Galilee, Tel Dan and the Golan Heights

Tiberias is one of the four holy cities in the Talmud, and had a hgh court or Sanhedrian. We motor around the sea to Magdalla and the 4 AD church of Mary, where the multiplication of loaves and fishes occured. It has some exquisite mosaics including the loaf and fishes.

Mosaic Loaves and Fishes.JPG Mosaic Loaves and Fishes

On to the Church of Hepapagon on the Mount of the Beatitudes a beautiful site overlooking the sea of Galilee. Incidentally over 80% of Jesus’ ministry was around the Sea of Galilee. I am asked to read the Sermon on the Mount (Mathew 1-16). It was a surreal experience – reading and hearing the idealism of the words at the site where they were initially spoken. Mount of Beatitudes1.JPG Mount of Beatitudes on Sea of Galilee

It appears that the Saducees believed in today and the Pharisees believed in tomorrow. The Pharisee tradition prevailed and the Beatitudes reflect this. And yet they seem to have been so bureaucratic

We drive up into the mountains to the river Dan main source of the river Jordan, and Tel Dan (Hill of the Judge) an ancient Canaanite and Israeli site 900BC, identified with city of Laish, and the tribe of Dan (one of the 12 tribes of Israel – Samson was of this tribe). Dan was the son of Jacob (Israel), who was the son of Issac, the son of Abraham. The river rushes through, on its way in and out of the sea of Galilee and on to the its final destination in the Dead Sea. An inference is that which allows anything to pass through is alive, but that which does not is dead! The gates of the site are where the expression ‘in the gate’ to mean committed to publicly, was used when Boaz pledged marriage to Ruth, the direct ancestors of David (Ruth 4).

Tel Dan Tel Dan ‘In the gate”

We enjoy a lunch at McDonalds – a refreshing change. Israel has a chain called MacDavid, but their big Mac not called Goliath (sorry). On to the Banias (Caesarea Phippi) where there was an ancient shrine, 50BC, to Pan (there is no P in arabic so Panias became Banias). There are some impressive Roman ruins, including a temple to Augustus 19BC. On this site Jesus asked, ‘And who do you say I am’ and Peter answered correctly and was designated the Rock of Christianity (Mathew 16-13).

Banias (Pan) site.JPG Caesarea Phillipi_Shrine_of_Pan_on_hill

We drive up to the Golan Heights (through Druze Arabs, whose main prophet is Jethro, and who maintained neutrality, with Syria and now with Israel) 3000 feet above sea level, captured by Israel in 1967 and established as a new border with Syria. One understands the stragegic and tactical value of these heights as they overlook the plains of Northern Israel. We see Syria a few miles away with a UN demilitarized zone between, and Damascus in the distance (wish I could have made a side trip, as Damascus is on my list of ‘must see’ cities – duh!)

Syria from Golan Heights.JPG Syria_from_Golan_Heights

On our return we stop of at Kinneret Kibbutz. All Kibbutz had three goals – Jews wanted to return to the land of their birth; they wanted to own land (not allowed for most of their history) and wanted to work as worship. We visit their beautiful cemetery on the banks of the sea of Galilee, and pause to read a poem at the grave of Rachael, one of Israel’s most famous poets – ‘ Spread out your hand look yonder, nothing comes’. There are many stones on the grave, a sign of respect. A fitting end to a remarkable day

Kenneret Cemetery Rachael Kinneret_Cemetery_Rachael

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