Snippits From My Israel Journal
Occasionally I share from the journal I kept in Israel. Today’s story is about an amazing opportunity that came to me while in Jerusalem.
When I was in my late 20's, my neighbor invited me to go with her to a Women’s Bible Study. I not only studied the gospel of Matthew, I met a personal Jesus, The Living Word. A whirlwind of revival broke out in my community, and I got swept under the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I couldn’t put my Bible down.
I bought a study Bible with maps and charts and resources. Then I enrolled in an archeology course by video with college credits and couldn’t wait for the children to nap so I could dig in. No pun intended. Completion of the course featured an archeological tour in Israel with my professor who taught Hebrew at the University of Texas. I acted like a swooning teenager when I met him in person. He was a storehouse of knowledge and had the ability to talk non-stop in our mini-bus every day from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. as we traveled to various destinations only stopping for lunch and potty breaks!
Today, I’m sharing a little about Zippori, Hebron and Jerusalem.
Christian tradition teaches that Zippori is the hometown of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We were told that findings of a “Mikvaot,” a ritual bath, confirm that a Jewish community resided here. Remains were found also from churches, synagogues, water reservoirs and theaters. We were taken into the remains of a crusader castle. I was fascinated by the magnificent mosaics.
There were twelve of us in all including the teacher and his Jewish buddy, Moshe, an Israeli man who drove our mini bus. My professor, pleasing and personal, struck up a conversation with me while we were in Jerusalem and asked me what I might choose if I could visit any city in Israel?
I replied that I would choose Hebron. At that time it was not as dangerous as it is today, but still it was Arab territory and off limits to tour groups. I thought it would be neat to pray at Machpelah, the grave sites of the patriarchs and matriarchs: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Leah. My teacher looked sober and replied: “Let me think about this.”
Two mornings later, we met at 8:00 a.m. but did not board the comfortable, air-conditioned mini bus. Moshe pulled up in a blue Palestinian old beat up bus with paisley curtains that were to remain closed. Our vehicle traveled in disguise (so rocks wouldn’t be thrown at us) and we headed south to Hebron. I got to see the Machpelah caves, but we were clearly under the authority of the Hamas who gave the presentation. I felt intimated and only took a few photos. We were instructed that we would be safe to visit that day “as long as we did it right.”
I learned that my Professor spoke fluently in Arabic, too! This astonished the Hamas who were not used to tour groups speaking their language. We submitted to their lead and we silently listened!
On the 46 Km bus ride back to Jerusalem, our professor gave us the Judeo-Christian version of what we viewed. He gave me my heart’s desire and in my eyes, emulated intelligence and adventure! Little me in Hebron; what a thrill I will never forget; I must have thanked him a hundred times!
These two photos give you an idea of Machpelah, the building over the patriach’s graves with its Herodian architecture on the outside and also the interior mosque. This site in Hebron is where Abraham purchased land to bury his family.
In Jerusalem we walked on the walls of the city. Great views! I photographed the Old City from the wall. The Israeli man is praying at David’s Tomb.
I close with a photo of the Garden Tomb. I don’t get caught up in the controversy of the exact spot of Jesus' burial like some scholars argue. Whereas our patriarchs are dead and buried in the Machpelah Caves, Jesus is no longer in His grave. He rose from the dead just as the scriptures said.
I'm linking today to the website: Tell Me A True Story.