Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Rock

On the last day of our 3 day trip we were extremely busy. We started at Masada. This was one of the things I was looking forward to the most. Herod built this fortress out of fear that Anthony would give the territory to Cleopatra and he would need a place to hole up. This fortress was built on 24 acres on top of an isolated rock along the Dead Sea. The drop to the East was around 1500 ft, but the drop on the West was much less. Later the Zealots took this fortress as a refuge against the Romans who had just destroyed the Temple. The Romans laid siege to this unsuccessfully. They then spent 3 years building a siege ramp to push the wall down and attack. The remnants of the siege ramp are still there. Anyway, this place was another amazing achievement by one neurotic and disturbed person. Here are just a few pictures. The first is a picture of the North Palace's 3 levels. The second was only part of the hike one side and you can also see part of the siege ramp that the Roman's built.

Next we had lunch at the Dead Sea near En Gedi. It was extremely hot and I was not feeling well this day so I did not get all the way in the water. The water is not refreshing. It is hot and full of things that I do not want to know about. The mineral content of the water is around 35% while the Ocean is around 7%. Incidentally, this is the lowest place on Earth.

After lunch, I was struggling but En Gedi called and I really wanted to do this. I was rewarded with a beautiful and inspiring hike. Additionally, I got to swim in one of the pools and was refreshed to my bones. I know why David hid hear. It was a lush green garden in the midst of a vast wasteland. Here I got some energy back.

Our last stop was Qumran. We were not able to explore the caves at all, but only the communal site of the Jewish Monks. This was a little disappointing and I will not include a picture of this. However, at this place the most important archaeological find of all time occurred since Joshia recovered the Book of the Law.

I am preparing for a 4 day trip to the Galilee region after having had 2 days off. Unfortunately, my days off have consisted of resting and trying to get better. I am feeling much better today and I am ready for the trip north. I will check back with you in a few days.

Blessings - DC

Going to the Super Bowl

We stayed overnight at Mitzpe Ramon in a youth hostel (it was actually fairly nice). It is situated on the edge of the Super Bowl - which is a geological feature that has carved a huge depression in the ground. I had a chance to do my quiet time on an edge of a cliff overlooking this huge depression. The variety of beauty that God has placed on this Earth is amazing. Below is one picture and it does not do the area justice. Additionally, it had been blazing hot everywhere we went, but at Mitzpe Ramon the weather relented and brought us all refreshment.

We later went to Avdat (an important Nabotean City). This town was eventually converted to Christianity and had to Churches. I find this interesting that a town in this time period had two Churches and they were within 150 ft of each other. Then we spent time at a Wadi near Avdat. This was a beautiful area that had a challenging hike up the side of the Wadi wall. This was an amazing hike and I was feeling good, so I went. Here is a picture of the Wadi.

We went from there to Beersheba. They found an altar their that looked half pagan and half Jewish in design. The excavator of the site was Amaroni and he was never every to firmly establish the location of the temple area. Typically temple areas where built on top of old cultic sites, so he was intrigued as to why he was not finding this. They did find a room that had no floor going down very deep. His conclusion is that Hezekiah uprooted the temple so completely that he dug up every temple going as far back as they could dig. Here is a picture of the reconstructed altar found there with a living sacrifice on top.

The last place we stopped was Arad, where we explored the site where they found a temple that reflected Israelite worship and design. Inside of what would have been the Holy of Holies were two standing stones. Some scholars believe that one represented YHWH and the other Ashura. Other scholars think that these two stones were to represent the law given the absence of the Ark of the Covenant in their temple. Intriguing.

Blessings - DC

Friday, June 25, 2010

My Day as an Outcast

This day had a lot packed in. We were going to the Valley of Elah (David and Goliath), Lachish, Askelon (for some learning and swimming in the Mediterranean), and lastly onto Mizpah Ramon to spend the night.

As I noted earlier I had been struggling with "Herod's" Revenge and bus travel was somewhat treacherous for me. I was not able to do many of the sites. I had to stay by the bus and bathroom, and I had no energy to do anything. This was extremely difficult for me as I trained hard for this trip so that I would not miss anything. All morning and early afternoon I would try to keep up, but was ultimately not able and had to retreat to the bus or lay in the shade. I felt like a leper (OK that is hyperbolic, but it was difficult). The last place we stopped was at Ashkelon along the Mediterranean Sea where I once again had to lay in the shade. At Ashkelon I received His peace.

I did not get to explore this impressive ancient city. Instead I lay in shade and prayed. -

I prayed for my wife that she would continue to have the strength to endure with me gone. I thanked God for her and the strength she provides for me.

I prayed for my children that they would make the lives of each other and others richer as they have made my life richer. I thanked God for them and their endless energy and heart for Him.

I prayed for my parents and parents in law and thanked God for their loving support in our lives.

I prayed for my brothers and their families. I thanked God for the way they have loved me and accepted me. I prayed that my children would feel the same way about their brothers as I do about mine.

I prayed for the Watsons, Degoughs, and Dreyfus' as they wait on that phone call telling them to come get their children.

