I’ve recently returned from a two-week visit to Israel and Jordan, and my mind is still reeling from all I experienced. I’ll take each day of the trip for a separate blog post (with lots of pictures!) and invite you to travel with me as I look back on my time in the Holy Land.
The photo above shows a portion of the ancient walls surrounding the Old City area of Jerusalem. If I had to pick a favorite day, it would be the one spent visiting the holy places within these walls. But more about the sights of Old Jersualem later. I’ll start at the beginning of the trip, Tel Aviv.
Israel is both ancient and new. There are Roman ruins and Biblical sites, but the Israel of today was recognized as an independent state in 1948, only a few years after World War II. Tel Aviv is a showcase of modern Israel as can be seen by some of its architecture, a style called Bauhaus, which features clean, bold lines.
Over 4,000 Bauhaus-style buildings were constructed in Tel Aviv between 1920 and 1940 by German-Jewish architects who fled to the area after the rise of the Nazis.
Here’s an ariel view of Tel Aviv. Notice the crane on the right. The joke goes that there’s so much construction in many of the cities of Israel that the crane has been declared the national bird.
Tel Aviv is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline, and the weather was beautiful for the two days I was there. No time for lounging on the beach, though, as the first full day was packed with excursions.
A trip to the Valley of Elah was the first Biblical wow moment. This long, shallow valley has been identified, according to clues in the Bible, as the place where David slew Goliath.
There are plenty of rocks at the site. David, of course, would have used one of the smaller ones for the fatal ammunition in his slingshot.
We tourists were told we could pick up a few stones to take home. I chose two, which now rest on my desk in my office, a world away from the Valley of Elah in Israel.
A visit to the Monastery of the Trappist Monks in Latrun was next on the agenda. These monks take a vow of silence, so our presence was ignored.
The monks make wine, though, which is sold in a gift shop. Because of its name, I couldn’t resist buying this bottle. You may recall turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was our Lord’s first miracle. Incidentally, I’m sorry to say this wine was too sweet for me. I wonder how Jesus’ batch tasted.
The door of the church at the Trappist Monastery was still decorated with palms on the day I was there, the Tuesday after Palm Sunday.
The final excursion of the day was to the ancient port city of Jaffa, which is the oldest part of Tel Aviv. Jaffa is home to a couple of other wow Biblical sites. It was from Jaffa that Jonah sailed, trying to outrun God’s orders, was tossed from a boat, and swallowed by a big fish (many say a whale).
I don’t know whether the leviathan that swallowed Jonah looked as happy as this replica in Jaffa.
According to the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter raised Tabitha from the dead in Jaffa. St. Peter’s Church in Jaffa was built to honor this miracle.
On a historical note, Jaffa was the site of a battle fought between the Ottomans and Napoleon Bonaparte. Napoleon won. Here our Israeli tour guide stands by Napoleon’s statue. Above the English “Historical Site” is the Hebrew spelling of the words.
Yes, I really did take this trip. (Sometimes I, myself, can’t believe I was there.) I’m posing here beside the Gate of Faith on a hill in Jaffa, with a panoramic view of Tel Aviv behind me. The sculpture represents the gate of entry to the land of Israel. The different inscriptions depict Jacob’s dream, the sacrifice of Isaac, and the fall of Jericho.
My next post will cover the second day of the tour: Caesarea, Acre, and Haifa.