Around the Sea of Galilee

At the Sea of Galilee we stayed at a very nice guest house (in Arbel, 2km North from Tiberias, which is on the West side of the lake).

On Wednesday September 16 we drove around the Sea of Galilee. We visited Magdala, the village where Mary Magdalene (Mary of Magdala) came from. We couldn't find the ruins of the old city though, but drive to the new city built next to it. We also stopped at a museum that had on display a boat used by fishermen on this lake about 2,000 years ago.

It's about 8.2 metres long. It took ten years to prepare it for display, after it had been found when a portion of the Lake fell dry.

Some boat on the lake. You don't see many boats actually, usually it's just empty.

It was again incredibly hot, so we spend hours and hours at a beach. Beaches are not free, we had to pay 50 shekels for the whole family. And the water was warm, so warm you could stay in it for hours. Probably 34 degrees or more perhaps.

Everyone got quite burned.

After a couple of hours we decided to continue our drive. We know have a good idea how large the lake is, and where things are, such as Caperneum, where the sermon on the mount might have been, where the possessed man of Gadara was, and so on.

This is almost back at the guest house, where an interesting rock formation shows the northern tip of the lake through a crack in the hill.

Back at our little home, waiting for dinner to start (Ida had prepared macaroni).

Driving to Tiberias

On Tuesday morning, September 15, we could sleep in. Bit of a rest day. At 11am we left the Montefiore hotel and drove to Tiberias through the Jordan valley towards Tiberias. Here the Southern tip of the Sea of Galilee.

And here the Northern tip with the high rise buildings of Tiberias on the right.

And one more picture, taken from the car park of a big supermarket, where we did our shopping.

Jerusalem to Jericho

In the afternoon of Monday September 14 we went to Jericho, by car. According to reports we've read, the West Bank wasn't really accessible, but all we can say, it seemed to be very safe. There is no sign of trouble, and Israeli cars just use the motorway. We didn't want to take the car into Jericho though, just drive to the border.

The motorway to Jericho is full of surprises though. For example you can visit the inn of the Good Samaritan...

We also came past the Wadi Qelt, which we entered, Ida with much fear and trembling, but it all appeared safe. The Wadi Qelt is some kind of oasis on the old road from Jerusalem to Jericho. This is at the beginning.

Ida did the driving.

You see the road a bit behind the Greek Orthodox Monastery St. George:

The monastery itself appeared completely deserted.

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho is quite a bit down. Jerusalem itself is at 1500 metres below see level, while Jericho is about 258 metres below see level. This is the point where we were at see level.

And here we see the Dead Sea again. This is the Northern tip of course, where the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea. Not sure if much water from the Jordan flows into the Dead Sea right now actually:

Israelis may not enter Jericho, by Israeli law. We parked our car here, and started walking towards Jericho. Within minutes a cab stopped and with 4 people in the back seat and me in the front, we drove towards the ruins of Joshua's Jericho.

We must say the people in Jericho were very nice. Certainly not like Egypt, where they tend to be annoyingly persistent. Here they were friendly and didn't ask outrageous prices.

The ruins itself are not very interesting, at first sight. But archeology actually has clearly proved that what Joshua described, happened as he described it. The only problem is that archeologist try very hard to put the wrong dates on things. But luckily we have biblical archeologist. If you're interested, this is a good article on the ruins of old Jericho.

You can see the ruins of Jericho in this picture, taken when we went up the supposed mountain of Temptation. It's the small sand hill, right in the middle of the picture, just after the first house.

The monastery on the cliff is the monastery of the temptation. This is supposedly the mountain of temptation, where the devil brought Jesus. We found that unlikely. We're below sea level here, so this mountain is a tiny hill above sea level, not likely to be the "exceeding high mountain" mentioned by Matthew.

Date palm in Jericho.

And then a picture few will have seen with their own eyes. Next to the ruins of old Jericho, opposite the road actually, to the East, is Elisha's well or spring. But there's no sign. I asked the shop owner where we were drinking lemon juice, and he asked his young assistant to go with me. We went to a shed next to his shop, and the boy convinced the labourers to open it, and I could go inside. This is supposedly the well where Elisha cast salt in, to purify it (at the far end of this picture, I could see the water coming up). And this is the actual location where the water comes out of the ground. The cities water supply is still coming mostly from this spring.

