The beginning of another day of adventure. Today we were heading west and then south. There would be a lot of driving and walking and climbing, but that adds to the enjoyment of the journey. We were reminded that a trip consists of more than just arrival at a destination, it also includes the travel there and back.
Our first stop of the day was at an overlook of tel Bet Shemesh. As we climbed out the buses this tree was ready to welcome us.
The buses are parked down along the Highway.
This valley goes all the way from the coastal plains of the Philistine cities in the west to the Judean hills to the east.
The ancient city of Beit Shemesh was originally named after a Canaanite sun-goddess.
It is first mentioned in the Joshua 15 as a city in the territory between the tribes of Judah and Dan. Later in Joshua 21 it is set aside as a city for the priests of the tribe of Levi.
As the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel by the Philistines, the first city the cart and oxen encountered was here.
Beth loves the flowers.
Some of the old ruins.
Olga giving us the history and facts.
After this we loaded back on the buses and headed for out next stop for the day.
Above. Here we are at our next stop the Valley of Elah. We are walking parallel with Highway to the base of the hill in the distance.
The Valley of Elah is the location where David and Goliath had their epic battle in approximately the year 1000 B.C., 3000 years ago.
Here we have different people reading for each character of the famous battle.
Beautiful flowers in the valley.
We are picking up our 5 smooth stones as souvenirs. Don't worry, Israel will not run out of rocks any time soon.
Here we are heading back to the buses to depart for our next stop. Everyone's returning luggage will be a little heavier because of the rocks.
Above - At Bet Govrin-Maresha National Park getting ready to do some adventuring.
Here we are climbing down into the "Polish Cave".
Notice the niches that were carved into the cistern walls. These were used to raise pigeons. Polish soldiers during WWII visited the cave and carved a message into the pillar that supports the ceiling.
Here we are heading into another cave. This one was dug in the 3rd Century BC.
It was dark down here. The sign below states that there were pigeons kept in here as well. They used their droppings for fertilizer.
These birds were very entertaining to watch.
A carob tree with its fruit shown below. Several people tried it to see how it tasted.
More beautiful flowers.
The birds put on quite a show when there is water around. Water is precious in this country.
Entrance to another cave. The temperature was much cooler down here and a welcome relief!
I made it out of the cave!
The Bell Caves were big! They do have concerts here.
This was a neat cave.
There were bats living in the cave.We saw a few.
These caves had some neat features. Above notice the hole in the top.
When the sun was just right, a person who stood in the right place would glow in light.
Leaving the cave.
Next stop lunch. Here we ate and relaxed along the Highway. The filling stations always intrigued us.
Israeli Army Vehicles
Our next stop Beersheba, the largest city in the southern part of Israel. Beersheba was the southern border of ancient Israel. (... from Dan to Beersheba.)
Israeli Aloe Vera Plants
Notice the Hard Hats. They warned us of falling rocks.
Modern city in background
There are camels in the distant pasture.
This cave was difficult to find something to hold onto. Thank goodness for the guard rail.
This was an alter that we passed just before we left.
The naming of Beersheba above.
Some days when riding on the bus, sometimes after lunch, Olga would read to us from a Jewish Folk Tale book that she carried. These were good stories, but sometimes I would go to sleep in the air conditioned bus and miss some of the story. Naps are more fun as we get older.
Of all the folk tales that she read this was my favorite:
Learning Wisdom by Observation
The princess has a caged bird, beautiful, but so sad to be held captive. He has heard that the prince will be traveling and ask him to convey his regards if the prince sees another bird that looks like him. The prince returns one month later and tells the caged bird that he did see his cousin and passed along the message. However, after he did, the bird immediately fell out of his tree. The prince reports that when he approached, the ?dead? bird flew away. The next morning, the princess finds her bird lying, apparently dead, at the bottom of his golden cage. She has him removed. Once the bird is outside the cage, he flies out the window, wonderfully free to spread his wings in a trick he learned from his cousin far away.
Remember when Jesus was talking with the two men on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection? This is the place.
Two men were walking to Emmaus discussing the events that morning of their group of believers. The women who went to Christ burial site had found the tomb empty. The eleven apostles did not believe what the women had found and thought their words were nonsense. Then Peter finally ran to the tomb to check their report and found it was true.The event of Christ Crucifixion was so overpowering just days before that their minds just could not consider him being alive. There was a buzz of interest spreading all over Jerusalem about Christ's body not being in the tomb. It was on the road to here that Christ came up beside these men as they walked and explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. As Christ ate with them they recognized him and Christ disappeared.
Luke 24:32 says: "... Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us!"
The Byzantine Basilica of Emmaus Nicopolis (5th-7th c. AD), restored by Crusaders during the 12th c.
Just after the two men recognized Jesus, he then disappeard and then they went back immediately to Jerusalem to tell the eleven that Jesus was alive and had appeared to them. When they had returned, Jesus appeared to them and ate fish with them and then he told them the following:
Luke 24:44 He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.
Luke 24:45 - 47 Then he opened their minds so that could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in this name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. "
The end of another day. Now back to the Hotel.