Feb 17, 2012

Day 3 in Israel

Day 3 in Israel. We visited Bet Shean/Scythopolis, Mt. Gilboa, Meggido, Bet Alpha, and the Jordan River. 

The first place we visited is Bet Shean or Scythopolis as it was known during the days of Jesus. Because of the fertility of the land, the abundance of water, and its strategic location on the main trading route, Jewish sages said about the city, "If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then the gate is Bet Shean."

Bet Shean was continually inhabited for over 7,000 years. It was one of the chief cities of the Decapolis. Although it's not mentioned by name, there's a great chance that Jesus spent time there as he traveled from the Galilee region to Jerusalem.

When Saul and his sons were killed in the battle against the Philistines, they hanged their bodies on the wall of this city (1 Sam. 31:10-12).

It is one of the best examples of what ancient cities were like in the days of Jesus.
The Coliseum at Bet Shean/Scythopolis where the gladiatorial games took place.

Bet Shean or Scythopolis was one of the chief towns of the decapolis. This city was inhabited by civilizations for 7,000 years before finally being destroyed by a major earth quake in the 700's CE

The main street or cardo of Bet Shean

Closer view of the main street/cardo

A model of the city of Bet Shean

The view of the theater from the outside

One of two main bath houses of Bet Shean

The side walk of main street. The entire side walk was decorated with  mosaic

The main street was lined by side walks on both sides. The main street was angled for drainage complete with its own sewer system. Pretty ingenious

The tel of Bet Shean. That's not a hill. The tel is the build of layers of multiple civilizations that built upon the ruins of older civilizations.

Columns and more columns. It had to have been an awesome site.

An artist's rendition of what the city would have looked like

Guess what those seats are for?

Here's Preston demonstrating how the ancients might have taken care of business.

An artist's rendition of the public latrines

The main entrance to the theater

Another view of the city

Inside of the main theater

The acoustics in this place is amazing!

An artist's rendition of the theater
The second place we visited was Meggido or better known as the place of Armageddon, or the final battle before Christ's triumphal return.

Meggido is the place where:

  • Joshua defeated the king of Meggido - Josh 12:7, 21
  • Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera and his armies - Judges 5:19-20
  • King Josiah was killed in battle against Pharaoh Neco - 2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chron. 35:20-24
  • and where the final battle on earth will take place before Christ's triumphal return - Rev. 16:13-16

A model of the fortress on top of Meggido

The altar in Meggido for sacrifices

View of the Jezreel valley from Meggido. This is the place where the final battle on earth is to take place before Jesus returns

It was a very windy day...wind gusts of 30-40mph!
The third place we visited was Bet Alpha where in the 1928 a group of farmers found the remains of a synagogue built in the 6th century. What is remarkable about this synagogue is that it was adorned with a mosaic floor that depicts pagan god Helios, and has a zodiac at the center of the synagogue.

By the 6th century, secularism had so entered into Jewish religion that there was great tolerance regarding God's command about making no images. Synagogues prior to the 4th century would have never adorned their synagogue with art, let alone pagan symbols.
The mosaic floor of a 6th century synagogue discovered at Bet Alpha

What's amazing about this mosaic is that it depicts a zodiac and the god Helios, god of the sun, as its center place in a Jewish synagogue!
The final place we visited before returning to the hotel was a place called Yardenit on the Jordan River. This compound is a popular destination with Christian pilgrims not because it's a holy site, but because they've made a compound to facilitate Christians who want to be baptized or to renew their baptismal vows in the Jordan River.
A view of the Jordan river. Many Christians make pilgrimage here to be baptized and to reaffirm their baptismal vows

1 comment:

teacher_deb said...

Wow! What a great travel Log! I have never been to the middle east but I have been in Morocco. Isn't it just awe inspiring to stand ontiles from the 3rd century and see pieces of buildings standing from even before that? I see the pictures of the jordan river and wonder about the pastor who babptised Alan when he was a baby, I wonder where he picked up his vial of water from the Jordan River,that he baptised Alan with? Alan's folks told me the preacher had traveled to Israel and picked it up himself in a little vial. Have a great trip with your great traveling companions! God bless you all!