Viewing entries tagged

One Year Ago - The Little Town of Bethlehem

Tim Smelser, one of the members of our tour, stands with the Negeb in the background. 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.

A year ago today, we went to the small town of Bethlehem. (Actually, it is no longer that small.)

Located just six miles south of Jerusalem, is the town of Bethlehem. This was the town that David was from. And, it was the town that Jesus was born in. We visited the Church of the Nativity, which sits above the traditional location where Jesus was born. From there, we traveled to the Shepherds' fields and then to the Herodium.

Our final stop of the day was at Shibly Kando's Antiquities shop. Mr. Kando is the grandson of one of the main people involved in the discovery and recognition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. In his store, you can see one of the four original jars on display. (Two of the other three are located at the Israel Museum and the other one is located at the Vatican in Rome.)

Tomorrow: The Israel Museum and Ashkelon.

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.

Arad Altar

Arad_IA_Altar The Iron Age fortress of Arad protected the frontier divide between the Negev desert and the Judaean Hill Country, while also guarding the lucrative trade routes passing from the Persian Gulf and Edom to Egypt and the Mediterranean.  Within this fortress, a cultic site was discovered, which was destroyed in the 8th century, likely during Hezekiah’s reforms.  It featured this large altar, as well as a Holy of Holies and may be the “House of Yahweh” referenced in local inscriptions.

Makhtesh Ramon

1_Negev_RamonCrater_1 The spectacular Makhtesh Ramon is not noted in the Biblical account, but it borders a valuable route leading from both Petra to Gaza, as well from the Judaean Hill Country down to the Gulf of Aqaba.  Though sometimes called a crater, the makhteshim are not impact craters, but are created when the soft sandstone strata erodes from under the harder upper layer, leading to its collapse.  Unique mineral deposits have created a variety of sandstone colors, including pink, yellow, and black.

Negev Desert Cistern

4_Negev_DesertCistern The desert does not necessarily have to be deadly, if you know how to survive in it.  Water is of primary importance, and so wells and cisterns, or pits dug to catch water, are of primary importance.  The first-century Arabs of the Negev, the Nabateans, knew this, and built cisterns throughout the Southern Highlands.  Desert creatures like camels and wild donkeys still come to these cisterns for water today.

Sheep Herd in the Negev

05_Negev_Sheep_1 Sheep and goat herding is still an important facet in the lives of many in the Middle East.  The Bedouin herds can be found grazing anywhere from large cities like Ashkelon to firing ranges in the desert.  Anywhere there is forage, you can be sure there is a herd of sheep or goats nearby.