Today (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) was Shabbat, so everything in Israel is pretty much shut down. Thus, we took the opportunity to make the two hour drive down to Galilee. “Down” has a different connotation in Israel because, though the Galilee area lies to the north of Jerusalem, one always goes “up” to Jerusalem, the city on a hill.
The Galilee is actually my favorite part of Israel. If I lived here, that is where I would want to be! It is the area where Jesus spent about 70% of His time. Therefore, I love going there…and I hate to leave!
Before we even left Jerusalem, headed east toward Jericho and the Dead Sea, we were in the West Bank. As you know, the West Bank is Palestinian-controlled, so now is a good time for some explanation. When it comes to the West Bank, the Oslo Accords stipulate that there be three “zones.” Palestinians are allowed to live anywhere in Israel, but are prevalent in the West Bank. Jews may live almost anywhere in Israel, but at their peril in some places. Zone C are those places in the West Bank in which Jews may live and there is Israeli police and/or military presence. Zone B are areas where Jews may live, but there is no policy/military presence. Zone A are areas where Jews are not welcomed and have no protection. Outside Ramallah, Jericho and other Zone A cities there are huge red signs warning Jews not to enter.
Probably the most common route between Jerusalem and the Galilee area is via highway 90 that travels along the Jordanian border and through the West Bank. (The entire route is Zone C, so Jews may freely travel that highway.) One sees many interesting, and sometimes ironic, things along that road. For example, though the area is a barren wilderness, Israeli ingenuity has caused the desert to bloom! The photo above is one of dozens of palm groves one might see while traveling this route. Israel exports agricultural technology all over the world. If you have a drip system in your yard, thank the Israelis…they invented it!
A rather ironic sight is that of the border fence separating Israel and Jordan, while looking across the border to find an abundance of Israeli innovation used in Jordan! In the photo above, the landscape is dotted with hot houses which protect the crops from insects, heat/cold, and disease, while keeping moisture in to nourish the plants. Often there are rows of crops with plastic-looking coverings that serve the same purpose, but that disintegrate at the appropriate time. All behind the simple, but high-tech border fence. Sensors on these fences tell Israeli security personnel if/when someone has crossed the fence. Then, on the Israeli side, there is a carefully graded road that will reveal any footprints. (Note to America: effective border fences don’t have to be expensive, just well-designed!)
By the way, take note: it is December and plants are still growing and being harvested in Israel! We saw lots of harvesters, and lots of green fields. Again, Israeli ingenuity has figured out how to produce crops year-round!
It is very nice touring Israel at this time, as there are no crowds! At the border when leaving the West Bank, Israeli border patrol boarded our bus to take a look around. In all my trips to Israel, this was a first! Honestly, I think they were bored!
As we approached the Galilee area, we saw snow on Mt Hermon! What a sight! It has been rather chilly at night, so Mt Hermon (Israel’s only ski area) has gotten an early jump on winter!
While in the Galilee, we saw Yardenit, the Jesus Boat, Tabgha (my favorite spot!), Capernaum, and Magdala.
I was especially struck by our trip to Capernaum today. It is such a fabulous place, as that was Jesus’ hometown. (Mark 2:1) Jesus performed so many miracles there, and the Gospels show us His compassion in such profound ways. However, today I was struck by something totally different.
The “common area” at Peter’s home.
We know that Jesus spent much time at Peter’s home (perhaps even lived there with Peter’s family when He was in the area). Peter’s home has been fully excavated, and it is configured with a living area that would have been shared customarily with adjacent living spaces for brothers, sisters, parents, and grandparents. It was common for generations to live together in various rooms surrounding the common area. When a son became of age, he built his own dwelling adjacent to the common area, he married, and he brought his bride to the his dwelling to live. There are many rooms adjacent to the octagonal living space at Peter’s home.
With that thought in mind, consider John 14:2-3:
In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
Genesis 1 teaches us that God created everything in 6 days. Yet, Jesus has spent the past 2000 years preparing our heavenly home! What must that dwelling place be like! I can hardly wait to find out…what about you?
As always, there is so much more I could share about the land of Israel! But let’s just end on that note!
Blessings to all! Shalom from Jerusalem!