Day 1: Gezer, Beit Shemesh, Azekah, Tel Maresha, and Mizpe Ramon

9:30 AM

Traveling east, we are driving away from the coastal area of Tel Aviv into a greener part of the country known as the Shephelah. Here we will stop at a tel called Gezer. A tel is a geographical site once occupied (by humans, of course) but now abandoned. Once upon a time, Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, and this city was given to him by Pharaoh as a dowry.

Tel Gezer


Also, we will visit some standing stones that were likely raised by Canaanites to commemorate a special event in their history or as symbols of worship.

standing stones near Tel Gezer
map study

10:34 PM
Next stop is Beit Shemesh, where the ark of God was returned to the Israelites after it was taken by the Philistines. Try to imagine what it would have been like to see the ark come into view pulled by two cows!

Beit Shemesh

3:00 PM
Lunch is over. Verna supplied us with a hearty lunch just after we came back from a major hike up Mt. Azekah. Talk about a climb! At the top was a beautiful view of the Elah Valley, where David killed Goliath of Gath. To kill the giant, David used a tactic he was familiar with; using his sling. In fact, he practiced with it every day. Our leader, Vernon, encouraged us to be aware of and use our God-given gifts, as David did, to allow God to work through us.

climbing Mt. Azekah
overlooking the valley of Elah
faith lessons on Mt. Azekah

3:34 PM
We just got back from Tel Maresha, where was a gethsemane. Gethsemane as we know it is not one place, but several places throughout Israel. This is because the Hebrew word “gethsemane” means olive press. Now we drive due south into the heart of the Negev Desert.

an olive press near Tel Maresha

Our next destination, Mizpe Ramon, is where we will stay the night. Machtesh Ramon is the largest of three craters in Israel. Evenings there can be a bit chilly, even though it is in the Negev Desert. The wind is wild and will do amazing things to a person’s hair. Many of us plan to get up early enough to watch the sun rise over the crater.

sunset behind Mizpe Ramon
Machtesh Ramon
faith lesson by the crater

Until next time,

Kyla Hostetler for Talmidim Studies

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