesting to realize that Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus but became the most influential gentile taking the gospel to the gentiles and founding Christian churches across Europe and Asia Minor.
Herod also built a deep water harbor and designed it so that the silt would be taken out as the tides ebbed and flowed.
Out last stop at Caesarea was to see the aqueducts that brought the water from the mountains to the sea. It just amazes me that this still remains here today after more than 2000 years.
From there we drove up to Mt. Carmel which was the scene of Elijah’s confrontation with the false prophets of Baal.
King Ahab was a really bad King of the Northern Kingdom. His wife Queen Jezabel was also a very evil woman. Here on Mount Carmel King Ahab had his God of Thunder and Lightning pray for fire to light the sacrifice but he was unable to accomplish this. Elijah made trenches around the alter for the sacrifice and filled them with water. Today we learned that bringing those 12 barrels of water to put in the trench surrounding the altar was no easy feat. We could see how far they would have had to walk down the mountain to get the water. And they did it three times! We also found it very interesting to learn that visibility from the Valley below would have made it possible for all of Judea to see the fires coming down from the heavens.
Our tour guides can really pack a lot into a day. After leaving Mount Carmel we had lunch and headed out to Megiddo, a world heritage site. I really didn’t understand what a “Tel” was until Shari explained it all to us using Buddy as a visual aid.
I believe the story went something like this. Each time a new civilization would come to this location they would say, “Wow, this looks like a wonderful place to build. The valley is so fertile, the mountain gives us great protection, and there is lots of water here.” So they would build there and after that civilization was ended another civilization would come along and build upon that old civilization and so on until you had an even higher mountain with civilization upon civilization. At this site they have uncovered 26 different civilizations. No wonder the mountain or Tel is so high. Megiddo was very strategic throughout history and was one of King Solomon’s Chariot Cities.
Here Sylvia and Buddy are touching stones that were at the gate during King Solomon’s reign.
When we think of Jesus being born in a manger we have a totally different visual image than what a manger really looked like during that time. Maybe we will begin to think of it quite different now that we have actually seen a manger here at Megiddo.
I know our hats are quite stylish but the real reason is protection from the heat and sun here in Israel. William had been looking for a Panama hat for sometime and finally found this one at Caesarea.
Had it not been for his new friend and hero Rachael he certainly would have lost it here at Megiddo where the wind just lifted it right off his head. Rachael saw his despair and climbed over the railing and down the Tel to rescue it.
The Discalced Carmelites were pilgrims to Mount Carmel who settled there in solitude and lived a life of poverty (shoeless)
After a very long and wonderful day we headed to Tiberias where we will explore the area around the Sea of Galilee.