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Understanding the Land

7_1_Hazor_FullTel_small A couple of years ago, some friends of mine (Trent & Rebekah Dutton) had the opportunity to spend six weeks traveling across the land of Israel on their own. This allowed them the chance to see the land from different perspectives that people on a normal tour do not get to see.

One of my favorite pictures in their collection is one taken from the hills west of the Hula Valley and north of the Sea of Galilee. The picture is directed toward the east and shows the Hula Valley spreading across the foreground and the Golan Heights rising in the distance. In the floor of the valley is the tel of Hazor. (In the picture, the tel is located in the bottom right hand corner just above where the road crosses the small ravine.) This picture is a perfect example of the importance of understanding the land and having pictures and videos to study by.

As I have mentioned before, I love maps. But even the best maps represent the city of Hazor as a simple dot. It is hard to appreciate the importance of the position of the city of Hazor unless you see the city from the perspective of this picture.

That is one of the many reasons why I am so excited about the Appian Media Kickstarter project. We are going to be making five 20-minute videos about the early life of Jesus. To do this, we are going to travel to Israel and capture video from the places where these events took place. By seeing video of these places, Bible students can better appreciate the writings in the Gospels and the narrative of Jesus. Our goal is to create these videos and give them away for free for Bible students all over the world. We have already reached our primary goal, so the videos will be made. But, we have a number of stretch goals that we would love to hit to provide additional resources for all of the users.

Will you help us?

Visit our Kickstarter page and please forward this link to anyone who you might feel would be interested. And please pray for our efforts and that God's Word will be spread.

One Year Ago - Northern Galilee and the Hula Valley

The ruins of the ancient city of Caesarea Philippi.NOTE: I am continuing my series of retrospective posts on the our tour one year ago. I invite you to start at the beginning and read through all of them. Waking up on the shores of the Sea of Galilee is an experience like none other. Before the sun rises, you hear the water lapping up on the shore. Then, the eastern sky gradually changes from a deep, dark blue to a golden yellow. All of the sudden, the first rays of the sun poke through the trees in the Golan Heights. Every time that I see it, I imagine Peter, Andrew, James and John seeing very similar sunrises after a night of fishing. It is a beautiful thing to see.

One year ago, we spent the entire day traversing north up the Hula Valley. Our first stop was at Hazor. The size of this city is amazing and something that doesn't come through in the Biblical narrative. It is no wonder why Joshua thought it was so important to seize this city.

We drop past Abel Beth Maacah and remembered the story of Sheba. We walked through the tel at Dan. There we visited the High Place built by King Jeroboam to keep the people in the nation of Israel from traveling to Jerusalem to worship God. We also visited Caesarea Philippi and remembered Peter's confession of Jesus as the son of God.

As we drove back to the Sea of Galilee through the Golan Heights, we were able to look over into the modern country of Syria toward the city of Damascus. Paul received his vision somewhere in this area.

Our day ended at et-Tell, the possible location of the New Testament city of Bethsaida. Another wonderful day in the books.

Tomorrow: A full day around the Sea of Galilee.

2015 Israel Poster B

Have you been enjoying these posts on last year's tour? Are you interested in traveling with me this year? Then, I would love to have you join me. Our 12-day tour is scheduled for October 12-23. We will stay one night on the Mediterranean Sea, three nights on the shores of the Sea of Galilee and five nights in beautiful Jerusalem. During the day, we will visit dozens of sites that will enhance your understanding of the land and of the Biblical stories that take place in them. Reservations are coming in, but we still have some availability! This is a first-class tour with many extras thrown in that many Israel tours overlook. If you are interested, I encourage you to read the itinerary and contact me personally for more details.


2_Hazor_3 The ancient tell of Hazor is one of the largest sites in Israel at around 200 acres.  However, the Iron Age Israelite occupation is mostly isolated to the upper city (the hill just above the modern bridge in the lower right corner), which features a beautiful Solomonic gate.  As with so many important cities in the Levant, Hazor’s greatest value was its strategic position in the narrow pass into the Huleh Basin, a road that connected the Southern Levant to Damascus.

Northern Galilee

Northern Galilee


This morning's sunrise was partly cloudy. Therefore, the initial sunrise over the Sea of Galilee wasn't impressive, but a few minutes later, the suns rays shined through the clouds to remind us that "The heavens declare the glory of God". hazorAfter a great breakfast, we headed north of the Sea to the Hula Valley. Our first stop was at the ancient city of Hazor. The location of this city is vitally important as it controls all traffic on the Via Maris in ancient times.

From there, we drove to the northern edge of the country of Israel and viewed the site of Abel-Beth Maacah. Although it is impossible to take an entire tour group to the site, this is a favorite of mine because of how the city is situated on a hill with a commanding view of the surrounding area. Although we didn't stay long, our visit to the city went much better than Sheba's (2 Samuel 20).

We then drove a little farther north to the Israeli city of Metula to have a view over into the country of Lebanon.

dan_solomonic_gateTel Dan was our next stop. After walking through the nature preserve, we arrived at the High Place built by King Jeroboam, first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. This single bad decision by King Jeroboam basically sealed the fate for his country. The people followed him and they never recovered. We walked through the Solomonic gate and finally viewed the ancient Canaanite gate.

Leaving Dan, we traveled to Banias (ancient Caesarea Philippi). The cultic worship that was evident during the time of Christ makes Peter's answer to Jesus' question so much more meaningful ("Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God").

jordan_riverAfter driving through the Golan Heights (with a stop of a view toward Syria), we arrived at the Jordan River, just north of the Sea of Galilee. Due to the shortage of rain during the most recent rainy season, the flow was probably lower than I have ever seen it. But, it is always a thrill to be able to see such a famous river.

We arrived back at the hotel tired, hungry and pleased with the day. Heading to bed to get a good night's rest before tomorrow.

From Israel, Shabbat Shalom.