Today was a very long but amazing day! Most of our day was spent in Golan Heights, which is the area now under dispute over whether the Israelis should return it to Syria or not.
(This is just a VERY general idea of what we did for the day and only a few of the hundreds of pictures. I’ll show the rest when I return home.)
We started the day driving up to a viewpoint of the Sea of Galilee along the east coast of the sea. It was pretty cold and foggy in the morning as we started our journey around 7am (1am on the US East Coast). The kibbuts (house) where we are staying is on the south side of the Sea right by the island as seen in the following picture.
Across from us on the other side of the Sea was the town of Magdala, most likely the home town of Mary Magdalene. I would show the picture but it was very hazy because of the morning fog.
We were also able to see Mount Tabor in the fog beyond Magdala which is where Deborah led the Israelites into battle and where tradition holds that the Transfiguration of Jesus occurred.
We then traveled to Avital Mount, an abandoned Israeli military base. From it you could see both Syria (even to Damascus) and Lebanon. You could also view Har Hermon (Mount Hermon), which is the highest point in Israel as well as the farthest northern point of Israel. On it stands both Israeli and Syrian outposts. It is also another site that some believe may be the location of the Transfiguration.
Judges 18:29 “And they named the city Dan, after the name of Dan their ancestor, who was born to Israel; but the name of the city was Laish at the first.”
Judges 20:1 “Then all the people of Israel came out, from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah.”
Genesis 14:14 “When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
This place was awesome because of its amazing archeological match ups with the Biblical text. As we began the trail along the River Dan up to the city, one of the pastors in our group read Psalm 42, which our guide said some believe may be making references to Dan.
We also saw the Canaanite entrance into the city which Abraham would have entered through on his journey to rescue Lot in Genesis 14 which is why it is referred to as Abraham’s Gate.
We also went to the Israelite gate of the city from the time of Israel’s occupation of the land. This was also where the tablet referring to the House of David, which was the first non-biblical reference to David uncovered, was found.
This was a city built in the Hellenistic Era. It was here in Matthew 16 that Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say I am?” as well as asking, “Who do you say I am?” It was also in this same conversation that Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Interestingly enough, the cave in the city near the Temple of Pan, a Greek god, was called the Gates of Hell. It was here that (long before Jesus’ time) Canaanites would throw their firstborn child into the rocks of the Gates of Hell as a sacrifice to Baal.
Then after lunch at a local restaurant, which like all of Israel does not import any of its food, we went to Kursi where the miracle of the swine almost assuredly took place. It is also the location of an old Byzantine monastery, which is not located on the exact spot of the miracle but next to the mountain.
In this next picture is the mountain on which the event took place.
The Jordan River
Then to end the day we ended the day at the Jordan River where ten people in our group got baptized. It was very awesome seeing hundreds of people from many different groups get baptized in the same area as Christ. I can understand to some extent why Naaman did not want to dunk himself in it.