This was taken on the way back from Jericho to Jerusalem, dwellings of bedouins.

Boy on ass, just waiting to cross the motorway.

Greatest American of the 20th century died Saturday

Wall Street Journal:

Norman Borlaug arguably the greatest American of the 20th century died late Saturday after 95 richly accomplished years. The very personification of human goodness, Borlaug saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived. He was America's Albert Schweitzer: a brilliant man who forsook privilege and riches in order to help the dispossessed of distant lands. That this great man and benefactor to humanity died little-known in his own country speaks volumes about the superficiality of modern American culture.


Hezekiah's tunnel

After climbing the Mount of Olives, we walked to the city of David (the old old city, North of and adjacent tothe current old city), and went into Hezekiah's tunnel (also Siloam tunnel). Hezekiah built this tunnel to make the water supply secure. It leads from the Gihons spring to Siloam's pool. It's just wide enough for one man. The height varies a bit. Sometimes you can stand, sometimes you have to bow for a while. Basically you walk 533 metres through the dark if you turn of your flash light. Which the kids did, they wanted to walk through the dark. Not for claustrofobic people!

The water is between 20cm to about 55cm or so, so you wade through water.

Climbing the mount of Olives

On Monday the plan was to walk up to the top of the mount of Olives. We wanted to start early, but take the car to the Mount of Olives, so we didn't have to walk the first part. Unfortunately navigating the car to the right spot proved quite difficult, so took almost an hour, while a walk would have been just 15 minutes. But our feet were sore enough.

The walkway here crosses the Kidron brook (nothing left of that brook though). It goes to the city of David, the original Jerusalem, while the Jerusalem we see today dates from after that (Solomon already expanded it quite a bit). The valley itself is called Jehoshaphat valley, although not so in the Bible. It's first called this way in 333 AD.

And this is from the other side, towards the mount of Olives.

According to a sign this was the location of the garden of Gethsemane. There's a big church as well, which we didn't visit. But we took a picture of the olive trees. Obviously the Mount of Olives took its name from the many olive trees that used to cover it. But that's no longer the case.

When you walk up the mount of Olives, you can clearly see the Golden Gate. As you can see, it is sealed off. According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. That's why the Muslims sealed it off.

They even built a graveyard in front of it to prevent the precursor of the Messiah, Elijah, from passing through it.

Here with a bit more context, i.e. with the Dome of the Rock on the left, and the Golden Gate on the right.

Jews like to be buried on the Mount of Olives as they also believe this is where the resurrection will take place.

And us here on the top of the mount of Olives.

This is what you see on the top. It's an Arab neighboorhood>

If you see this, the word of the angels "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." or Zechariah's "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south" look very remote. But perhaps as remote as was the return of the Jews to their own country when John Gill wrote, in the latter half of the 18th century: "but it brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them; that is, the people of the Jews, the proprietors of the land of Israel, shall now be brought forth out of each the nations where they are scattered, and shall inhabit their own land, and dwell in the utmost security, having nothing to fear from their most potent enemies, even Gog himself; and though he shall come against them in the following manner. ..." He wrote that, while the actual event was still 200 years in the future. And we live in the times where this prophecy has been fullfilled.

The other side of the Mount of Olives. Not very clear, but I could see the Judean desert starting over there.

After we went down the hill, across the Kidron brook to the city of David.

Olijfberg, Hizkia's tunnel, Jericho

Nog een dag: Olijfberg opgeklommen.

Hizkia's tunnel doorgelopen: Het ondergrondse gangenstelsel waar water doorstroomd en waar de Israelieten hun drinkwater vandaan haalden. Gegraven op bevel van Hizkia. Het was pikkedonker, de tunnel was maar 533m. lang. maar we deden er 40 min. over om erdoor te komen. Gelukkig is het zomer, zodat het waterpeil laag was. Op sommige stukken was het 60 cm. diep. Heerlijk even afkoelen! We zagen ook de naastgelegen schacht die door David schijnt gebruikt te zijn toen hij Jebus(Jeruzalem) veroverde.