I prayed for the Boykins and the Davises as they enter into a dry and thirsty land.

I prayed for the myriad of people that I know are wanting to get pregnant. May God release this upon you.

I prayed for many others whose requests I know, but are too private to mention. I prayed that the Lord would provide what you need.

I needed this day. I needed this day badly. I am in a great place learning great things, but one of the true blessings of Christ is those that I get to live my life with. So on a day when I was missing some of the best educational teaching available, it was not a waste, because I prayed.

Lord may I never let the pursuit of knowledge of You get in the way of my life that is lived for You.

Below are two of the few pictures I got this day the first is from the Valley of Elah (I also got a smooth stone from the Valley) and the second is a picture of the Mediterranean Sea.

Be Blessed - DC

The Herodium to Bethlehem

On this day we went to the Herodium to observe this massive pleasure palace built by Herod the Great just a decade or two before the birth of Jesus. This area is south of Jerusalem and adjacent to Bethlehem. Herod built this by basically combining two different mounds to an unnatural height. The first picture below is from the top pointing down towards one of the luxury pools and Roman baths and another is a picture from a tower looking down into the complex. This place was a spectacle of human achievement. There was a even a theater with parade grounds down below. This structure was meant to impress the world. It was meant to be on display.

Next we went to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This Church is a Greek Orthodox and is built on top of the supposed birth place of Jesus. Jesus as you know was born in the humblest of circumstances and in the humblest of places. I do not know what I was expecting, but I was extremely disappointed and underwhelmed by what this church had done. As you will see below, it looks like a gaudy and never used fireplace. They have filled the area with symbols and icons. It is now a place of opulence instead of humility. I think you see where I am going. Are we a people of opulence or of humility? It seems to me that both the American Church and American Christian Culture reflect the Herodium instead of the Stable. This sad alteration of the supposed birth place of Christ must have seemed like a good idea at the time, for me it seemed to deface it and its intent.

The last thing is that I am also loading almost all the pictures I have taken onto Facebook. I have labeled them and you are free to email me and ask any questions. It is lengthy to upload pictures to this blog site. Friend me on Facebook if you want or you can go to

Blessings - DC

Monday, June 21, 2010

3 Day Trip

I will be gone on a three day trip to the Negev region and I will not have my computer. I will update when I get back. Please be praying for me as I am getting over a case of "Herod's" revenge as well.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Photos and Thoughts

We did a lot of driving on this day. We started in the luscious western part of the country and saw Beth Shemesh (birthplace of Samuel). This land was given to tribe of Dan, but they were ultimately not able to hold it and moved north above Galilee. Think Ceseria Phillipi area. Next we went to Gezer the "front door" to the hill country. And drove east and had lunch and Nebi Samwil (the supposed burial site of Samuel). This is one of the tallest locations in all of the hill country. With great views of modern and ancient Jerusalem and Ramallah. This was and has been a strategic hill through out the history of the land. On clear days they say you can see from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. Impressive. This day it was not clear.

Next we traveled thorough the Benjamin Wilderness to Jericho. It was hot. 110 Degrees in the shade. The site at Jericho had been picked clean, but it is a place where many springs feed a otherwise desolate area. The next part of my day was my favorite. We stopped in the Judean Wilderness close to the old road that lead from Jericho to Jerusalem. This is the road Jesus walked several times and the road where the parable of the good Samaritan is set.

As some of you may know Anna and I have been going through something of a wilderness time for the last several months. I will spare all the details. We do not feel abandoned, only that God is stripping away the unnecessary parts of our life. Seeing the wilderness is what I was looking forward to the most. My Dad took this picture of me, and it struck me through the heart as I feel this picture captures aspects of my life. Only when you look close you see the oases along the bottom of the Kelt Wadi. These areas of green sustained people and flocks in this wilderness. My oases is my wife and kids. I am in the wilderness, but it is not joyless because of my family. God has used them to sustain me and we will be His people as we cross over the Mt of Olives and into the land that God has prepared for us. Only we will not be faithless and we will not back down and we will not give in.

My last thought from this day is the vast difference between the east side of Jerusalem and the west. Within 10 miles the land changes significantly. This last picture is from the Rephaim Canyon where we started our day. This picture below tells it all.

Be Blessed - DC

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some Pictures from Day Two

The Dome of the Rock - This is a shrine on the Temple Mount that some believe covers directly over the place where the Holy of Holies was in the Temple and that this was also the place where Abraham bound Isaac.

For some reason this was very interesting to me. I am standing on what archeologists believe are the stones turned over from the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70 AD. This were found when they dug towards the southern part of the Western Wall.

Below is a picture of me and my Dad at the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). There were Bar Mitzvahs going on during our whole time there. This was a unique experience.

Some Video from NT Jerusalem Walk

I am going to upload 3 videos. The first is video from the Temple Mount where the Dome of the Rock is located. The Temple Courtyard area is 37 acres.

The second video is from the West Wall also called the Wailing Wall. You will see a Bar Mitzvah processional, a tourist taking pictures and people praying against the wall. This was amazing. Men have unlimited access to this area given that their heads are covered.

