Day 1 (May,9, 2009)
Other mosaic masterpieces found in the church of the Virgin and the Apostles and the Archaeological Museum, depict a rampant profusion of flowers and plants, birds and fish, animals and exotic beasts, as well as scenes from mythology and everyday pursuits of hunting, fishing and farming. Literally, hundreds of other mosaics from the 5th through the 7th centuries are scattered throughout Madaba's churches and homes.The information center at Madaba in the traditional architecture is worth mentioning.
The Bible Story
As we walked to mount Nebo, our local guide showed us a place at a distance which is believed to be the sight where Moses was asked to hit on a rock to get water., now known as the Spring of Moses (Numbers 19). As we read in the Bible it is lack of faith showed by Moses a this instance made God curse him.
The Bible Story
The people of Israel have been wandering for 40 years in the desert and they're thirsty. So God tells Moses to speak to the rock and water will come forth (Numbers 20:8). The instruction to "speak" to the rock is in contrast to 40 years earlier, when Moses followed God's instruction to HIT the rock -- and water gushed out (Exodus 17:6). This time, Moses is to speak. Yet he again hits the rock. Nothing happens, so Moses hits the rock a second time, and water comes out.God's response: "Since you HIT the rock rather than speaking to it, you will not lead the people of Israel into the promised land" (Numbers 20:11-12).
The mount Nebo monuments and many of the other Holy Land monuments are under the custody of Franciscan fathers (Link).
As we travelled through the desert like terrains, we were pointed to Mount Tabor at a distance. Since our bus could not go up the small mountain road, we did not visit the church built over the site (Church of the Transfiguration or Church of the Savior managed by Franciscan fathers - link1, link 2) where the Bible says Jesus got transformed.
Our last destination of the day was Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle. (Link)The Shrine of our lady's First Miracle(Wedding church) in the village of Cana preserves earthen jars of believed to be of Christ's period. The house where Jesus is believed to have performed the miracle of turning water into wine is preserved in the basement of the church.
The church provides a rare opportunity for couples to renew their wedding vows. Being a lone traveller, I could do it only in my mind. Instead I performed the role of the photographer for Thampy maash and Rosy, thus catching up their wedding which I missed. Fr. Sleeba lead the ceremony. After the renewing of the wow, you can have certificate for the same at the payment of a fee. After the visit to the church we stopped at a shop opposite to the church to shop for some bottles of the famous Cana wine.
A word should be mentioned here of the courtesy with which drivers here welcomed the tourists. throughout the journey, except in Egypt, the drivers were so patient not to bang their horn to allow the last pedestrian crossed the road, even when we crossed in group of 50.
Our day two in the Holy land ended with our stay in Rimonim Inn, Nazareth. We can not forget the buffet dinner in the basement restaurant of the hotel where a fabulous dinner was served with people from different nations sharing the same food.
One thing I forgot to mention was we were all given red coloured cap to protect from sun and also for easy identification of the group. Whenever we entered a church our guide announced that all men should take off the hat. He said it is an old Jewish tradition that men should not wear cap inside the church. However it was intersting to note that he did not instruct women to cover their head as we do here in Kerala.
We spent time in the church and walked back to the bus. On the pavement of the narrow street that goes down hill, we saw an old man on wheel chair playing a musical instrument. It seemed he was playing music to collect some money. Passing a small market place we boarded our bus and set off to Galilee.
Day 3 (4) The Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes or The Church of the Multiplication, Tabgha
1. In ancient times, Tabgha was known as Heptapegon - "Place of the Seven Springs." These seven springs produce warm water, which increases the production of algae in this part of the lake, and the algae attracts more fish. Fisherman have flocked to Heptapegon for thousands of years.
2. Christian historians have surmised that Jesus came here when he looked for solitude ,especially since it was close to the Galilee city of Kfar Nahum (Capernaum).
Near to the ruins we saw a modern church built over the House of Peter. The house of Peter, also known as Simon Bar-Yonah, fisherman, was located close to the shores of the lake. of Galilee by the archaeological excavations. A church was built over his house in his honor by the early Christian worshipers in the 5th century. This church has the shape of an Octagon, which was typical of early churches. A new church was built over this church in 1990. From out side and through the glass window on the floor of the new church we could see the house of St Peter, and around it the old Octagon Church.
Since we had some time left for the next programme (boat ride), we rested for a while in the yard of the church. Near to old Synagogue in the court yard there is a display of fragments of the synagogue. Also in display are industrial stone tools that were used at ancient times for farming, such as several oil presses, as seen below. we spent time with prayers and songs. It was really pleasant to spend some time to sit on the shore of Galilee lake expereiencing the cool breeze.
As we walked out two sculptures caught our attention. One was that of St. Peter with the keys of heaven and the other that of Peter's fish.
As we travlled by bus we could also see the Church of the Primacy of Peter, at Tabgha. The church is a modest Franciscan chapel that incorporates part of a 4th-century church. It is located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee and commemorates the site where Jesus appeared to his disciples after the resurrection and conferred Church authority upon Peter.
