Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book of Joshua Field Study

Are you ready to go on a field study with our "Joshua" class?  Here we are, first thing in the morning, standing at a site just east of Jericho, which is the city you see in the background. Nate, on the right, is yawning with anticipation.  Where we are standing is a proposed site for where "Gilgal" may have been - the place where the Israelites camped first after crossing the Jordan with Joshua.  The hills rising just beyond Jericho are where the spies that Joshua sent to Jericho would have hid for 3 days after Rahab helped them escape.
 Walking back to the bus after looking at "Gilgal", we came across this family of sheep and goats.
 Now we are at "Tel es-Sultan" which is the historic Jericho site.  You are looking down into a trench at the oldest known structure built by humans!! It's a tower of some kind, dated at somewhere around 8000 BC.  Jericho is supposedly the oldest inhabited city on earth.  There are many layers of civilation at this Jericho site.
You have to look closely at this picture (enlarge it)..That's professor Stone pointing out what we can see in the trench. Look to the middle of the picture, then slightly to the right and you will see layers of stone and beneath that some mudbricks. This dirt hides all kinds of prior dwellings and structures.

 The red-roofed building here houses the famous spring at Jericho, which produces 1200 gallons of water a minute (in the middle of a desert)!!  You can see the results just beyond it with the lush green fields. Jericho is an amazing oasis in the middle of a harsh and hot desert area.
 These cable cars kept zipping over our heads while were looking at the holes in the ground:)
 So, now we get to ride the cable car!! This thing is in the Guiness book of world records, for being the longest cable car below sea level in the world!! (I'll bet it's the ONLY cable car below sea level:)
 See, I told you....
 On the cable car, just starting to 'take off' we go....
 Looking down, I zoomed in on this purple house....I had never seen a purple house in Israel before.
 Passing over a huge banana, that's alot of bananas.
 Approaching the hills, we can see a monastery up to the left, and see the trail where the people are walking up to it (pictures were taken through the murky plexiglass walls of the cable car).
 Now we are up at the top of the hill, and this is the view of Jericho down below us.  It truly is an oasis in the desert.
 This beautiful clump of flowers just needed to have its picture taken.
 On the way back down the mountain, I zoomed even closer into the purple house, and caught its owner taking a stroll.
 The sign says to 'enjoy the view', so we are...see how barren it is where there is no irrigation.
 Now we are at one of the most interesting archaeology sites I have ever seen. This is one of 5 different 'Sandal Sites' in the area of the Jordan Valley and Shechem...a large, football-field-size site with a low stone fence around it in the shape of a foot, or sandal. This one is called "Bedhat es-Sha'ab". And its always the shape of a right foot.
 We climbed a rocky hill above the 'sandal' but it was still hard to get a picture of the entire shape of the shoe. The square structure you see is inside the foot.  There is a scripture verse in Joshua 1:3 that says" Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses".
 Dr. Stone next to some stones (how appropriate) pointing to the foot down below.
 Here, on the right side of the photo, you are looking at the heel end of the foot. This was likely an Israelite site, because is dated to around 1250-1200 BC, the same time period they crossed over the Jordan.  There are no images, or god figures in the site, which also points to Israelites who worshipped the unseen God.
 Up on the rocky hillside, discussing the sandal site.
 Climbing down from the rocky slope to get a closer view of the foot.  You can see how barren it is in this region.
 We are now within the sandal site, sitting on the edge of a circular structure, probably an altar, made of unhewn stones. There were remains of animals near the site, but no pig, donkey or dog, which also indicates an Israelite site.
 We have now traveled west into the hills of Samaria to arrive at Shechem (modern-day Nablus), which is an archaelogical park of the Shechem ruins. You are looking at the sun setting over Mount Gerazim. Dr. Stone is leading our group to the ruins for our final site of the day.
 Ryane is sitting on an ancient standing stone of some type.
 Rhonda is checking out the 'temple' area, with remainders of columns visible.
Shechem sits in a pass between 2 mountains: Mount Gerazim, and also Mount Ebal which you see here above the dwellings. In Joshua chapter 8, Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal...half the people stood on Ebal and half on Gerazim, and he led a renewal of their covenant with the Lord from that place. Later this semester I will be returning to Mount Ebal to see what they believe is the actual altar that Joshua built there, discovered just a few year ago.

 Alana is waving, standing next to a huge stone which has been there since the time of Joshua...we are talking more than 3000 years ago!!
 Believe it or not, these were the gates to the city of Shechem at one time. 
 I turned around while Dr. Stone was talking about the gates, I snapped this pic of the olive tree right behind me.
 Just outside the fence (that you see here) that surrounds the archeological site, is a refugee camp, and here a man and little girl are staring at the Americans who are looking at the piles of rocks.
 At the very end of the day, Nate did a beautiful job of reciting Joshua Chapter 24. It was a very special moment.  You might want to take a look at Chapter 24 to see what he had memorized, and then take a listen below:

 We are standing on a street in Shechem, waiting for the bus driver to come back and unlock the bus. The mountain in the distance is Mount Gerazim, and there is a Samaritan temple up there.
 So where did that bus driver go??
Looking up above the street, I see this Dad and two little kids peering out the window, here they are waving back at me. They are enjoying looking out the window at the Americans waiting by the bus.

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