Day#5 Finally Above Sea Level!
Today was a first for our group, in a couple of ways. One, the sun was shining and there was no rain! Secondly, we traveled through Tiberias and up to Mount Arbel, finally rising above sea level! 594 feet, above sea level, to be exact!
Mount Arbel is a mountain that is in lower Galilee. It is near the city of Magdala. From its peak you have views of the snow-capped mountains of Mount Hermon, the Golan Heights, caves, practically all of the Sea of Galilee, along with its surrounding towns and villages. Typically, tours of Galilee take you to Mount Arbel before you visit the costal cities. Due to the rainy weather, we went up Mount Arbel afrerwards. I actually think it was more helpful to our group to wrap-up and review what we have learned about Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Tiberias, and Magdal, perched upon the mountain. Remember, 25 of Jesus' 34 recorded miracles were done right here, around the Sea of Galilee.
Valley of the Doves
As we looked over the cliffs of Mount Arbel, we could see Mount Nitai to the north. In-between these two mountains is a valley called "The Valley of the Wind (otherwise known as "The Valley of the Doves"). The valley runs east to west and is a route to the Mediterranean Sea. Many of the Biblical, historical sites are built over by ornate buildings. So, you can only imagine what it was like where Jesus walked. This valley is different. These mountains and these valleys haven't been renovated or upgraded.
Jesus, no doubt, walked in this valley. And, it looked very similar as it did today, Wednesday, February 8, 2023.
Next on our itinerary was the city of Dan in the northernmost section of Israel. In fact, Biblical writers would describe the entirety of Israel, north to south, with a shorthand phrase, "from Dan to Bathsheeba." (Judges 20:1; I Sam. 3:20; II Sam. 3:10;17:11;24:2,15;I Kings 4:25)
Dan was the fifth son of Jacob's twelve sons. He was the second son of Rachel's handmaid, Bilhah. The tribe of Dan was originally allotted some prime real estate near the coastland of the Mediterranean. But the Philistines resisted the Danites from fully taking the land. Rather than believing God and His promises to drive the Philistines out of the land, they looked for "greener pastures" up north. They sent out a group for reconnaissance and ultimately took the land from some Canaanites who had named the city Laish. They stole Micah's idols, hired a unemployed levite, and worshipped false gods and idols.
Much later when the kingdom of Israel was divided, the first king of Israel, Jeroboam, set up idols in Dan. On the foundation of the Canaanite pagan temple, Jeroboam built a temple with golden calves. He did this in order that the people would not return to Jerusalem to worship the Lord, for fear they would return to the reign of Rehoboam.
Pagan Temples Repurposed for Idol Worship under Jeroboam
Interestingly, Dan is not mentioned in Revelation 7 although all the other tribes are mentioned among the 144,000. Perhaps this is judgment due to their constant idolatry?
Dan discovered a spring of water that is called the Dan river. It, along with two other rivers feed the Jordan River. Actually, the Hebrew for Jordan means "flowing from Dan." So, the city of Dan was always a gateway to anyone who entered the land of Israel.
A Canaanite gate from the time of Abraham has been discovered in Dan. Abraham would have come through this gate when he initially entered the land from Ur of the Chaldees. He also returned through this gate, years later to rescue his nephew, Lot.
Another gate has been discovered. This is the gate to Israel (the Northern tribes) after the Kingdom was divided. This gate into Israel in the North would have been built around the 8th Century B.C.
Then we were off to Caesarea Philippi. The city was originally called Panion or Panias after the Greek god Pan. Herod the Great's son, Philip, established it as the capital of his tetrarchy and named it Caesarea to honor the emperor of Rom. It was known as Caesarea Philippi to distinguish it from other Caesarea along the coast of the Mediterranean.
Tel Dan Stele
Also, in the courtyard of this gate was a pretty neat discovery. It is called the stele of David Tel Dan's Gate. It is a large engraved stone-an ancient basalt stele-that gives hard evidence that King David was no King Arthur legend of Hebrew lore. It's a record of a foreign king who actually defeated Israel and perhaps Judah in battle. It is quite possibly the most significant and perhaps the only extra-biblical archeological reference to the house of David.
We have one mention in Scripture of Jesus entering Caesarea Philippi.
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" (Matthew 16:13)
In the midst of the idolatry in this city, Jesus asks His disciples of their view of His person.
We finished the day driving over the Golan Heights. Our tour guide detailed for us the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War and how Israel took control of the Golan Heights. It was fascinating. I think we all have a new respect for the Israeli Military. While driving through the Golan Heights, we actually saw something we haven't really seen in PA this year:
We finished tonight with hearing Lucy and Gilberto's testimony of salvation. What a blessing!
Tomorrow we are off to the Jordan River and the Dead Sea!
Thanks for being interested in trip!