Israel Day 3: Tel Arad, Beersheba, Close to Gaza, Ashkelon

Sunday we woke up, packed our bags, and then headed towards the coast. On our way we made a few stops. The first one was Tel Arad.

This is an old city located at the top of a hill and it overlooked a Canaanite city down below. When they uncovered this site, they found a temple modeled after the Temple in Jerusalem. This is the only one found in all of Israel and even the Holy of Holies was uncovered. We got our picture taken in it… don’t worry, this is a replica. The real thing is in the national museum J.

Here’s JT laying down on the sacrificial alter.

At the front of this city we learned about what a Solomonic Gate was. This is essentially a gate that is 3 or 4 door ways deep and makes it very hard for any enemy to get through. Here’s Marcy in front of the one in Arad.

We walk down the hill and make our way to the Canaanite city located below. Keep in mind that this dates back to 1,500 BC. Crazy. We found an area where they used to have pagan sacrifices. The picture below shows the area to the right where they would slay the animal and then there is a pit in the ground that would catch all the blood.

Just outside the city there is an area you can sit with your tour group and learn from your guide while sitting in the shade. We were in awe while watching a group from Ethiopia participate in a worship service while they were here. They are very passionate and enthusiastic during their service.

You can see ruins of all types of homes and different areas. Here’s Marcy in the kitchen washing dishes J

On a more serious note, this is also the spot where Marcy and I reflect on the story of Hagar and how she wondered in the wilderness/desert after Abraham sent her away with Ishmael. From the city we stood in, we looked out and saw the wilderness that Hagar wandered in. We couldn’t fathom how she was strong enough to do something like that. At her breaking point God came to her rescue. This land puts into picture how much these people had to depend on the Lord to provide everything.

Our next stop in the day was at Beer Sheva (Beersheba). This is the capital of the Negev region and is one of the largest cities in Israel with more than 300,000 people. Just outside the modern city is the excavation of the biblical city referred to in the Bible. Here’s a picture of the ancient city with the modern city in the distance.

This city was founded in the 4th Millennium BC and was where Abraham lived for some time. Just outside the city gates is the old well that Abraham drew water out of. What Marcy is standing next to in the below picture is the water trough that runs off of the well. This is what they would fill so that the animals could drink. This trough is also know in Hebrew as a “cup”. So in Psalm 23:5, when it refers to “my cup runneth over”, it is likely referring to the provision of the Lord through a well that does not run dry and there is so much water, even the animals have more than enough to drink.

To mix a bit of modern history as well, we stop at a Kibbutz (farm in Israel, communal/socialistic organization) that was strategic in fighting in the Six Day War in 1948 and families (yes, women and children, about 100 total) fought off the Arabs to keep them back from Tel Aviv. Yes, we’re about 10 miles away from the border of the Gaza Strip. From the angle of this gun (the actual one used in 1948) you can see off in the distance the Palestinian buildings in Gaza.

Yes, it’s crazy, we’re that close to Gaza and no, there were no random missiles to hit anywhere near where we were. The Palestinians just aim and fire from Gaza and hope to hit certain targets in Israel. In the news you’ll hear about the Gaza Strip. Well, this is about where it is. Lord bring peace.

Our last stop of the day before we got to our hotel in Ashkelon was at an old Canaanite city gate (2,000 BC). This is the oldest city gate in all of Israel and it was only uncovered in the last few years. You can see that they even used archways back then.

In Ashkelon we’re staying at none other than the Holiday Inn :) Yes, it even looks fun. It’s right on the Mediterranean Coast and we went for a quick swim before dinner.

Our feet in the Med.

Beautiful sunset. The water was refreshing. Shells cover the entire beach.