Israel Day 7: Chorazim, Hazor, Dan, Banias Waterfall, Caesarea Philippi, Golan Heights

Note: This post was written in the present tense because I wrote it while we were out and about that day... 

Leaving the hotel at another early start at 8am. Our first stop is at Chorazim, a Jewish city during the time of Jesus. This is one of the three that he condemns in the Bible and says it will be ruined.

Today is going to be a hot day, so we start our learnings from Yuval in the shade and the breeze is cool. We’re 2 ½ miles off the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He taught us about various Jewish customs. The Yamaka is used as a head covering and a reminder to all Jews that they are to remain humble and not to put themselves above the Lord (even though some still do). The menorah is always 7 candles (9 candles is specifically for Hanukah = 1 candle as the servant and 8 candles for each day). 7 is the number of perfection and the light represents the light of God. Two olive branches are on each side of the candles, representing the servants of God = Moses and Elijah. The Menorah has always been the ancient symbol of Judiasm, not the start of David (that wasn’t used as a Jewish symbol until after Christ’s time, although it always existed). 

When we went into the Synagogue, we saw the seat for the Rabbi. We then read Christ’s words on the topics of the seat in Matthew 23. We are not to be referred to as teachers either, but as servants.

Here is Marcy and JT in front of the synagogue.

These buildings are made out of Lava Stones, as opposed to the buildings on the coast made out of Sand Stones and the buildings in the valleys made out of Lime Stone. The country is so small, yet so versatile.

We’re now above sea level and are heading to our next destination, Tel Hazor.

Tel Hazor is one of the largest Canaanite cities, housing more than 15,000 people. It was the New York city of that time. 

We read Joshua 11 while sitting under the shade of the old palace just inside the gates (which is the “Solomonic Gates” of that time = 4 walls thick). As we read the story, Joshua comes to destroy the entire city and burn it to the ground. You can see the burn layer and the old rocks that were cracked due to the heat of the flames.

We’re also reminded of the promise God made to Abraham that he would conquer this land and God would give it to him. Think about if God promised that you would one day conquer and take over New York city. That would be a lofty promise and yet, it came true. God was faithful.

JT and I think about this lesson at this spot: God keeps his promises.

We arrive at Pania (currently known at Bania) and during Jesus’ time it was known as Caesarea Philippi. This city was the central place for Pagan worship in the land. The city was named after Pan, the idol. Herod built a temple here at the base of the cave, which was also known as “The Gates of Hades”, for all the gods lived at the top of the mountain (Mt. Hermon). The city sits at the base of the mountain where 1 of 3 tributaries comes out and feeds into the Jordan river. We sit underneath a large fig tree for shade as JT shares the scripture of Matthew 16:13-20, where Jesus asks “Who do men say that I am”? He traveled all the way from Capernaum (30 miles) to ask this question, at the heart of Pagan worship. It was later that he went up on the mount and was transfigured (possibly the top of Mt. Hermon).

Quick drive over to the Banias Waterfall. On our long hike down the hillside before we reached the river, we read Psalm 42 what David wrote, as the rushing water is too loud to hear people once you’re at the river that flows out of the waterfall. The streams and rapids are beautiful. 

The final destination was the waterfall. The water is rushing so hard that it blows a cool breeze on everyone. We’re sweating so bad! It’s really hot today.

Now that it’s 1:30, it’s time to stop for lunch. Delicious spread buffet with Chocolate Cake and coffee for dessert. Something Paula Dean would make J. Here’s my plate of food: YUM.

We get back on the bus and head to the historical city of Dan where there is the second tributary we visit. We hike through the shaded forest and cross over a portion of the river that is freezing! Might as well be an athletic ice bath.

Our feet are numb and it is a nice relief from the heat. Kids and families are in their bathing suits and are enjoying the water.

Further down on the path is the entrance to the historical city of Dan. 

Just inside the city gates you can see the Kings Thrown where he used to judge/rule over the people. We stop in the shade and learn about the ancient artifact that was found under the city road: Dan Stella. This is an ancient tablet that Hazel (not an Israelite) wrote about his victory over 70 kings and the House of David. This was the first artifact uncovered that actually referred to King David (uncovered in 1993 under this road...). 

Up the hill we saw the original gate during the Solomonic time period. Beyond that was the ruins that predated that gate (the gate was built on top of the Tel). Further down was more of the excavated city of Dan (only 10% has currently been uncovered). You can see the entire area of the temple that Jeroboam built in order to keep his people from not going to the temple in the southern kingdom of Judah (Jerusalem). He didn’t want his people to leave and go to the Southern Kingdom and serve Rehaboam. Many parts of the temple were not built according to the law and ultimately led their city to destruction.

Just beyond in the distance 10 miles is the border of Israel and Lebanon.

Our final stop at this site was at an old Canaanite city gate that dates back to 2,000 BC. Here's Marcy and Dr. Hannah standing in awe.

It is amazing how much history has been built upon each other all within 1 square mile.

We get into the bus and travel the same road that Paul did when traveling to Damascus when Christ appeared to him. Our next stop is at a modern day memorial site for the 1973 war where Syria and Egypt surprised Israel in attack. It is known as the 6 Day War and Israel was victorious.

The memorial is up in the Golan Heights which is 3,000 feet above sea level. It is breezy and very chilly. It feels like a cool Colorado evening. We can see the tank that was used in the war as well as the Syrian community across the valley.

Yuval, our tour guide, shared with us that currently in Israel, all youth have to serve in the military for 2 years starting at the age of 18. You are in the reserves till you’re 45 and at any moment the country can call you into battle. Every year from age 20 to 45 men will go for a year of military training to refresh their skills and remind themselves of what actions they need to take should they be called to war.

JT and I really appreciate this site and the modern day history that we learned. We have such an egocentric perspective in the US.

It’s late in the day and we’re headed back down to the Sea of Galilee for dinner and some shopping in the markets. More tomorrow…