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Sharing July 15, 2014

Filed under: Gardening — bonniebeldanthomson @ 8:07 pm

It’s very difficult to avoid receiving a share of your neighbour’s weeds.

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An Invitation and An Adventure March 29, 2014

Filed under: Day by Day,Pre-Trip Journal — bonniebeldanthomson @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , , ,

This week I have written no Israel research because I’m writing an invitation instead.
Everyone who lives in the Toronto area is invited to an Israel information night next Tuesday, April 1. (This is not an April Fool’s joke!) Savour Middle Eastern snacks, chat, ask questions, borrow a book, enjoy Suzanne Wilkerson’s stunning pictures of the Holy Land. It’s at Malvern Presbyterian Church, 1301 Neilson Road,Scarborough, at 7:00 pm.
Tonight I’m also writing about an adventure I had, last night.
I was walking out of a movie theatre between well-lit rows of parked cars. As I came close to the place where I’d left my almost-new, shiny, black car, a movement caught my eye. A man wearing touque that came a bit above the roof of the car, was doing something at the door of a car that looked about as almost-new and shiny as mine. I put my thumb on the red “panic button” on my key and looked more closely. At that he ducked down as if he preferred not to be seen.
I pressed the button and an almost-new, shiny black car immediately to my left began to beep and flash its lights. “Whew!” I thought. “My car is not the target of a thief.”
I calmed it down, got inside and started the engine, then had a look at the other car. The engine was not running. There was no one in sight. But a single interior light beamed a thin, white line above the mirror.
“That’s odd,” I thought, then remembered the time I’d walked from the subway station to my car in a public lot to find the back window broken, ignition removed and set neatly on the console, engine running and hand brake engaged more tightly than I ever pulled it. I always wondered if my son and I scared off the thief or if he just didn’t know how to drive a standard transmission.
I pulled out of my parking spot and stopped behind that other car. Still that interior light burned. Still there was no sign of an occupant.
I waited. And while I waited I pulled out my gas receipt envelope, found a mechanical pencil and jotted down the license plate number. I was getting a little excited–broke the pencil lead twice.
Eventually I pulled away and as I did so, a knit capped head rose slowly above the right side of the driver’s seat.
Where to go? Kelsey’s was closer but the door was around the corner. I circled around to the front door of the theatre, stopped in a handicapped parking spot and dashed inside to the lone attendant.
“Is there a manager here?” I asked urgently.
He fumbled a bit with his answer as he scanned a coupon.
“Someone needs to call the police because I think a car is being stolen from the parking lot.”
“I’ll call the manager,” he said, as he handed the ticket to the waiting couple.
He did so, with no urgency whatsoever, then told me where I could meet her.
She asked me to point out the area of the parking lot in question and her GM would check it out. He was already there, communicating with her by ear buds. After a false start, we got him going down the correct row. He found the car and chatted with the man in question.
Meanwhile, the manager, a competent, nice lady, suggested that perhaps the driver in question lost his key, or was removing an anti-theft device. She has one on the pedal of her car.
After a bit she received a message from her GM saying everything was above board. The man was the owner of the car.
Emily, the manager, introduced herself, we shook hands and she thanked me for helping to keep the parking lot safe. I went on my way.
But I couldn’t help wondering…Was he really the owner? If so, why the suspicious behaviour? And if Emily really believed he was the owner, why did she write the license plate on her hand? I’ll never know for sure.
But enough about sordid reality. Better to think about beautiful reality. Son of God is the kind of movie that puts one in touch with the latter. Definitely faith inducing! And the historic and geographic details are fascinating for someone who plans to visit Israel this fall.

 

TIBERIAS March 19, 2014

Tiberius, established in 20 AD, is a modern Israeli city on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. It lies 200 metres below sea level.

In November we will join thousands of other tourists who visit here each year. I hope we’ll be served freshwater fish, right from the lake. Fishermen still go out in boats each morning, returning later with the day’s catch.

