Israel Trip – Day 5 (Galilee, Jordan Valley, Jerusalem)

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We began Day 5 (Friday, June 14, three weeks ago today) boarding our bus with all our luggage for a day of sightseeing and a move to Jerusalem.

Yardenit

Our first stop, a very short one, was at Yardenit, a baptismal site on the Jordan River. No one from our group had requested to be baptized so, after a few photos, we carried on.

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Yardenit baptismal site on the Jordan River. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Posing by the Jordan River in Yardenite. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Nazareth

Our first major stop of the day was Nazareth. Here we went first to the land form just outside the city. The story of Jesus rejected by the religious leaders of the Nazareth synagogue, then taken outside the city where they threatened to push him off the cliff to His death came to life for me (Luke 4:16-30). This is where that would have happened.

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View from the cliff cliff from which the Nazareth townspeople wanted to push Jesus to His death. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Then we drove into town where we toured the Nazareth Village, a sprawled-out village with buildings, animals, and people in costume, similar to what Jesus would have experienced.

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Phyllis and Theo (our children’s ministry puppets) got a moment of attention from two of the locals. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A vineyard watchtower. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The sheep-pen. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Phyllis and Theo, eager to see the sheep. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A donkey, grabbing some lunch. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The olive press. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Woven basket, used to help strain the olive oil. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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A Nazareth Village vendor (food truck?). (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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They ate vegetables similar to ours, along with herbs like Hyssop. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The woodworking shop; he might also have been a stone mason, as most of the houses were constructed of wood and stone. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Oven, for baking bread. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The dining room. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The spinner and weaver. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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The synagogue. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Beit Shean

Next we drove to Beit Shean. It is the city where the body of King Saul and his sons were nailed to the wall by the Philistines (1 Samuel 31:10).

Our itinerary informed us that curently Beit Shean is “…the largest ongoing archeological dig in the land of Israel.” The dig has unearthed a Roman theatre, colonnaded Roman streets, mosaics, Roman bathhouses, and even a public latrine.

Judean Wilderness

Finally, we made our ascent to Jerusalem through the Judean wilderness.

A Bedouin encampment and settlements along the West Bank. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

Jerusalem!

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The first sight of Jerusalem was a thrill. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

We visited the Western Wall late Friday afternoon, just hours before the start of Shabbat (during which we would not have been allowed to take photos). I was especially fascinated by the many Orthodox Jews, men dressed in black suits wearing black hats, yarmulkes, even black fur hats, little boys with yarmulkes and side curls, little girls in their pretty dresses, women all dressed up with turban-type hats pushing babies in strollers, as families made their Friday night visits of the wall together, along with us informally dressed tourists.

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Prayer at the wall is segregated. In the women’s section I witnessed women in fervent petition, many reading from prayer books in Hebrew (and the odd one in English). These were sitting for anyone to use on podium-type tables and on a bookshelf at the back of the prayer area.

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Women sat and prayed, or went up to the wall, to touch it as they prayed fervently, often in tears. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Many tucked folded prayers into the cracks of the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Prayer books were available for anyone to use. Most were in Hebrew.  (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Poster on the wall enclosure, opposite the wall. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

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Western Wall poster. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

 

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Another poster from the wall enclosure area. (Photo © 2019 by V. Nesdoly)

It was a moving, and slightly unsettling experience as I thought about the prayer fervency I was witnessing and asked myself—what did this fascination with praying at the Western Wall really signify?