The Sea of Galilee
The Sea of Galilee is located in the east side of the Galilee, in the north of Israel. It is a large sweet water lake (168 square KM), has 55KM of shore line, 21KM long X 12KM wide (at its widest section at the Arbel cliffs), and has a kind of the shape of a pear or a violin. The lake is shallow - the maximum depth is 44M.
The entire lake is located within a great depression, about 210M below the (Mediterranean) sea level. It is the lowest sweet water lake in the world. The hills around the lake are even higher: 400-500M above the lake's level. This depression is part of the Syrian-African fault line, which includes the Dead Sea.
The water is also pumped out and supplied to the south of Israel by the the ambitious project called "Movil Haartsi", or the national water canal. This project has a number of facilities in the Sea of Galilee - a huge water pump in the north-west side of the lake near Tabcha, and bypass canals that divert the "salty" water (hot springs) around the lake, in order to keep the lake clean. Some of the water is also supplied to the Kingdom of Jordan, as part of the peace treaty with this neighboring Country. (http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/SeaofGalilee.html)
The Jordan River looked very small, almost like small rivers of Kerala. The site of Baptism is vibrant with activities. Groups of people were seen either getting baptised or renewing their baptism vows. The pastors were seen saying some prayers and sprinkling water on the person to be baptised. Some others were wearing white gowns and were dipped in the water for baptism. Our group howevevr did not go for baptism. There are rails fixed in the river for pilgrims to get into the river safely. As warned by our guide, the water at that point in the river did not look good with a lot of suspended particles. Later I came to know that the river was not so clean at that point because the site is located at the southern exit of the Sea of Galilee, just behind the gate of the Dam that is used on rainy winters to lower the level of the lake.
The Jordan River is a major water source that flows through the Jordan Rift Valley into the Dead Sea. It flows in and out of Sea of Galilee. The Jordan only reaches 20 yards across in some places, and its deepest point is around 17 feet. It extends from tributaries at the base of Mount Hermon to its main source, the Kinneret, and then down to the Dead Sea. The river forms the boundary between the country of Jordan and the West Bank. The Jordan River is a key water source for Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon;
Charulatha Passes SSLC in flying colours - Greetings from Jaffa
We also were fortunate to locate in the The Jaffa museum which is located under the paved street on the top of the hill, in Kedumim Square. In the museum you can see the walls of Hellenistic and Roman Jaffa, as excavated at this site. Among the ruins are life-sized figures that demonstrate the life in the old times. There is also an audio-visual show, and an exhibition of some archaeological findings. None of the other members of the group could see the museum since they had already rushed to the bus. when we reached the bus, we could understand that the spare time we got was out of some misunderstanding. But when we shared the news of exam result all of them were happy and wanted a treat which we did the next day in Bethlehem.
Without spending much time at Jaffa, we travelled further to enter Bethlehem. Of all the destinations in the Holy Land, it is Bethlehem that I always loved and wanted to visit. It was night when we entered Bethlem. We stayed there overnight.
Today Bethlehem is a Palestinian city in the central west bank, 10 kms south of Jerusalem with a population of thirty thousand. The word Bethlehem means 'house of meat' or 'house of bread'.
We visited The Terra Santa shepherd field. There we could see the caves in which the shepherds lived. The low natural cave or rock shelter in pleasant surroundings and with a fine view of the hills really take one back to the Silent Night. The cave, with soot-blackened roof, has been partly enclosed to make a modern chapel. Above is a modern church (1954) shaped like a tent and decorated with a bronze angel and a star on the top. The paintings in side the church commemorating nativity are marvelous. We could also see ruins of a rectangular monastery founded on a site occupied by nomadic shepherds in the 1st century.
From Bethlehem we proceeded to Jerusalem. First we visited the Mount Olives.
Before we proceed to the holy sites there, the next two posts gives a detailed description of Jerusalem and Mount Olives.
Given below is a brief history of the holy Land and the City of Jerusalem
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Religious pilgrims from all nations continue to congregate in the Holy City and millions of people flow through the gates of Jerusalem each year.
References to the city of Jerusalem appear throughout the entire Scriptures.The Scriptural history of Jerusalem (known then as "Salem"), begins when Abraham meets "Melchizedek" (King of Justice) about 2000 BC. Through the ages it has been called by many names: Urusalim, Salem, Mount Moriah, Adonai Urah, Jebus, Jerusalem, Zion, the City of David, Ariel (Lion of God)...
God has declared that this is the place He will establish His Name and
will dwell there forever.
David conquered Jerusalem by defeating the Jebusites in 1052 BCE
(Chronicles 1 11:4-9), nearly 3000 years ago.
In history, No other city has been beloved and fought over as Jerusalem.
After David's death, Solomon (in 1015 BC/BCE) began to "build a house for the Name of the Lord" (Chronicles 2 2:1). It took seven years and 183,300 men to build it (Kings 1- 5:13-16; 6:38). It measured nearly 90 feet in length, 30 feet in width and 45 feet in height (1 Kings 6:2). The Holy Of Holies occupied one-third of the interior space, and the Holy Place, two-thirds. The complete details are described in Kings 1 - 6 & 7. When it was completed, the Glory of God filled
The Temple (View the model of Ancient Jerusalem) (Chronicles 2 7:1).Israel was divided after Solomon's death (979 BCE).
