In Acts 9, we read the account of the conversion of Saul. Saul had asked permission from the High Priest for him to travel to Damascus and bring followers of Christ back to Jerusalem. As you know, as he neared Damascus he saw a bright light and Jesus spoke to him. Soon thereafter, he spent some time with Ananias and was baptized. But, what do we know about his trip to Damascus? How far is it? Which roads did he take? Well, honestly, we don't know. The Bible doesn't give us that level of detail. But, we do know what roads were available during that time and can discuss the topic from that perspective.
The distance from Jerusalem to Damascus is around 150 miles. So, if Saul was traveling by foot, the trip would have taken about two weeks (give or take a few days). But, which path did he take?
The first option would have taken Saul east out of Jerusalem and descend to the Jordan Rift Valley via Wadi Qilt. (This would be the road that Jesus referred to in his parable of the Good Samaritan.) Once he arrived near Jericho, he would have turned north and headed toward Scythopolis (in the Old Testament, this city is called Beth-Shean). From Scythopolis, Saul would have crossed the Jordan River and proceeded north along the mountain ridge east of the Sea of Galilee (today, we refer to this ridge as the Golan Heights). From here, Saul would have traveled north toward the area of Caesarea Philippi where they would joined the Via Maris on their way to Damascus.
The second option, and the most likely option, is the northern route. From Jerusalem, Saul would have traveled north through the mountains of Samaria and arrived on the southern edge of the Jezreel Valley. As he crossed the Jezreel Valley, he would have joined the Via Maris which led toward the western shore of the Sea of Galilee in the Plain of Gennesaret. Following the northern shore of the sea, Saul would have passed Capernaum before heading north toward Caesarea Philippi and then on to Damascus.
After spending some time in Damascus, Saul headed back to Jerusalem. Most likely, along the same path on which he travelled some time earlier. If that is true, and as Saul approached the location where Jesus appeared to him, I wonder if he paused to contemplate how his life had changed since the last time he was there.
My would like to think that he probably did.
The picture at the top of this post was taken last September from the Israel/Syria border northwest of the Sea of Galilee. It is in this area where Saul would have traversed on his way to Damascus, which lies about 25 miles away. (NOTE: If you are reading this blog post from an email, you may need to click on the blog title to view the image in your browser.)