Twenty-seven species of fish swim in the lake. The best known is a type of tilapia known as St Peter’s Fish. Its Arabic name is musht, which means comb, because it has a comb-like tail. Matthew 17:24-27 records that Jesus told Peter to go fishing and to look in the mouth of the first fish he caught for a coin that would pay their Temple tax. The association is made because the female tilapia, which holds her eggs and young fish in her mouth, has been known to pick up small stones or other debris.

The marina is part of the Old City where there are many well-preserved buildings and ruins. One of these is the 18th century Church of St. Peter where the stained glass windows include fish as well as holy figures. Nearby, the Church of Scotland was built by Dr. David Watt Torrance who founded the first hospital in Tiberias. The Old City also has a Jewish ritual bath. A boardwalk promenade, which connects the Old City to modern Tiberias, is a collage of old and new: fishing boats, the pink and orange of sunset reflected in the lake, falafel stands, ice cream parlours, cafes, pubs, bazaars, music and the sound of many voices.

The area around Tiberias has been known since antiquity because of hot springs which reach 60 degrees Celsius and are infused with about 100 minerals. These have been traditional healing places for a variety of health issues, particularly skin ailments. Seventeen of these springs have been incorporated into Hamat Tiberias Nationa Park, south of the Old City, where there is also, of course a renowned spa overlooking the lake.

We will enjoy a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias to site of Capernaum. For more information about The Sea of Galilee Boat, also known as the Jesus Boat, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_of_Galilee_Boat.

 

Nazareth March 15, 2014

NAZARETH

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1:26,27)*

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up…all the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. (Luke 4: 16, 28, 29)*

And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:54, 58)*

Nazareth is a Galilean city at the northeastern end of the Jezreel Valley, in the shadow of Mount Tabor. The modern city encompasses an Old City which has narrow alleys, ornate Middle Eastern houses and many traditional Christian sites and churches.

The greater Nazareth area of the 21st century has a population of 210,000 of which 59% are Arabs and 41% are Jews. Of the Arab population, about 70% are Muslim, 30% are Christian.

Information about the biblical town of Nazareth is scanty. It was not until the late 1990s that excavations revealed remains dating from Roman times.

Since there was only one well, it can be concluded that Nazareth was a small village with a population of less than 500, perhaps only 200 people. The site of the well is now called Mary’s Well, although since 2000 it no longer serves as a well or fountain.

Christian pilgrimage to Nazareth began in the 4th century when Constantine built a church there.

At that time the most prominent tradition around Jesus’ life in Nazareth was the house where the angel Gabriel visited Mary. It is known as the Grotto of the Annunciation.

The Grotto of the Annunciation is part of the Church of the Annunciation, a Roman Catholic structure which was completed in 1966. It is the largest place of Christian worship in the Middle East. It was established at the location of previous churches, including one from 1730 and one from the time of the crusaders. The grotto contains fragments of a mosaic floor which dates from the 5th–6th century.

St. Gabriel’s Greek Orthodox Church holds to a different site for the annunciation. It is built over an underground spring where, it is believed, the Virgin Mary was drawing water when the angel Gabriel visited her. Water from the spring runs inside the church and feeds into the nearby site of Mary’s Well. The presence of a church in this location was recorded as early as 670.

Cana, the site of Jesus first miracle, is about 9 km from Nazareth. (John 2:1-11) Cana is also mentioned as the place where Jesus was visiting when he was asked to heal the son of the official at Capernaum. (John 4:46) Jesus’ disciple Nathanael, usually referred to as Bartholomew, was from Cana. (John 21:2)

The Jesus Trail is a pilgrimage route and hiking trail of about 65 km which begins in Nazareth, passes through Cana and continues on to the Sea of Galilee, the site of Capernaum and the Mount of the Beatitudes.