Eind van de middag naar Jericho gereden (eindelijk de auto gebruikt, de blaren op de voeten moesten even rust hebben)

Het oude Jericho is niet veel meer van over. Eerst zijn we nog naar de Wadi Kwelt gereden - we dachten dat daar de oude stad lag. Maar het was een afgelogen oase in de woestijn van Judea. Toch mooi dat we dat gezien hebben, enkele bedoeienen wezen ons de weg hoe we moesten rijden. Een niet al te goed berijdbare weg....Uiteindelijk lazen we later dat daar de weg van Jeruzalem naar Jericho vroeger gelopen heeft. Goed in te denken dat daar veel struikrovers zaten!

Jericho ligt in de westbank. Palestijns gebied dus. Ons was geadviseerd om de auto bij de grenspost te laten staan en vandaar een Palestijnse taxi te nemen. Dit hebben we dus ook gedaan en een heel aardig taxichauffeur pikte ons op in de hitte van 38 graden. Hij wilde zelfs geen eens een fooi!

Even in Jericho rondgelopen en nog een kabelbaan naar boven genomen. Zogenaamd naar de Berg van de Verzoeking. Maar daar klopt niks van. Je hebt vandaar wel een prachtig uitzicht over de Dode Zee en de Jordaanvlakte, maar het is over de laagste plek ter wereld. 200 m. onder zeeniveau! Meer waarschijnlijk is aan de overkant, over de Jordaan waar je uitzicht over heel Israel hebt.

Vandaar weer een taxi naar de grenspost. Deze keer was er verschrikkelijk veel Palestijnse leger/politie op de been. Echt dreigend. Je bent dan toch weer blij om op Israelisch grondgebied te zijn. Al is het de laatste 8 jaar heel erg rustig.

De muren van Jerusalem

We zijn helemaal over de muren van Jerusalem gelopen. Echt de moeite waard. Je krijgt zo een goed overzich over de oude stad, als over de heuvels buiten Jerusalem. We hebben er ongeveer 3.5 uur over gedaan om erover te lopen. Het is maar 4.2 km. Maar elke keer weer even kijken, veel trapjes op en af. En vooral de hitte maakt het dat je het langzaamaan doet.

Het Bijbelse Jerusalem is helemaal niet zo groot als we gedacht hebben. Ik denk dat ons idee van steden, in onze tijd, heel anders is dan toen. Hetzelfde geldt voor Jericho, waar we de ruines van het oude Jericho bekeken hebben. Het was echt geen grote stad.

De wandeling over de muren gaf ons een goed idee van alle poorten. We zagen onder ons het dal van Hinnom (waar de kinderoffers gebracht werden) en aan de zuidkant het Kidron dal. Achter het Kidron dal ligt de Olijfberg. Je kunt dus goed zien hoe je vanuit de Gouden Poort door het Kidron dal de Olijfberg op kon lopen. Alleen is de Gouden Poort nu dichtgemetseld door de Moslims, omdat ze denken dat Christus daar bij de wederkomst binnen zal komen. Voor de poort is een grote Moslimbegraafplaats. Terwijl aan de overkant tegen de Olijfberg allemaal Joden begraven liggen die denken dat ze dan Christus als eerste zullen zien........

Ook zijn we op onze wandeling door de stad alle poorten doorgegaan: De Damascus poort, Mestpoort, Leeuwenpoort,  Heroduspoort, Jaffa Poort, Sionspoort.

Het oude Jerusalem

De En-gedi watervallen en poelen liggen alweer wat dagen achter ons. maar dat was echt een hoogtepunt. En zeer zeker het 'zwemmen' in de Dode Zee. Je kunt echt niet zwemmen, als je dat probeert wordt je buik gewoon omhoog geduwd en kantel je. Een gekke ervaring. Je kunt er in elk geval niet verdrinken :-).

Wat punten over Jerusalem:

De oude stad -binnen de muren dus- doorgewandeld. Bijna een hele dag over gedaan. Begonnen in de 'Soekh' - een mix van Joodse en Arabische stalletjes met 1000-den souveniers. En maar afdingen :-) Anne Roos en ik hebben elk een prachtige rok gekocht. De man vroeg er samen 360 Shekels voor. Uiteindelijk hebben we ze voor 180Shekels gekocht. Berend had medelijden met de arme man.........(vroeger vond ik het vreselijk als m'n vader aan het afdingen was, kheb toch wat van je geleerd pa) De volgende dag wilde Dieuwe graag nog een mini-schaakspel kopen. We zijn samen op pad geweest en dachten als we nou een paar dingen tegelijk kopen kunnen we vast een mooi prijsje krijgen. Bij de eerste Arabier werd ik al uitgescholden dat ik m'n vaderland beledigde. We zeggen ook altijd dat we uit NZ komen en nooit uit NL, want dan vragen ze gelijk 3x meer. Maar helaas, ik was toch wat te hard voor de beste man. Nou, dan maar naar de volgende. Dieuwe begon er ook plezier in te krijgen. Hij heeft een schaaksetje gekocht, maar begon op een gegeven moment een ruilhandeltje toen hij bij een ander een mooiere zag. Hij heeft het alleen niet voor elkaar kunnen krijgen;-(

