Israel 2014 - Galilee; Day 5

The following descriptions in italics come from the webpage of Wayne Stiles, author of Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus. The photos are mine (Tim McKeown) from 2004.

COASTAL PLAIN/GALILEE – Start the day following the Mediterranean Sea we arrive at CAESAREA, the resort of Roman officials such as Pontius Pilate and prison of the Apostle Paul. 

Herod named the city, “Caesarea,” in honor of Caesar Augustus.
To further ingratiate the Roman ruler, Herod raised a temple for Augustus on the hill above the harbor. You can still see the ruins of the temple today. The site of the ancient harbor is today largely silted and covered with St. Augustine grass.
Herod’s Palace, Where Pilate Lived and Paul was Imprisoned
Herod chose to build his lavish palace in Caesarea on a natural promontory that juts out into the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The king had a freshwater swimming pool carved out of the natural bedrock at the end of his palace; the sprawling pool was almost Olympic in size.
  • Standing on this promontory today allows visitors to see where Herod’s pool once was and to imagine the luxury of Herod’s palace, which the Jewish historian Josephus called, “the most magnificent.”
After the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Caesarea became the Roman seat of power in Israel for 500 years. Roman governors, or procurators, resided in Herod’s opulent palace in Caesarea. The Apostle Paul was imprisoned on the grounds of the palace (or “Praetorium”) for two full years (Acts 23:35; 24:37). A sign today marks the likely spot.
The Pontius Pilate Inscription
When an team of Italian archaeologists excavated in Caesarea in 1961, they discovered an inscription with the words translated, “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.”
  • This archaeological find is the only written source outside of the New Testament that mentions the name, “Pontius Pilate”—the procurator who lived in Caesarea and who condemned Jesus of Nazareth to death.
  • A replica of the inscription stands in Caesarea today, and the original stands on display in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
In the Google Street view window below, the Pontius Pilate inscription stands in the foreground and Herod’s Palace is in the background. Use the buttons to explore and look around!
Our next stop is MEGIDDO to tour the ancient site and see the vast Jezreel valley with the name synonymous with Armageddon. 

Tel Megiddo’s tremendous value came from its strategic location as the sentinel of the most important pass through the Mt. Carmel range.

Whoever held Tel Megiddo in the ancient world controlled the traffic and trade along the International Highway to and from Egypt. That meant both military and financial security.

Taking Megiddo is like capturing a thousand cities. —Pharaoh Thutmose III
Its value simply can’t be exaggerated.
Tel Megiddo—Looking Back
Geography doesn’t change.
That’s why Tel Megiddo’s strategic location remained for centuries the envy of all who passed through the land of Israel.
When someone conquered the site, they often would rebuild directly on top of the rubble of the previous inhabitants. It’s no wonder today that Tel Megiddo’s towering ruins offer a stunning view of the Jezreel Valley.
After lunch, we to travel to NAZARETH, Jesus’ childhood home and visit Nazareth village, a recreation of life during the time of Jesus. 

The gospels tell us Nazareth rested on a hill with a formidable precipice (Luke 4:29). From here Jesus cold see the battles of Israel’s history.
The city’s name likely comes from the Hebrew term netzer, meaning “branch” or “shoot.” Some scholars believe this represents the faith of those Jews who returned from exile. Their hope focused on the coming Messiah, the “righteous Branch” of David, promised by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15).
But when He did finally show up, they tried to throw Him over the cliff.
Nazareth Today
Today, the residents of Nazareth represent very distinct people groups.
  • The older part the city includes communities of Christian and Muslim Palestinians.
  • The newer section, called Nazareth Illit (meaning “Upper Nazareth,” as in elevation), serves as the Jewish district.
The modern city has swallowed the ancient one. Ancient ruins are virtually non-existent. 

We then travel to the 2,000 year-old city of TIBERIAS. Overnight at the Caesar Premier hotel situated beside the sea.

A night view of Tiberias, the city, along the sea of Tiberias or Galilee.
The most striking place in Galilee has to be the Sea that bears its name. And the most striking time to see the sea? Sunrise . . . for sure.
Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee flattens all objects into silhouettes and paints the sky a murky red. As the sun peeks over the eastern hills, it draws a line of light from the distant shore straight across the water to wherever you stand—and follows you like a spotlight.
The Sea of Galilee was—and still is—notorious for unexpected storms. A squall in March 1992 sent 10-foot-high waves crashing into downtown Tiberias, causing significant damage.
In the dark, early morning, sometime between 3 and 6 a.m., Jesus came to His disciples by “walking on the sea” (Matt. 14:25; Mark 6:48; John 6:19). But instead of expecting their miracle-working Lord, the dozen on board assumed Jesus was, of all things, a ghost!
A full moon sets just behind Mount Arbel,
perhaps the place where Jesus went to pray
as He sent the disciples on ahead (See Mark 6) 
He comforted them in reply, got in the boat and stilled the storm. Then Mark wrote what has always seemed an unusual line to me: “They were utterly astonished, for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened” (Mark 6:51-52). They hadn’t learned a thing. Consequently, they had no idea what to expect!
If we’re honest, I think we’ll see that we resemble these men. The unrealistic expectations they had, which Jesus revealed, we also store in abundance. We have our agenda for how best to “serve God.” All other events—especially storms—just get in the way.


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