The Nazareth Village is an outdoor museum which represents village life during the time of Jesus. Actors in period costumes show how people lived and worked at then. This organization has produced a 12 minute DVD in which an animated, time travelling donkey tells the story of Jesus. For more information visit their website at http://www.nazarethvillage.com/

*All Scripture references from NRSV

Copyright: Bonnie Beldan-Thomson 2014

 

Pre-Trip Journal Entry #3: The Jezreel Valley February 20, 2014

The Jezreel Valley area of Israel, also referred to as the Plain of Esdraelon, covers about 380 km on the eastern side of Mount Carmel. To the north is Mount Tabor, to the east is Mount Gilboa, to the south are the highlands of Samaria.

The word “Jezreel” means El sows (God sows). This rich land, sometimes called the breadbasket of Israel, produces an abundance of table produce, wheat, cotton, sunflowers and much more. It also has many small reservoirs and fish ponds which, whether farmers like it or not, attract a wide range of migrating birds.

Sometimes the southwestern part of the Jezreel Valley near Mount Carmel is referred to as the Valley of Megiddo. Tel Megiddo is a site that dates back to antiquity when this was part of a major trading route and it contains ruins from 25 cities. Its location at one of the key entrances to the Jezreel also made it a site of strategic significance. King Solomon fortified it in the 10th century B.C. (1 Kings 9:15)

Armigeddon, referring to the area of Megiddo, is mentioned in Revelation 16:16 as the place where kings will gather with their armies before a great battle in the last days.

MOUNT TABOR:

From Mount Carmel it is possible look across the Jezreel Valley to Mount Tabor in the north.

This is the area where the prophetess, Deborah, served as a judge of God’s people in the days before the kings. She is best known for urging Barak to engage the army of the oppressive Canaanites. During the battle, which began at Mount Tabor, all the enemy soldiers fell to Barak’s troops except for the leader, Sisera. He was later killed by a strong woman, Jael, who lulled him to sleep with a glass of milk and then drove a tent peg through his temple. (Judges 4)

Judges 6 tells the story of Gideon who also lived in this area in the town of Orphrah. At that time the Israelites were subject to the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord commissioned him to save Israel, Gideon was cautious. First he tested the angel. Then he carried out the angel’s instructions to destroy objects of Baal and Asherah worship, but did so secretly, at night. When his identity was discovered, he depended on his father to deflect the anger of townsmen. The Spirit of the Lord did come upon Gideon and he accepted his leadership role, summoning others to join the fight against the Mideonites. But Gideon again became less confident and needed two tests involving fleece before fully committing to the leadership.

When it was time to go to battle, Gideon had 32,000 soldiers. But God said it was too many and asked Gideon to allow everyone who was fearful to go home. That announcement reduced the number of soldiers from 32,000 to 10,000, but the army was still too big for God’s purposes. Gideon then observed the way the soldiers drank at a spring and sent 9,700 more home. By that time Gideon needed encouragement, so the Lord sent him to eavesdrop on nearby Midianite soldiers. He heard them talking about a dream predicting a Midianite defeat. That was what Gideon wanted to hear. He returned and led 300 men to victory using trumpets and jars with torches inside. During the lifetime of Gideon, the reluctant leader, the land enjoyed a remarkable 40 years of peace.

MOUNT GILBOA:

Mount Gilboa, to the east, is actually a mountain range. It forms a steep ridge above the Jordan river and serves as a watershed between the Kishon and Jordan river systems. It has many springs which contribute to these rivers and help provide irrigation for the Jezreel Valley.

Tens of thousands of people visit Mount Gilboa each spring between February and April because of the remarkable wild flowers found there. Of particular note is the Gilboa iris, a very large violet iris with dark patches. It has six petals that alternate, three upright and three bent. In an environment where water supply is uncertain it survives because its seeds can delay germination for several years until a drought ends.