The kingdom of Israel was in the north, while Judah was in the south.
Jerusalem was the capital of Judah (the Southern Kingdom). It was ruled by a succession of twenty kings from 979 BCE to 586 BCE. Their reigns lasted from as short as three months (Jehoahaz and Jehoiachim) to as long as fifty-five years (Manasseh). The disheartening history of the declines of Judah is told in Kings 1 12:1-2, Kings 25:30, and 2 Chronicles 10:1-36:21.Jerusalem was entirely destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC/BCE.
The city and the Holy Temple were completely demolished and the articles of the Temple and its treasures were carried off to Babylon.
The inhabitants that were not killed were also taken to Babylon. Jerusalem was to lie desolate for seventy years in order that the land might enjoy its Sabbaths (Chronicles 2 36:17-21/Leviticus 26:34).
Seventy-one years later (445 BCE) In 539 BCE, Cyrus, king of Persia issued a proclamation to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, a total of 42,360 people returned to Jerusalem and Judah to help rebuild the Temple, (not including male and female servants and the musicians), All gave according to their ability, in order to finance the work.
In the first year, Jeshua and Zerubbabel led a group to build the altar in order to offer sacrifices in accordance with Torah.
It was finally completed in 516 BCE and took twenty-three years.
In 167 BCE the Greeks converted the Temple in Jerusalem into a show place to Greek idols
In 40 BCE the Romans being the super power of that time dispatched an army of 30,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry to take Jerusalem.
Jerusalem and its Temple were incinerated.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, the basilica of the Holy Sepulchre was built in Jerusalem, the most important and prominent building in the city at the time.
During the Byzantine era (330-640 CE) many impressive Christian architectural monuments were built in the city. Jerusalem was a major Christian center, attracting pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire. Monks and clergy from the various sects started to settle in the city, and pilgrims from different countries filled Jerusalem's streets: Ethiopians and Armenians, Copts and Nestorians, Syrian Jacobites and Gregorians and, above all, Greek-Orthodox, who became the dominant Christian group in the city.
At the end of the 11th century, Seljuk tribes invaded the country. The city passed from one ruler to another until the arrival of the Crusaders who ruled about two hundred years (1095-1187) CE and again after a brief period, from (1189-1348).
Christian Crusaders order in Jerusalem was extremely brutal, especially at the beginning of the period, and the domination of the city was accompanied by a massacre of most of the Jews and Moslems residing there.
Jerusalem has been fought over by armies of the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, Byzantines,Persians, Arabs, Seljuks, Crusaders, Mongols, Mamelukes, Turks, British, Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Iraqis. Today the nations of the entire world consider it their responsibility and obligation to intervene in her politics and destiny.
This is a city that has been besieged about forty different times and destroyed (at least partially) on thirty-two different occasions. The rulership of Jerusalem has changed hands some twenty-six times. From the time of the establishment of the State of Israel in May of 1948 until 1967, the city was divided. Walls, barbed-wire fences and a desolated strip of non-man's land cut through the very heart of the city, especially excluding the Jews from the Old City and the Temple Mount. During that time the Jewish Quarter was leveled and its synagogues burned. Jewish graves and monuments were desecrated or turned into latrines, Since 1948 Jerusalem has experienced four wars. Jerusalem, "The City of Peace" has known wars and destruction since it existence was first known to us from the Biblical record.
Today, Jerusalem is more of a city of religion, art, culture, and museums than an economically viable regional marketplace or a center of business activity. Yet Jerusalem thrives in our time as a city full of mystical attractiveness and endless fascination.
Jerusalem has played, and will continue to play, an important part in God' deliverance of the earth, His Holy City, and our involvement in it.By Lena Mor - www.HolyLandNetwork.com (http://www.holylandnetwork.com/pages/Jerusalem_History.html )
Jesus had many encounters on Mount of olives, and the area has many Churches that glorify his acts in this part of Jerusalem : Pater Noster church, the place where according to tradition Jesus taught his disciples the Lords prayer; the tear-shaped church of Dominus Flevit ("the Lord wept") where Jesus wept over the future destruction of the city; Gethsemane (Gat Shemanim) where Jesus was betrayed and arrested.
The Church of the Holy Ascension was taken by Saladin in 1187 and converted into a mosque and remains such today. However pilgrims are allowed to celebrate ascension on Easter day, who cover the yard with tents during the ascension celebrations.
"How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees ! You hypocrites ! You are like water washed tombs, which look fine on the outside but are full bones and decaying corpses on the inside; Matthew 23: 27-32 " Photo shows view of symmetries adjacent to the Hosanna walkway in the Valley of Josephat.
The Valley of Josaphat is a familiar place in the Bible.
1. From Go Israel
"How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people's bones and every kind of impurity. (Matthew 23:27)