Journey of Israel

Diane Engel’s blog of her journey of the biblical Holy Land.

Posted November 12, 2019

Caesarea

As we begin our journey of Israel, our first stop was to the ancient ruins of Caesarea. Founded in 22 AD by King Herod, little remains of the original palace, but a few columns and the swimming pool are still visible. Some debate as to whether Pontius. Pilate. was an actual person was put to rest, when during excavations, a large stone was found with his name carved in the inscription. During this time period, Caesarea was a large city, and the amphitheater there is the oldest in Israel. The significance of Caesarea, is that St Peter traveled there to preach the Good News, and converted Cornelius, the first Roman centurion to be baptized.

Caesarea
Caesarea
Caesarea
Caesarea

Posted November 12, 2019

Megiddo

Driving across the Ira ‘ El Valley toward Megiddo, we were reminded of the significance of this place. The trade route passed here, and whoever controlled the valley, controlled the taxes and tolls along the route. Megiddo, mentioned in the book of Revelation as the site of the final battle of Armageddon, was selected by the Apostle John because of the many battles fought in the valley. 25 layers of the city were destroyed and rebuilt, one layer on top of another. Kings David, Solomon, and Ahab all rebuilt Megiddo during their reigns.

Megiddo
Megiddo
Megiddo
Megiddo

Posted November 12, 2019

Church of the Transfiguration

The Church of the Transfiguration, high above the Izra’el. Valley, is the site where the Apostles Peter, James and John, accompanied Jesus to the top of Mount Tabor. While there, Jesus was Transfiguration to a dazzling white light. Peter asked if he should build a tent (tabernacle) for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, but as Christ was transfigured, Peter exclaimed that He was the true son of God.. 1) Church of the Transfiguration 2) Above the alter, the transfigured Christ.

Church of the Transfiguration
Church of the Transfiguration

Posted November 16, 2019

Cana

Nathaniel Bartholomew was inquisitive to know why the people of Nazareth were clamoring to see Jesus. They replied that he was the Rabbi from Nazareth who was preaching about God, and he asked, “can anything good come come from Nazareth ?” Jesus and his Mother were guests at a wedding in Cana, and when the hosts ran out of wine, Jesus performed his first miracle, by changing the water into wine which was superior to the wine served by the host. Inquisitive Nathaniel followed Jesus and later became the Apostle Bartholomew. A Franciscan church and a Greek Orthodox church are both built over the site believed to be the wedding church of Cana. Under Jewish law, ceremonial vessels could not be made of clay, and only stone hand carved vessels were used.

Cana
Cana

Posted November 16, 2019

Sea of Galilee

Although many stories are written about Jesus and his Disciples in and around the Sea of Galilee, I imagined it to be smaller than it actually is. The Sea is larger and wider, and now, distances make those stories even more exciting. We rode around the Sea in a wooden boat, and images of fishing became a harsh reality. I became overwhelmed with what a difficult task the disciples must have had with a smaller and simple boat, and how terribly frightened they felt, not only in a storm, but in seeing Jesus walking towards them on the water. It will be thrilling for me to come home and read these amazing stories again. BOATS AND ST PETER’S FISH

Sea of Galilee
St. Peter's Fish

Posted November 16, 2019

Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp

Last night, we enjoyed a delightful and educational evening with an Israeli Bedouin man who helped us learn about life in earlier days. We listened to this humorous man explain about farming, cooking, family life, and religious aspects of life in Israel, in both ancient times and now. We put on traditional Bedouin dress and head wear, made pita bread, rode donkeys, and ate a delicious dinner… it was an interesting evening full of laughter.

Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp
Galilean Dinner at a Bedouin Camp

Posted November 16, 2019

Palestine

Today, we traveled through the West Bank to Palestine. The borders are very secure to prevent easy access to Israel and the possibility of anti-Israeli. factions entering. As we passed the border with Jordan, we noticed double rows of electric fences, which would make it difficult to enter seemingly endless wasteland of desert. Several people commented that it looked similar to Auschwitz. We traveled onward to Jericho, where they are still under going excavations of the ancient city ruins. Thankfully, we journeyed to the top of the Mount of Temptation by cable cars. This is the site believed to be where Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and was tempted by Satan three times. There is a beautiful Greek Orthodox monastery near the top of the mountain, but we had to climb up 13 flights of stairs to get there. It was well worth the hike, even though we were all huffing, puffing and sweating in the midday heat. Inside the monastery was the cave where it is believed Jesus lived during his stay in the desert. . Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside. We were told that for hundreds of years, monks lived in the caves near the monastery. It is a very desolate, but humbling place.

