Love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him, for the Lord is your life! Deut. 30:20

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Out my window

(a little break from posting about our trip to Israel)

April - usually the time I am getting flowers from the nursery.  

But we had a cold snap and winter returned.

Will my red bud flower?
 There is really a beauty in it though.  We were lucky that none of our tree branches broke off, unlike many people.

Where's Spring?  Brrrrr!

 Poor irises!

 Melting....   today it is supposed to get close to 70 degrees.  This is Kansas, afterall.

I just read on Facebook that there is possible snow this coming week! 

                                                                 I'm ready to dig in the dirt... 

Thursday, April 11, 2013


We went to Beth Shan, a city in the Decapolis.  It's importance was due to its strategic location; the hub of the trade route between the nations.

It used to be under Egypts control. 
 Under Solomon, Israel used this city as an administrative city.

Under the Greek period, it received the name Scythopolis.  Alexander the Great entertained here.  They were Hellenistic - if it feels good, do it.  Feed the lust.  They were also polytheistic, worshiping many gods.  They felt they had to appease the gods by sacrificing animals and humans.  I am so glad our God does not take His vengeance out on us if He isn't pleased with my "works".  He is a Restorer and Rescuer!

Hippodromes (Greek stadiums for horse and chariot racing), theatres, forums and Roman temples characterized this city and the other cities in the Decapolis.  Life was saturated with Gentile presence and Greco-Roman culture.  It was really foreign territory for Jesus and His disciples.

Would you believe that 21 years ago, much of this was underground?  It has only recently been excavated!

Byzantine bath houses.  The 4th - 6th century AD bathhouses covers almost 2 acres.
 These are the public toilets.  You straddle between the posts.  Lots of people can go at the same time! To wipe, they put material on a stick and they would pass it down the line.  (gross!!!)
 King Saul committed suicide on Mt.Gilboa while fleeing the Philistines. (1 Samuel 31).  They cut off his head and displayed his body on the wall at Beth-shan at the top of the hill.
 Almost everyone decided to climb the mountain or hill.  I had been struggling with not feeling well, so I opted not to do that and took an adventure looking at all the ruins.
An earthquake demolished these towers.  We were surprised to find much volcanic activity and lava rock in the area.

Al could see this McDonalds as he climbed Mt. Gilboa.

 There were ruins of a fortress at the top of the hill.

Dated pictures shared by Marcia P., also on our trip

Our stay at a kibbutz

For our 2nd night (and where we would spend the next 4 nights), we went to Ein  Gev, a kibbutz located on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. 

What is a kibbutz??

Wikipedia says:  kibbutz (Hebrewקִבּוּץ / קיבוץ, lit. "gathering, clustering"; plural kibbutzim) is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today, farming has been partly supplanted by other economic branches, including industrial plants and high-tech enterprises. Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism. In recent decades, some kibbutzim have been privatized and changes have been made in the communal lifestyle. A member of a kibbutz is called a kibbutznik (Hebrewקִבּוּצְנִיק).

In 2010, there were 270 kibbutzim in Israel. Their factories and farms account for 9% of Israel’s industrial output, worth US$8 billion, and 40% of its agricultural output, worth over $1.7 billion.

At any rate, they operate this very nice resort.  The BEST showers ever!!!  I have never had such powerful water pressure ever in a shower!  WONDERFUL!!!  I asked Al if we could have pressure like that, but he says it is a city thing.

You could see the Sea of Galilee from our back window/patio.

Across the way is the city of Tiberius.

(at night)


There were these beautiful parrots flying about.  We were told that they were pets that escaped and they have multiplied!

We were served delicious buffet meals!  The coffee was excellent!  Although we all found it odd that in Israel they do not serve coffee in the evening.  We all missed our coffee to go with our desserts.
We had such fun visiting with our new travel partners.  Often we would sit with different people and hear their stories - where they were from and about their families.  Several had Kansas connections and a couple even knew people we knew.  Such a small world!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Our bus drove us to Caesarea Maritime.

King Herod built Caesarea as a luxurious city, carefully planned city laid out on a grid Greco-Roman style.  It had paved streets and monuments such as temples, a Palace, public baths and entertainment sites. Caesarea's strategic location placed it at the juncture of important trade routes.  The harbour offered no natural advantages as the currents were dangerous and there were problems with silting.  Using ingenious technical advances, Herod's engineers constructed two huge breakwaters, lined with warehouses.  At the end of the breakwater stood a lighthouse, whose fires burned 24 hours a day.  Six enormous bronze statutes marked treacherous sandbars.  To ships coming in from the sea, the sight must have been truly impressive.

The wealth of Roman Caesarea is reflected through the wide range of stone particular to the Roman building style.  Marble and granite were brought from all over the Mediterranean and Eastern coasts and especially from the famous quarries of Greece, Turkey and Egypt.

The theatre offered seating for more than 10,000.

As we walked by the theatre on our way to this area below for our lesson time, we passed a group of Asians singing "Amazing Grace".  Very worshipful and touching! 
 Later on, an Asian girl was passing our little group and she stopped to ask me in halting English what we were doing.  I showed her our syllabus "Exploring Bible Times:  Field Notes" and mentioned that we were doing a Biblical studies tour.  She gave me a big smile.  "I am a Christian too.  I am from China!"  We hugged each other.  "We are sisters" I told her.  "Yes!  Sisters!"  We both had tears in our eyes.  Someday I will ask her her story!

Jutting into the sea are the excavated remains of an impressive palace with a pool in its western section.

Just think!  Paul was right here, in this court, appealing to Caesar!!  (Acts 25:11)  He lived under house arrest in Caesarea for 2 years.  To the Romans, the idea of people believing in a Messiah was to them a political coup.  Christians were considered traitors to Rome.  Paul would argue that Christians were not traitors and no threat.

Caesarea was home to Cornelius in whose house Peter first preached to the Gentiles.  It was the place of residence of Philip, the evangelist.  Later, Peter was rescued by the prayers of the people in this city.  

James was beheaded here.

A riot incited the outbreak of the first Jewish revolt against Rome.  So much history!

King Herod's Hippodrome - This edifice, whose location perfectly matches Josephus' description, was built for the inauguration of the city in 10/9 BC.  This hippodrome was the venue for the Action Games instituted by King Herod in honor of the Roman emperor Augustus.  The games were held every four years, and included horse and chariot races, athletics, gladiatorial combat and hunting.

Beautiful mosaic flooring in the hot tub.

A bride and groom were having their pictures taken.

A shirt for sale in the gift shop.

In the 9th century (Arab period), a fortified city surrounded the harbour, with high walls and dry moat.

The Roman aqueducts - Since Caesarea had no rivers or springs, drinking water for the Roman and Byzantine city was brought via a water aqueduct, bringing fresh water from Mt. Carmel, an elaborate water and sewer system.

Following the Arab conquest in 640, Caesarea lost its political and economic significance.  Most of its citizens left the city and it became a forsaken village.  In the 9th century, with the development of sea-trade and the recovery of coastal cities, Caesarea was refortified.  It was conquered by the Crusaders in 1101 and ruled by the Knights of Garnier.  It was again destroyed and rebuilt.  Later Bosnian refugees settled here.  In recent years, new residential areas were built in the vicinity.  Caesarea is now a national park.  Excavations are still underway.