We hiked Azekah today. It was our last hike in the woods and nature. Reading from the Text, we had a few more faith lessons about following the rabbi, and making disciples. You cannot lead well unless you learn to follow well.
When you follow the rabbi at his heels, he may give you a command. “Help the person behind you.” Will you? Will you stay there and help everyone else in line, also? The most coveted spot is right at his heels. According to what we learned in the culture, you don’t easily give up that spot. Wait. What was the rabbi’s imperative? “Help the person behind you.” What did YOU hear him say? Did you ‘shema’ him?
From here, we can see the Elah Valley. What great battle happened there?
Do you see the two hills covered in green just beyond the patch of green trees right in front of you? If you look closely, there’s a valley that lies between the two. You can just see a thin line of brown wheat fields. In this valley, there is a brook. Along the left margin of the far hill~ a ‘tel’ (a historic city-hill site) marks ancient Socoh. Now- may I encourage you to read the story of David and Goliath again?
Traveling the hills of Judea, we visited Efrat. To see these fruitful fields, is to see Biblical prophecy fulfilled.
Overlooking the hills of Judea from the top of a high hill, we could almost see Abram when he was on a high hill while God showed him the land that was promised to him. We also visited a school here in Efrat. In Hebrew, it is called a ‘Yeshiva’. Only boys attend the school. In this culture, boys and girls study separately. The school was entirely dedicated to study of the Hebrew Bible. We call it the Old Testament, but when we see its prophecies are still being fulfilled today, we realize it’s not ‘old’. The religious young men of this culture will often study with their partner for a minimum of 2 years, and then join the Israeli Defense Force for 2-3 years after that.
We walked along the Path of the Patriarchs. Roman milestones tell us it was a well-traveled road in ancient times.
And there was a ‘mikvah’ along the way. You would go in one side, cleanse yourself, and come out the other side ritually clean. Was it used for families who traveled from the north to Jerusalem for holidays such as Passover? The city was usually pretty crowded during the holiday, and everyone needed to be ritually pure before entering the Temple, so you had to find a ‘mikvah’ somewhere.
Peter Abelow was our tour guide for the afternoon and evening. We went to synagogue worship with him, his wife Debbie and family. Afterwards, they hosted us for a most amazing Shabbat dinner. What a blessing!! For many of us, this turned out to be the highlight of the trip! Thank you, Peter and Debbie! We love you lots!