Op de eerste dag dus het Joodse kwartier gelopen: mooi, oud, stil, schoon, Joodse jongens aan het spelen, veel orthodoxe Joden in de straten.

Toen het Arabische kwartier: druk, lawaaiig, vies, kruidige geuren, gesluierde vrouwen, goedkoop eten.

Daarna het Christelijke stadsdeel: toeristisch, ene kerkgebouw na het andere, kruisdragers, mooi historisch gedeelte met de Poel van Bethesda. Ze hadden daar opgravingen gedaan en het eigenlijke Jerusalem in de tijd van Jezus ligt dus wel 6 meter onder de huidige stad.

Je hebt ook nog een Armeens gedeelte, maar daar zijn we de volgende dag doorheen gelopen.


Even onthouden hoe ze Falafel maken hier, kan ik het thuis ook proberen, misschien met bitterballen/gehaktballen/kipfilet.

Pita broodje, besmeren met hummus, vullen met: sla, tomaat, komkommer, augurk, bietjes, uien, kool, aubergine, gekookte ei, geraspte wortel, en zelfs patatjes, daarna sausje erover.

Hier Auke, hij eet Shoarma, maar ook in een pita broodje.

En dan zonder flits:

sabbatsrust in Jerusalem

Even iets opmerkelijks over de Sabbath hier in Jerusalem. Ik had al geschreven dat die vrijdagavond een uur voor zonsondergang begint. Vanaf dan is het ook helemaal stil. Geen auto's, geen bussen, alle winkels dicht. En in hotels (ons hotel dus ook) is er een speciale sabbats-lift-systeem. De liften stoppen op elke verdieping, de deuren gaan open voor zo'n 20 sec. en gaan automatisch weer dicht. Zonder dat iemand een knopje hoeft in te drukken.Het duurt dus een hele tijd voor je op de 10e verdieping bent :-) dit allemaal omdat de Joden niet mogen werken/geen vuur mogen maken.

Last of Jerusalem

I am now in the car driving (I'm not the one driving) to Tiberias. We just left Jerusalem behind us. Here is what we have been up to for the last few days.



We went to the (Presbyterian) Scottish Memorial Church. It wasn't Scottish Presbyterian though, more Anglican. We met an American student who was studying Biblical languages in Jerusalem. In the evening we went to the King of Kings Church, a Charismatic Church. but the words in the songs and the message was good.


We stated by walking up the Mount of Olives. It was a very steep climb and the mounain is littered with graves. Next we went to the City of David, the place where it is beleived David build his city after capturing Jebus. There we went into the tunnels of Hezekiah. The tunnels were pitch black filled with up to 70cm of water and are 533 meters long. It took us 40 minutes to walk through, and I got my shoes and shorts soaked. Next we went to Jerico. It is controlled by the Palestinians, so we left our car at the Isreali checkpoint and got a taxi. All that is left of the old city is a heap of dust. There was nothing much left to see, apart from a few rubbish signs giving wrong dates to everything because some arceologist dug up the wrong part of the city. It was actually quite small, most of the time you think of the Isrealites attacking some really large city. We also went with a cable car to the "Mount of Temptation" as they call it. On our way out, it seemed the whole Palestinians army was on the streets. Now I know the difference with actually feeling safe and being scared. In Jerusalem, 10% of the people you see carry machine guns, but you feel safe with so many soldiers and police around. For one, they have their weapons slung over their shoulders, the Palastinians have their fingers on the triggers. In Isreal the police act like normal people. We drove bakc to Jerusalem and had dinner. Falafel is what you eat here, it's the only cheap food in the country. It is made of pitta bread, humus, pickles, onions, cabbage, anything else you might want in it, and a ball made of really nice stuff (I don't know what it is, but it tastes good).

Jesus or Yeshua?

