We started our day below the slopes of Mt. Gilboa. On this mountain, Saul & Jonathan were killed as well as another memorable event. It was here that the Judge of Israel, Gideon, brought his troops before going to battle against the Midianites. After the Lord had him dismiss those who were fearful of fighting, the remaining men drank. Those who drank with heads into the water were dismissed, while those who cupped the water into their hand before lapping it up were chosen. God used these 300 men to defeat a coalition army of Midianites and their allies.(See Judges 6-7).
We visited one of two possible locations along the slopes of Gilboa that could have been historic Ein Harod (i.e., the spring of Harod).
Yoel recounting the events of Gideon at the spring.
Random cat to pet.
Barry makes the cut to stand with the 300.
Next stop was Beit She’an, an ancient city with a long history through many cultures. Extensive ruins, some from Jesus’ time, but most from the following centuries and the Christian era of Rome.
The reconstruction shows the likely extent of the city in the centuries after Jesus. The ruins that have been excavated are of the center area of the city in the picture (just right of center) and upon the hill (center of the right hand side of the picture) of historic Beit She’an where ruins from several time periods are found. While the city wasn’t this large yet in Jesus’ time, it was one of the major cities of the Decapolis (Ten Towns), known at that time as Scythopolis, on the east side of the Sea of Galilee in which he traveled, taught, and healed. Even though it wasn’t the center of his ministry, he likely traveled through this Roman city.
Among the ruins were a public bathhouse.
Portions of the mosaic floor can still be seen.
The remains of a steam room. The floor that rests on the columns is missing, but heated air would be pulled through the subfloor chamber seen here (and up through the walls) to keep this room warm.
One way of transporting the huge blocks of stone used in these Roman cities was on wheels pulled by oxen.
The exterior of one of two theatres in the Byzantine era city (which also had two hippodromes).
Interior views of the theatre.
And a public latrine with a wall’s worth of toilets along the right hand side providing absolutely no privacy.
Half the group went to climb Beit She’an.
The view from half way up.
Margi taking Pam’s picture next to the lone tree (used in Jesus Christ Superstar, I’m told).
Many different ruins have been found atop the hill. The foundations of a Roman era temple (as seen in the map image above), an Egyptian building, several Canaanite temples, a Davidic era stronghold, and the remains of a fortified town from Abraham’s day, 4000 years ago!
The Abrahamic era remains.
The foundations of the Davidic era stronghold on one of the highest points of the hilltop.
Unfortunately, according to the sign, it didn’t last all that long.
You may need to click on the picture and look close, but in the distance you can see the Kingdom of Jordan (historic Moab) across the Jordan River from Jericho. This area is where the Children of Israel would have camped just before crossing into the Promised Land. The thin band of green across the center of the picture is the greenery growing alongside the Jordan. The land beyond up to the foot of the mountains would be the level area where they camped.
After leaving the Jordan River and a traditional location of where John Baptized Jesus (pictures from that in another post), we entered the Judean wilderness where John lived and taught and where Jesus was tempted for 40 days. See the picture below minus the paved highway and you’ll get an idea of what that looked like.
More of the same, but if you look closely, this time with some caves in the hills.
And these days, you find random camps of Bedouins living on the slopes of the wilderness.
From the wilderness up to Jerusalem, where we were greeted as we exited the bus at an overlook…
…by a cat. (One of several).
A view of the city today. Just left of center you can see the golden topped Dome of the Rock sitting upon the Temple Mount.
And turning a bit to one’s left brings in a view of The Mount of Olives. The two different towers are churches commemorating the Ascension.