Monday, February 27, 2012

Trip to Samaria - another 11 hour long field study:)

Today we travel and visit some northern territories above Jerusalem.  Here was our first view of the day, in the hills of what was eastern Ephraim (one of Joshua's tribal territories). The prominent peak is the "Alexandrium", a Hasmonean (Maccabees) fort later restored by Herod the Great.
 Rachel and Aubrey, dear sweet girls, I just love 'em!
 Ben is bending down, and do you see that streak of light coming from the heavens!?!
 I snapped this from the bus window. Sheep marked with orange to identify them with their owner.
 Here we are ancient Shechem, with Mount Gerazim in the background. Shechem is the first place that Abraham came when he entered Canaan, and he built an altar to the Lord here, it is also where Joshua came to pronounce the blessings and curses (between Mt. Gerazim and Mt. Ebal)  Joseph was sold into slavery not far from here, and many other biblical stories.
 The ancient wall of Shechem with Mt. Gerazim in the distance. You can see the student at the bottom, to get an idea how large this wall is.
 Me 'n Mount Gerazim.  There is a Samaritan Temple and village up there, we wanted to go up, but by the time we were ready, the mountain was shrouded in clouds and rain.
 This is Mount Ebal, on the other side of Shechem, which is near modern day Nablus (a city in the West Bank that has a lot of unrest there). Shechem sits right between Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerazim.
 Ancient gate of the appears to have had some kind of sliding door mechanism, something that rolled between those large hewn boulders.
 Now we are at the ancient remains of the city of Samaria. This was a theater!  Omri, father of Ahab, bought the hill of Samaria, and made it into a capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ahab then built it into a glorious place, with a huge palace here. You remember Ahab don't you? He married the wicked Jezebel, who gave Elisha a run for his money!
 Remains of a huge tower guarding the city of Samaria.  Very interesting stones that are V-shaped and squeeze together, such as if a battering ram were to strike it from the outside, it would only compact the stones more tightly together.
 Olive trees amidst a field of wild flowers - early signs of Spring (Yeah!! I'm cold most of the time:)
 This is Shiloh, the picture doesn't do it justice, but this is the likely site of the Tabernacle that was erected after the Israelites came to Canaan. Of course you don't see remains of the Tabernacle, because it was made of goat hair, but it is a flat place of mostly bedrock which would have made a good foundation place.  Many came to here yearly to offer sacrifice and worship. There is an olive press right next to it, b/c they needed lots of oil for this, and many dwellings nearby. This is where Hannah came, was distraught from being childless, and the High Priest blessed her, and then where Samuel grew up with the Eli the Priest.
Almond blossoms!! They come out in February:)   We had an awesome day!  Next weekend we get to go on a 3 day field trip to Judah, Philistia, and the Negev...woo hoo!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Visit to Mea Shearim - Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood

Welcome to Mea Shearim, an Ultra Orthodox Jewish Neighborhood, situated northwest of the Old City of Jerusalem. You need to enlarge this top picture (click on it), to read the sign - it says please don't walk through their neighborhood with immodest clothes on. We (the girls) all had long skirts on.
This is a large community of Haredim, which means Ultra-Orthodox Jews, the ones that are the strictest and most traditional in Judaism.  There are different types (Ashkenazi, Lithuanian, Sephardic: some believe in being involved politically, some believe you should not vote, most do not join the military even though ordinarily it is required for all in Israel to do 2-3 years of service). Most of the Haredim go to Yeshiva (school) their whole lives, studying Torah, and live off government assistance and charity.

 Two men coming out of a Yeshiva (school)
 Today is the afternoon before shabbat (Sabbath). The children are buying bread...oh,  my, you should have smelled the bread baking and food cooking, all the preparations for Shabbat, because you are not allowed to cook after sundown. We were all very hungry when we were done our tour.
Two Jewish boys I snapped a pic of as we passed each other on the street.  Note the payot or sidecurls of these boys - they Haredim grow these locks because of Leviticus 19:27.  You can look it up and read it and see if you think it means to grow long curly sideburns.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Took a walk - took a few pics - Damascus Gate

 So when I need a break from studying, I just walk to the Old City!!  (Can you even imagine having that for a diversion?) The Old City of Jerusalem has 7 operative gates right now, and I had never been through the Damascus Gate, which is on the north side of the city (I live on the south side)
 The entrance to Damascus Gate, the most ornate gate of the city.
 Fruit market, just inside the gate,
 Shops, shops and more shops, long roads of more and still more shops.
 How about some fresh strawberries?? They are in season right now, delicious!
 Snapped this photo on the way back to school, the hill in the foreground is the southern end of the Mount of Olives, the neighborhood is called Silwan.
Back to school, Home Sweet Home, fumbling to find my key to unlock the gate. God is good!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pics and a Video from our recent Field Study Sun. 2/19