This area has 2 connections with King Saul. First, he consulted a witch at Endor, a small town north of Mount Gilboa, before his last battle with the Philistines. (1 Samuel 28:11,12) Then, after being wounded in the battle, Saul committed suicide by falling on his sword on Mount Gilboa. (1 Samuel 31)

JESUS IN THE JEZREEL VALLEY:

Since Nazareth is near Mount Tabor, Jesus knew this area well. The mountains around the valley were a familiar sight to him. Perhaps they gave particular meaning to his recitation of Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes to the hills–from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”*

One day as he approached the village of Nain, near Mount Tabor, Jesus saw the funeral procession of the only son of a widow. He “had compassion for her and said to her ‘Do not weep.’” He called the boy back to life and all the people glorified God saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us! and “God has looked favourably upon his people!” (Luke 7:4-17)*

Another day, as the Jesus passed along the border of Galilee and Samaria on his way to Jerusalem, he was met by ten outcast lepers. He healed them. One came back, praising God and thanking Jesus. He was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:11-19)

Several church fathers, beginning in the 3rd century, referred to Mount Tabor as the Mount of Transfiguration. This may be because it rises cleanly, like a mountain, above the surrounding valley. From the 6th century onwards churches and monastaries marked the place and many Christians made pilgrimages there. The Church of the Transfiguration was built between 1919 and 1924 by Franciscans. The friars live next door in a monastery that was established in 1873. A feature of this church is a mosaic, depicting the transfiguration, which hangs at the front of the church above the altar. On August 6, the day of the Feast of the Transfiguration, light is reflected onto the mosaic from glass panels in the floor.

*NRSV

FOR FURTHER VIEWING:

http://www.kkl.org.il/eng/tourism-and-recreation/forests-and-parks/gilboa-forests.aspx (wild flowers on Mount Gilboa)

http://www.birdingisrael.com/birdsOfIsrael/israel/birdingHotspots_3.htm (birdwatching)

https://www.google.ca/search?q=fish+ponds+in+the+Jezreel+Valley+Israel&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=-TkBU7C1OaOa2AWS-IGYDQ&ved=0CDcQsAQ&biw=1360&bih=553#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=w3wcjC3kqi5ZOM%253A%3BoBx6VPmcIq0AeM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fhaifa-israel.info%252Fsitebuilder%252Fimages%252FPresentation1-435×317.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fhaifa-israel.info%252Fcalendrierseptembreanglais2013.html%3B435%3B317 (many photos of Israel beginning with fish ponds in the Jezreel Valley)

Copyright: Bonnie Beldan-Thomson 2014

 

Mount Carmel February 13, 2014

MOUNT CARMEL

The name Mount Carmel is used in three ways.

1. It is a mountain range in northern Israel which stretches from the northwest to the southeast. It runs about 39 kilometres long and 8 km wide and its highest point is 525 m (1724 feet.) Rock formation is primarily limestone and flint with many caves.
2. Sometimes the name refers to the northwestern 19 km of the range
3. Sometimes it refers to the headland at the northwestern end of the range where the mountains make a bulge into the sea on a coastline that is otherwise quite smooth.

Haifa, the third largest city of Israel nestles between Mount Carmel’s northwestern headland and the Mediterranean. With adjacent towns the population is about 600,000, giving it a district that is the third largest in Israel. Its history can be seen by the powers that conquered and ruled it: Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, British and Israelis. In the 3rd century Haifa was a renowned dye-making centre. Now its economy is based on technology, petroleum refining and chemical processing.

The city has three divisions of population and use. At the level of Mediterranean, Haifa’s port, the largest in Israel, processes 24 million tons of cargo annually and provides docking for many cruise chips. Above, on the lower slopes of Mount Carmel, are older residential neighbourhoods. New neighbourhoods enjoy the view from the upper level.

Also on the top tier are The Ba’hai Gardens, sometimes referred to as The Hanging Gardens of Haifa. The 19 terraces of groomed hedges and gardens rise 225 metres in 1 km and are considered the largest green garden area in Israel. Visitors are asked to wear clothing that covers their shoulders and extends to their knees because this is a holy place for Ba’hai believers. The first writings on this religion became public in 1844. Their influence has since spread to 200 countries.

The Druze are another distinctive religious group in the area of Haifa. They are Arab speaking people who have been designated as a distinct ethnic minority by the Israeli government. Many serve with distinction in the armed forces and some are respected politicians. It is a religion into which one must be born; they do not accept converts. Isfiya is a Druze village within the Haifa District. Daliyat el-Karmel, which maintains many cultural traditions of food and dress, is nearby. The most highly-revered Druze holy site is Jethro’s Tomb which overlooks the Sea of Gailiee near Tiberius.