It is remarkable how many people are using the name Yeshua in Israel, where they mean Jesus. At first I didn't give this much attention, but then I started to wonder? Is this correct? What is Jesus' name? The reasoning behind using the name Yeshua is this, that Jesus was called Yeshua originally, but when his name was transcribed into Greek it ended up as Iēsoûs (Greek Ἰησοῦς).

Up to this point I have not quoted a single Bible text. It's all conjecture. But the Bible should be our only rule for faith. So are we actually allowed to use the name Yeshua? The name of the Messiah is never given in the Old Testament. Yeshua is spelled יֵשׁוּעַ in Hebrew. This spelling occurs in the Old Testament in Ezra 2:2 and Nehemiah 7:7 for example.

How reasonable is it to assume that Jezus was called Yeshua? We simply don't know if that even happened. It might, it might not. How do we know that Jezus is a transliteration of Yeshua? That I find even very unlikely. In New Testament times people often had two names: a Hebrew (or perhaps Aramaic) one, and a Greek or Latin one. For example we have Saul/Paul, Thomas/Didymus, Bartholomew/Nathanael.

But we also have Philip (Philippos) and John, no Hebrew names known. Given that only the name Jezus has been delivered to us, the text in Luke 1:31 "thou ... shalt call his name JESUS," and given the text in Acts 4:12 "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" I must conclude that we have no Biblical warrant for using the name Yeshua and should therefore not do so.

UPDATE: Based on Jaco's comments, I've modified the section where I said the spelling wasn't found in the Old Testament.

Walking the ramparts, North, East and South

The Sabbath begins here with sunset, i.e. Friday September 11, at about 18:15. A siren sounds all over the city which indicates the start of the Sabbath. Almost every shop is closed. So Saturday September 12 was also very quiet. But one of the hottest days so far: 36℃

We wanted to do the second part of the ramparts and start early, so at 9am we were at the Jaffa gate again.

On the wall, looking eastward.

The roofs of Jerusalem, a bit different than 2,000 years ago I imagine.

The ever present Dome of the Rock, built on the mountain of Moriah, the mountain where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, and where later the temple was built.

The Damascus gate, from the top:

And the street leading up to the Damascus gate:

The domes of the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The location we visited yesterday. As you can see in the face of the hill you see a skull.

On the southern part of the wall, looking West.

The garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the mountain of Olives.

With extravagant churches.

Cairo, Eilat, Ein Gedi, Jerusalem

I will write about everything since the last time I wrote (which was the first day in Cairo, a Thursday last week).



We visited the Museum of Egyptain History (it's not called that, but that is what it is). It was interresting. We also visited the Coptic erea of Cairo and went to the Hanging Chruch (it's called that because there is nothing underneath it).


We drove to Isreal with a bus. First our driver broke down and a passenger drove. Next we switched into another bus. This bus broke down. We switched back into the bus with our sick driver. Next we switched to another bus, and that one got us all the way there. We went to Eilat and swam in the Red Sea.


We stayed in The Shelter Hostel, they have a Bible Study every day. A few Jews, but mostly tourists attend. They have a minister from America.


We got our rental car and drove to Ein Gedi. We stopped in Timna Park where we saw a reconstruction of the Tabernacle. There where also lots of natural formations like arches and pillars. It was very fun to climb those things.


We started with a swim in the Dead Sea. You float no matter what you do, the feeling is funny. Next we went to the Ein Gedi Park. We had a nice walk and lots of swims (because it is really hot here). There are 4 springs in the park, the David Spring was very long with about 6 swimming places. After walking through a dessert in 40 degrees, it's nice to swim.


We went to the park early and stayed there the whole day. We walked a lot more than the previous day. We went up the cliffs to the source of the David spring and passed 2 other springs on the way and swam. In the afternoon we drove to Jerusalem.


We went into the old city and walked around it. There are many small streets and shops line the roads. We also went to the Garden Tomb, which is an old tomb in a garden, a place like the one Jesus would have been buried in.


We walled around half of the old city wall built by Suleman about 500 years ago to stop another Crusade. I went to the Great Synagogue with my mum to look around, it was a large place. The way they worship is interresting, with a lot of movement like standing, bowing, and turning around.


We walked around the second half of the wall. We were planning to go to the beach close to Tel Aviv, but the carpark was closed beause it is Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath).

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