Israel Day 5: Megiddo, Jezreel Valley, Mt. Carmel, Nazareth, & Mt. Arbel

We didn’t have enough time yesterday afternoon to see all the sights in Caesarea, so we stop by 2 more places for a quick look. 

Located right off a main road is a nice park with a Byzantine mosaic large enough to be the floor to an entire home. Obviously you can tell this was a mansion outside the main city walls. What shocks me is that there are no ropes keeping tourists off the uncovered mosaic. In the USA, you’d have ropes and security making sure you didn’t touch history. Here, it’s almost encouraged for you to get up close and examine the details. I love that.

Jack, our good friend on our tour from Hot Springs, AR, noticed a specific animal on the outside of the mosaic: an Arkansas Razorback!

Our second stop is at the Aqueducts that led from the mountains 9 miles all the way into the city. This spot is just breathtaking. The sand has preserved all three aqueducts until now (Herod built the first one in 9 BC) and locals are enjoying the views and shade they provide while their families play in the sea. JT’s view from the ground wasn’t good enough, so he decided to climb all the way to the top and get the view from where the water used to flow.

We only had about 10 minutes to look around… I wish we had the whole morning. This beach area is so beautiful and I could just sit down with a cup of coffee and read a book. Well, no time for sitting, on to the next stop!

Mt. Carmel is the highest point in the mountain range and it overlooks the Jezreel Valley. At the top there is a monastery with a wonderful garden and we sit and read the story from 1 Kings 18:20-40 about Elijah against the prophets of Baal. There had been a 3 year drought and Elijah knew that the Lord could send fire to consume the sacrifice and that Baal could not. The Lord provided fire and once again proved His provision.

It’s fitting that the Jezreel Valley means that “God will provide”. Many battles have been fought in this valley between Samaria and Galilee. This is also the valley where Armageddon will take place.

On our bus ride down the mountain, Dr. Hannah came by and asked Marcy if she wanted to try Turkish Coffee. After one sip the expression on her face Dr. Hannah said was, “That’ll clear your eyeballs” :) Enough said.

The bus started to slow down and Yuval pointed out on the side of the road a stone tomb built during David’s Regin (1st Temple Period: 1,000 BC). Here it is, just along the side of the road. Unbelievable.

The pomegranate is one of the 7 fruits of the land (pomegranate, wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives, and honey). Did you know that there are exactly 613 seeds in each pomegranate and exactly 613 laws in the Old Testament? Coincidence… I think not. The top of the pomegranate is also used in a lot of décor historically because of its shape of a crown.

In the valley there is a place called City of Megiddo. Whoever held this city held the province of the Jezreel Valley. It is also known as the city of “King of the Hill”. Some think that this is the city Jesus referred to when mentioning a “city on a hill”. 300 Arabian horses were trained here for battle. Here we are standing in the old stables.

We also saw temple ruins of Solomon’s time, along with a 9th Century BC pagan alter (could’ve been used for human sacrafices).

In the city there is a tunnel that goes all the way down past bedrock and leads to outside the city gates where there is a fresh water spring. This is how they would’ve fetched water without having to go outside the city walls. Not much of the spring is left today, but there still is some.

Lunch was absolutely divine. This was my first time trying falafel… YUM! I knew I loved Mediterranean food.

Of course there was a great jewelry shop located at this site and our guides all recommended that this is where we were going to get the best quality and deal. Marcy gave me my early birthday present which is a ring with Roman glass in it. She also got a matching set of necklace and earrings. Girls love their jewelry!

Our next site was Nazareth. We were dropped off in the city on the corner just down from the Catholic Church of the Annunciation, which is memory of Christ’s birthplace. This is a new church that was built on the ruins of a former church that once stood here. Once you go inside you can actually see the ruins.

The Catholic Diocese gave art from all around the world to decorate this place. Everything is so ornate and beautiful inside.

We walk through the market and up the road to the Synagogue where Jesus taught.

We read Luke 4 and Isaiah 61:1-2. The last half of v. 2 he didn’t preach… but he will come again. We sat in silence for a bit, sang Holy Ground and Sing Hallelujah (which means Yahweh Saves). Our voices echoed in the small synagogue and tears started streaming down my face. What a wonderful memory and time. This is probably one of the most emotional moments on the trip for me thus far. The weight of what Christ said and what it means is just too much to bear.

We head just outside the city to the cliff we believe is where they wanted to throw Jesus off after he claimed to be God. We can see the entire city of Nazareth from here on one side and on the other we see the entire Jezreel valley.

We took the opportunity to take a few pics in front of the great views. Here we are with all 4 of our group leaders: Dr. John and Carolyn Hannah & Dr. Tom and Kris Keiser.

We stop at McDonalds on our way to the Sea of Gallilee for a quick restroom break and of course… ICE CREAM!! YUM.

And of course we saw your wonderful pet camel just laying down for a nice nap :).

Our first view of the Sea of Galilee. I love this spot.