On our way to Jericho, here's a look at the Judean Wilderness, where Jesus stayed for 40 days alone. It was like looking at a moonscape, so vast, so barren and intimidating.
 Me 'n a few of the girls in the Wilderness, the town of Jericho is way off in the distance.  Notice the 'open heaven' above us...Wow!!
 A man and his dog, I mean camel, were walking by. He, of course, wanted to sell us a ride.  The little boy and his donkey (below) had some jewelry to sell us, he wasn't more than 4 or 5 years old.
 Above is a short video of the Greek Orthodox monastery we visited.  We walked a long way down into a gorge and then up again to get to the monastery, and then had to walk a looooonnngg  way back up to the bus. The monks inside did give us some Turkish coffee while we waited for the rain to subside.
 Below is Jericho, the modern city. Jericho has always been an oasis in the desert.  It has several natural springs that allow agriculture and beauty in the middle of a barren desert. Jesus came here often, it is where he met Zaccheus, too.
 See this stone tower??  It is the oldest excavated ruins of a city found in the entire world!! Per archaeologists,  it is estimated to be from around 8000 BC, from the Neolithic age, which makes it 10K years old.  So Jericho is considered to be the oldest city in the whole world!!
We ended our day at Gezer, a city on a hill from which you can see the entire coastal plain of Israel. Standing on this spot, Dr. Wright pointed out Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and all the way down to Gaza, we could see all those cities from one spot.  Then the sun set, we had to go home, I was exhausted (11 1/2 hours of walking up and down hills, seeing, learning, being continually amazed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Visit to the Conservative Jewish Synagogue

 Hi Everyone!  This is my professor for my Jewish Thought and Practice class, Rabbi Moshe Silverschein. He took us on a field trip to one of the synagogues that he attends. This is the 'ark of the covenant' that houses the Torah.
Well, I had turned this picture around before I uploaded it and look what happened~~can't figure out how to rotate it, sorry:(  But this is Rabbi Moshe showing us how he reads the scroll, he uses a pointer because you wouldn't want your oil fingers on the animal parchment paper.  He is reading is the Torah portion of the week (the Jews read a different portion weekly, and go through the entire Torah (1st 5 books of the Old Testament) each year, reading and studying it at length. After the very liturgical service,we had a Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner at the synagogue, which was really nice. Tomorrow we are going on an 11 hour bus field trip to various places, it is supposed to be cold and raining...but as Dr. Wright has informed us, that never stops us...we don't cancel anything.  Brrrrrrr...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ready for some more pics?? These are from my field trip 2/12

 This is an early morning view from Mount Scopus (right next to the Mount of Olives, looking down on the Old City with the sun shining on the Eastern Wall.
 And here's the view from the Mount of Olives, again looking at the Eastern wall and the Eastern Gate, and of course at the Temple Mount.
 Standing in the same spot as the pic above, here is a look at the Southern wall, and just below the Southern wall you see the City of David. David originally had his city down on these slopes, around the Gihon Spring where they got their water from.  At the very top, almost center, you see Dormition Abbey (the round building) and the church spire right next too it, they are on Mount Zion right next to my campus.
 Now I'm walking down in the Kidron Valley, looking up at the Eastern Wall and Eastern Gate, which has been closed for centuries.
 A view of some tombs down in the Kidron Valley
 Here we are having class on top of the Herodian, the palace that Herod built on a hill out past Bethlehem (see video in the last post)
 Here's a look down into the Herodian ruins...bath houses, dining room, living quarters, etc.
 This view is from the Herodian, looking east to the Judean Wilderness.  The fields below may have been where David watched his father's  flock as a boy.  If you look real close, you can see the Dead Sea way over there in the distance.
 An anciety foot bath found at the Herodian...I could use a good foot massage right now...
There I am at the Herodian, taking a rest against an ancient column.  I get a little tired keeping up with all these young people, but it's a good and happy kind of tired:)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

View from the Herodian

We had a loooong 11 hour field trip yesterday.  Went up to the Mount of Olives, walked back down, drove to the Herodian, then to Bethlehem. Saw lots of things, but wanted to show you this short video from the parking lot of the Herodian. Later I will post some pics of our trip, and you'll see what the inside looks like. Herod the Great built many extraordinary things, he seemed to have an insatiable appetite for extravagance. This was a summer home he built on a hill, it looks like a volcano from a distance but it's not.  It was a huge round structure with living quarters, a dining hall, gardens, baths and sauna's etc.  This is just southwest of Bethlehem and we could see the Mount of Olives from here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall

I got tired of studying/reading, and this afternoon wandered down to the Western Wall. I stood on a chair on the women's side, and over the fence took this video of a young man at his Bar Mitvah. There are multiple bar mitvahs at the wall, I think on Mondays and Thursdays. Lots of celebrations, lot of people praying. I love going there. I wormed my way up to the wall, leaned on the cold stone wall, and prayed for the salvation of the Jews, that their eyes would be opened. The Western Wall functions as an outdoor synagogue. The men just cover their heads, the women don't have to, but this is the most holy Jewish place. When women leave the wall, they back up to exit, not turning their backs to the wall, showing respect and reverence as they are leaving,
By the way, I also wandered to the money changers (needed some shekels), and to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter, then found my way to the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter, and back to campus through Dormition Abbey.  I have learned where some of the major streets are and am getting better about finding my way!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More pics from Jerusalem!

My friend Hermana, from South Africa, a prayer partner, prayer leader, a missionary on campus.
 That's me sitting on steps that led to the southern entrance to the temple, these are the very steps that were used in Jesus' day, and He ascended these same stairs to enter the temple. Wow!
 Dr. Paul Wright, Director of JUC, teacher of my physical settngs of the Bible class, explains about the Herodian stones that were used to build the Temple Mount retaining wall.
 Down in the City of David, which is down in the valley slopes south of the Temple Mount, they unearthed this ancient toilet...can you even imagine this on a cold morning!!
 The Hulda Gates, on the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, these were unearthed not long ago, at the time the steps to the temple were found.
 Sign I took a picure of that hangs in the courtyard of the Western Wall.
Pic from a rooftop, a green lit-up Moslem minaret in the foreground, the Church of the Redeemer Bell tower top left, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher domes top right.