Galilee Two, Stein, Zwei, Dos

Early morning beside the Galilee

I started my morning with a bit of time beside the sea with my Bible. It was so peaceful and quiet and wonderful to be refreshed in the Word before heading off for another busy day. We were off for Hazor, first thing! I loved the drive up North. Its great to be able to put images to all the topography that we’ve been learning. Now if I can only remember it!

So what happened at Hazor? It was the largest of all Canaanite cities in its day. (Which don’t ask me when that day was cause I can’t remember.) At 200 acres it was right up there with Ninevah, the Assyrian capital. We took a look at Joshua 11 and how he defeated the northern kings and captured Hazor. If you check out the locations that Jabin king of Hazor had summoned for protection from Joshua in the beginning of the chapter, you can see that he had every entrance blocked to an attack on his city. But then all the kings ganged up together up north in the hills to try and fight off the enemy, whereas if they had stayed home and defended their passes it would have been much harder to enter. This way, Joshua came up and surprised them, killed their armies and kings and destroyed all of Hazor, burning the city itself.

Consider yourself warned.

Solomon fortified this city during his reign. Archeologists also found a large temple/palace complex at the east end of the city. There was basaltic paneling on the inside to cover the rough cut stone walls, large pillar bases were found at the entrance and a huge altar out in front. It was all oriented toward the east which indicates that it would have been a temple but there are differing opinions whether it was that or a palace. Ahab reigned here as well and built a huge underground water system to supply the town with water in siege times. He dug a deep vertical shaft through earlier occupation layers and at the bottom of that a sloping tunnel that reached water around 40 meters below ground.

You can still see the ancient stairs along the sides going down to the water supply…
…and here's the modern stairs. Sadly I didn't have time to run to the bottom 😦
Just check out this incredible flat land and cotton fields at that! Just a bit south of here is an area with such fertile land that they harvest an unbelievable 18 cuttings of alfalfa per year!

We moved on north to Dan at the foot of Mt. Hermon, where one the headwaters of the Jordon flow out. There is the Canaanite town that has the oldest (or maybe second oldest) arched gate in the world. And then there’s also the Israelite city. In Joshua 19 the children of Dan went up and captured the city of Laish and called it Dan after their father. We sat in the gate and talked about justice in their day. The king had his throne here along with seats for the city council or elders. People would come and bring their case to have judgement made. Since it was the gate to the city, people would be coming and going all the time so it would have been very public as well as open to God or the gods of their day. One of our modern rules for a jury is that they don’t know the person being judged, but here the council was from their own town. In this eastern mindset of communal living it makes so much sense because these were people that knew them and their families. They know what their reputation was like and what was best for the overall good of their community.

The headwaters of the Jordan!
Ancient arched gate at Dan possibly the oldest in the world.
The gate leading to the Israelite city of Dan. Notice the seats of justice around the inside right.
And there on the far hill is Lebanon…

On our way to Caesarea Phillipi we were basically driving right on the border of Israel/Lebanon. Just look to the left of the road and there’s a fence/wall and, yes, there is Lebanon. Pretty crazy stuff.

We were just east of Dan at another of the headwaters of the Jordan. There is a large cave in the sheer cliff bedrock where the water used to flow out of. The people worshiped the fertility god Pan as the maker of this wonderful resource and called the cave the “Gates of Hades.” They built a large temple to Pan and another to Zeus, all marks of strong paganism. Since Pan was half goat and half man they also had an area for sacred goats that were taught to dance as a symbol of fertility. Herod Phillip ruled in this area and actually made this town the capital of his kingdom. And it was to this region that Jesus brought his disciples and asked them in light of all this pagan living, “Who do you say I am?” Peter responded, “You are the Messiah, the son of the Living God.” But I love how Jesus answered in verse 18, that “Peter, you are a stone and on this bedrock I will build my church and the gates of hades (death) will not hold them in bondage anymore.”

…and on this bedrock I will build my church
The mouth of the Jordan, what the ancient people referred to as "The Gates of Hell."
The niche just beside the cave for the god Pan and his little nymphs

We ended our day on a {now silent} volcano, Bental, looking out over the valley and talking about the international road to Damascus that ran through here and the many stories connected to that route.

On the volcano looking right into Syria around where the far body of water is. Yup, we were that close 🙂
A great perk to ending our day on a volcano was that this one had a lovely coffee shop on top. After the brisk wind and chilly breeze outside a hot drink in my hand makes me feel like autumn has truly arrived.

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