The name Mount Carmel is derived from Hebrew which means “vineyard of God.” In addition to lush natural forests of pine, oak and laurel are part of the 670 species that thrive there, supported by moisture from the Mediterranean and heavy dews. Following a serious fire in December 2010, the forest is regenerating well.

Biblical writers used Mount Carmel as a symbol of beautify and fertility. Isaiah 35:2 refers to “the majesty of Carmel” and Solomon admires his beloved, “your head crowns you like Carmel.” (Song of Solomon7:5) Jeremiah says “And I brought you to Carmel, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness thereof…” (Jeremiah 2:7). Conversely, the symbolism seen in Amos 1:2 warns of Mount Carmel withering as part of the Lord’s judgement.

Despite the development of the 20th and 21st centuries, three wadis (valleys) remain as natural corridors that run from the coast, through the city to the top of the mountain. Here hikers can see wildlife such as wild boar, golden jackal, hyrax, Egyptian mongoose, owls and chameleons.

Many Jewish traditions centre around Mount Carmel. The most familiar is found in 1 Kings 18. Elijah, forced to live as an outlaw after his prophecy of drought was fulfilled, challenged the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a test of fire. Both sides built altars and prayed to their deity to provide the flame. The prophets of Baal and Asherah were not successful. Elijah first soaked his altar with water, then prayed. Fire fell, consuming the sacrifice, wood, altar and even the water. The false prophets were slaughtered at the Brook Kishon to the east of Mount Carmel.

Do you know how many prophets Elijah faced that day? A) 15 B) 150 C) 370 D) 850
Read 1 Kings 18:19 to find out.

A short time later Elijah and his servant stood at the top of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean to the west and the Valley of Jezreel to the east. It was time for the drought to end. Elijah “bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18:42) and then sent his servant, repeatedly, to peer over the sea until the seventh time when he saw the “little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand”. Scripture records that “…in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind and there was a great rain.” (1 Kings 18:45a)

Elijah’s successor, Elisha, also journeyed to Mount Carmel. While he was there he performed a miracle, bringing the son of a Shunammite woman back to life. (2 Kings 4:32-27)

While the caves of Mount Carmel sometimes harboured criminals, they also shielded prophets. Obadiah, who was in charge of the palace of King Ahab, revered the Lord greatly. When Queen Jezebel went on a killing spree against the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah sheltered 100 of them in 2 caves. This remarkable man also served as a messenger, albeit a reluctant one, between Elijah and Ahab before the challenge of fire.

The traditional cave of Elijah is a natural hall that measures 14x8x5 metres (42x24x15 feet) with small cavities in its eastern and northern sides. In the 12th century the Carmelites, a Roman Catholic order of monks was founded on Mount Carmel. Some monks returned there in the 17th century to live in the caves. At the end of the 18th century, Stella Maris, a Carmelite monastery, was established above the cave. Visitors are welcome but males and females visit separately.

Reflection:
As I’ve read about Mount Carmel, looked at pictures in books and on-line and have relived the Bible stories that took place there, I am struck by how different life was then and there, compared with here and now.

The wildlife that seems picturesque on a trail through Haifa in the 21st century used to live, without restraint, all over the mountain slopes. And there were other species. 2 Kings 2:25 refers to a bear that savaged young men.

I wonder what cave-living was like for Elijah—never mind the other prophets who were crowded 50 to a cave. Would there be a spring or stream in the cave? If so, it would provide water for drinking but would make a pretty damp environment.

The need to be hidden would likely prevent the prophets from having a garden. Wherever the food came from, it would have to be brought by stealth—no wide, easy-to-follow trails for King Ahab and his soldiers to follow. Would they be able to have a cooking fire?