The third is a Bar Mitzvah processional that starts a little further out. The singing and dancing is fun to watch and they blow shofars along the way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hezekiah and the Dead

It is difficult to not be impressed with Hezekiah’s tunnel. Modern people, me included, tend to think that we have advanced way beyond the ancients in knowledge and skill. Things like this tunnel prove otherwise. When you consider the tools and technology available to them at that time, this feat was amazing. The necessity of the tunnel for defensive purposes demanded a solution. While Hezekiah was a Godly king, he still saw the need to sure up this weakness. This monumental task was so important that the difficulty did not stop the workers. When the need is great so is the solution many times.

Also, the presence of the cemeteries is hard to ignore. In the US cemeteries are often put to the side, but here the memorials to the dead are a constant presence no matter where you go. I have never paid much attention to the burial practices of societies, but Jerusalem forces you to consider this. What does it say about a society that it memorializes its dead in this way? (And not just the kings and queens) Consider that in Egypt there is little doubt as the occupant of a tomb, but in Israel there is almost no certainty, even for the greatest leaders in the county’s history. Interesting.


Some Pictures from Day One

This is the Kidron Valley, south of Jerusalem and separates the Mt of Olives from the Temple Mount. This valley provided quite a defensible position for Jerusalem as it is a deep drop.

This is a picture of pomegranate. I saw this is and could not help but think of the Song of Solomon. Make your own comparisons.

This is a picture of the Mount of Olives. All around the base is a large cemetery, then along the bottom is tombs. From the top of this mount on a clear day you can see the Dead Sea in the East. It over looks the Temple Mount.

This is Hezekiah's tunnel. This was a narrow part. I had to turn to walk through. There were other parts where I had to stoop to chest level. The water was as high as thigh level, but was mostly around calf level. This tunnel saved the Israelites from Sennacherib as it provided a water source inside the city walls.


Some Quick Video

This is the video post. Just two videos. The first is the Tower of David - which was actually built by Herod, then restored and added onto later. This is from outside the Old City Wall and also shows a lot of the wall.

The second video is a main entry point into the Old City and my hotel is less than 50 yards from this gate. It is the Jaffa Gate as well as part of the wall. They ended up knocking down part of the wall to add an entry for larger vehicles to get through. This happened during the time of Turkish domination of the area. Just inside the gateway you see there was someone selling fresh cherries, then two steps further there was another person selling fresh bread. FYI - the food at our hotel has been great. I have enjoyed every meal so far.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Arrival

Sorry there are no pictures or video yet. Landing at Ben Gurion Airport is like any other landing. However, the anticipation of seeing the land that you have read about since you were a child adds extra emotion to the moment. No tears, just intense curiosity. I was surprisingly short on words. What could have been so special about this land? There is great land all over the world. Why here?

Tel Aviv is on a coastal plain as it is on the Mediterranean Sea. This area is flat and coastal - just what you would expect. However what came next surprised me a bit. We began our journey up to Jerusalem, by cab on a well made highway. The traffic reminded me of a mix of Parisian impatience and snow boarder anticipation of white powder. This drive was quite an ascent - even for someone who lived in Colorado. In fact, I was struck by how much this land - this land in high demand - reminded of the Colorado foothills and vegetation. The land is dry, but can sustain the right kinds of crops. And into the Shephelah there are a surprising number of trees and vegetation.

The final approach to Jerusalem was nothing short of awe inspiring. The ascent to “this city on a hill” is impressive. Once in the city the modern and the ancient blend as city restrictions force this sort of integration. We arrived on a festival night in Jerusalem and to “hike” the last half mile to our hotel through the crowds.

We arrived finally to great hospitality and a wonderful dinner of roasted lamb, rice, hummus, and pitas. I am glad I am not a vegetarian. Sleep came easy as I had a long day. However, I rose long before I expected. As I write this I have hopeful anticipation to begin understanding this city today. Also, I will get to hike through Hezekiah’s aqueduct today. This engineering feat saved Jerusalem from a deadly siege in the days of Hezekiah.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preparing for an Adventure

Hello Anyone who cares. In just 4 days I leave for a trip of a life time. I am going to Jerusalem for a 3 week class on the the geography of the Bible. It is bitter sweet for me as I am leaving my wife and sons behind, but I am getting to share this experience with my father. I will be updating my blog often with pictures and video. I hope you find this useful and interesting.

Sorry I have not updated this website in a while as I had an extremely draining semester. Septuagint Greek nearly ended me. I am glad that is over and I can now look towards this trip.

I will be staying at the Gloria Hotel for 3 weeks. It is by the Jaffa Gate just inside the Old City. The school I will be attending is called the Jerusalem University College (JUC) and overlooks the Valley of Gehenna. Below is a picture from one of the hotel rooms.

I had to complete a series of maps in preparation for this trip that tracked many of the events of the Old Testament. This exercise helped to unlock many of the OT stores.

As part of my class, I have to write reflections on my daily experiences. I will post these straight to this website. Please be praying for my family while I am away and for my safety.

Be Blessed - DC