We travelled to the northern border where Israel meets Lebanon, to an historical site called Tel Dan. We toured ruins from the Canaanite period, including a gate that Abraham very likely walked through! Tel Dan is also the location of the head waters of the Jordan River system, which means it is lush and green. The sound of rushing water was startling in a relatively dry land. We drove on a littler farther to Caesarea Philippi, the site where Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” This conversation very likely took place in view of an array of temples and shrines to other gods. This led to an interesting conversation about monotheism, and when it began in the Israelite tradition.
We drove back toward the Nazareth area, stopping in Cana for lunch. A typical lunch includes falafel or schwarma in a pita, and a drink. Our bus driver is great at suggesting places that can serve a busload of people quickly! After lunch we went to Zippori, the sight of Roman ruins. Here you can actually see the cart and chariot ruts worn into the remains of the Roman road! There are many remarkably well preserved stone tile mosaics at this sight, including in the synagogue floor. Zippori was constructed in the first century, so there is a distinct possibility that Jesus’ father Joseph, may have worked on this site as a builder.
At the sight of the synagogue we stopped to discuss the Pharisees, and how they are portrayed in the gospels. Modern Judaism traces its origins back to the Pharisees, who preserved Judaism after the destruction of the temple, by teaching the Torah and establishing synagogues. As Derek explained to us, the Christian perspective of Pharisees in scriptures is kind of like the history of the Toronto Maples Leafs written by a Habs fan!
We had a feast for our last night at the Antique Hostel in Nazareth. The food has been so generous and flavourful. We have thoroughly enjoyed it!