Palestine
Palestine
Palestine
Palestine
Palestine
Palestine
Palestine
Palestine

Posted November 17, 2019

Bethlehem

As we drive towards Bethlehem on a newly paved highway, in our air conditioned luxury tour bus, my thoughts today are of Mary and Joseph and their perilous journey to Bethlehem. This is a harsh and arid country, rocky and rugged. Last night, at a Bedouin camp, we rode donkeys for a short time, and although it was fun and we all laughed a lot, actually riding was slightly difficult. I now have a great appreciation for what poor Mary endured for many weeks. After our meal, we returned to the luxury of our hotel, but Mary never even had the opportunity to spend the night in a simple inn. They were lucky to have the shelter of a stable inside of a cave. The smell must have been unbearable. But it was what God himself ordained. That His son would have the humblest birth, and then reign as King of all the heavens and the earth. I myself was humbled by the journey, but gave great thanks for the comfort of my hotel. 1 ) Church of the Nativity. 2) floor marking the traditional site of the place of Jesus birth.

Bethlehem

Posted November 17, 2019

Masada

Our journey continues to the ancient ruins of Masada deep in the desert in the West Bank. I was completely astonished by the endless mountains and valleys of this area, as I was unaware of the vastness of space where very little vegetation grows, and very few animals or people live. (photos 1-5 ) Masada was rebuilt as a palace and fortification by King Herod who reigned from 37 -4 BC. (Photos 6-12 ) The palace of Herod was quite luxurious for the time, and much of the lower levels of the buildings remains. Restoration is ongoing, and a large black line is drawn on buildings to indicate demarcation between original and restored. Some people walked up to the top of the mountain, but thankfully, we rode the cable cars. The scenery was beautiful, and the Dead Sea was glistening in the sunlight.

Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada
Masada

Posted November 21, 2019

Jerusalem

We started our journey today on the Mount of Olives, which was a gathering place outside the city, where Jesus and the Disciples met for teaching and relaxation. This is the site where Jesus taught them the Lord’s prayer. We then walked the route they took into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. we continued on to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus went on what we now call Maundy Thursday, and was betrayed by Judas, and was arrested by Roman soldiers. Many of the trees there are about 800 years old, but none remain from the time of Jesus. Our next stop took us to the Church of the Annunciation, where tradition holds it was built over the house of Mary and where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear the son of God. Next stop was to the Church of the Visitation, built over the site of the house of Elizabeth and Zechariah, parents of John the Baptist. It is said that an angel appeared to Zechariah to tell him his barren wife would bear a son, but he laughed. Because of his unbelief, he would be unable to speak until the child was circumcised… Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, an Elizabeth exclaimed that Mary was blessed, and was favored by God. From this came the words of the Magnificat. (no photos with this one… she said she lost them)

Jerusalem, Our journey through Jerusalem continued, and perhaps, this was one of the most important and memorable days so far. After the arrest of Jesus, he was taken to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, where Jesus was held prisoner. The Church of St Peter of Gallicantu is built over the site. The cell where Jesus was held. When Jesus was brought before the Sanhedron, and convicted, Peter denied him three times before the cock crowed. Top of church with symbol of crow. Road Jesus walked on his way to prison.

Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Posted November 24, 2019

Jerusalem

Our journey through Jerusalem continued to commemorate the path of Jesus during His last few days. Today, we walked the route Jesus made on His way to the cross, the Via Dolorosa. While we do not truly know the exact path that Jesus walked, we do know that the current streets have been rebuilt many times over the centuries, and the path that is now marked is a commemoration of his suffering. It was extremely crowded, with jostling people from all over the world. Many prayers and songs could be heard, and some groups carried a large cross. It was an emotional morning, walking from the courtyard of Pontius Pilate to the Church of the Holy Suplechor.

Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Posted November 24, 2019

Jerusalem

Our journey through Israel is coming to an end. It has been exciting, inspiring, exhausting, and humbling. It has been a “bucket list” trip for many years, and I cannot believe I have really been here to see and walk the land where Jesus was born, lived and died. My emotions were varied,but always filled with awe and astonishment. We must keep in mind that the sites we visited are “traditionally held” to be the location of events, but probably not the actual site, as no one posted signs 2000 years ago to document them. Also, cities and landscapes have been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, and excavations are continuing to further our knowledge of history. I hope some of you enjoyed seeing this Holy Land, and have aspirations to one day journey here too. Some final photos showing the fun we had, and the landscapes of Israel.

Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem
Jerusalem