It just doesn’t seem right that these righteous men, the “good guys” of the story were driven into such conditions by a wicked queen who had no qualms about committing any crime, including murder. The tragic story of Naboth shows her character. (1 Kings 21:8-14)

It may be that one of the best things about the trip to Israel will be the stripping away of any imaginary Biblical world that we have built in our minds because of familiarity with the stories. As we see real places and develop a sense of the real people who lived there, we may grow greatly in our understanding of the real God who was with them and is with us.

 

Pre-Trip Journal: Caesarea February 8, 2014

In anticipation of my trip to Israel in November 2014 I’ve started researching the sites I will be visiting. They are a fascinating blend of locale, history and spiritual significance. The project seemed too good to keep to myself so I’ll be posting once a week for the next while. Thanks for joining me. Enjoy!

CAESAREA: (also known as Caesarea Maritima)

GENERAL INFORMATION:
Caesarea is on the Mediterranean Sea, 50 km north of Tel Aviv and the same distance south of Haifa. It is about 100 km north and west of Jerusalem. This city is also referred to as Caesarea Maritima to avoid confusion with Caesarea Phillipi.

SIGNIFICANCE TO CHRISTIANS:
Philip, who was taken by the Lord to meet, teach and baptize the Ethiopian Eunuch, lived in Caesarea with his family which included his four daughters who had the gift of prophecy. (Acts 8:26-40; 21:8)

Caesarea was the home of Cornelius, a devout Roman Centurion who feared God, gave alms and prayed. One afternoon, during three o’clock prayers, he had a vision in which an angel gave him specific directions for making contact with Simon Peter who was in Joppa, about 50 km away. The next day, as Cornelius’ messengers were approaching Joppa, Simon Peter was given a roof-top vision which showed him that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was open to Gentiles as well as Jews. As a result, Simon Peter with some other believers went to Caesarea where Cornelius and many other Gentiles believed in Jesus, were filled with the Holy Spirit and baptized. (Acts 10:1-47)

Caesarea was the place where Herod was struck down by an angel of the Lord after he allowed people to call him a god. (Acts 12: 19:b – 23)

Paul passed through Caesarea many times. Here, in Philip’s home, a prophet named Agabus bound his own feet and hands with Paul’s belt, predicting that Paul would be handed over to the Gentiles if he went on to Jerusalem. (Acts 21:11)

Paul made his defense before Felix in Caesarea before being imprisoned for two years, then set sail for Italy from there. (Acts 9:30; 18:22; 21:7-8; 23:23-35, 24:1-27)

A Church council held in Caesarea in 195 first made the decision that Easter should be celebrated on a Sunday.

Caesarea became an important centre for Christian learning. The famous theologian, Origen of Alexandria, taught there and founded its extensive library in the 3rd century. Eusebius who is known as the Father of Church History became Caesarea’s first bishop in the early 4th century.

HISTORY:
Caesarea, once a Phoenician port, has a history that goes back to the 4th century BC. At that time it was called Straton’s Tower after its founder, Straton, who is believed to have been a ruler of Sidon.

Later Cleopatra of Egypt controlled it. Then Herod received it from Caesar Augustus, the Emperor who sent out a census which required Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem. Herod renamed the city Caesarea in Caesar’s honour and set about making it the grandest city in Palestine, second only to Jerusalem. For example, his impressive palace was built out into the sea with water on three sides.

In 6 AD Caesarea became the home of the Roman governors of Judea. For example, Pontius Pilate governed there during the time of Jesus.

In 66-70 AD Jewish and Syrian communities began fighting. This violence spread throughout the country, culminating in the razing of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple by Roman troops.

Caesarea fell under the control of Muslim invaders in 640 and was destroyed in 1265, although the Crusaders held it from 1101 until 1187.

In 1884 Muslim refugees from Bosnia established a small fishing village there but it was abandoned in 1948 during the War of Independence.

SITES OF INTEREST:
Archaeological excavations, begun in 1945, reveal a magnificent ancient city. Thousands of marble and pink granite columns lined main streets. Mosaic sidewalks led from the city to the theatre. Large warehouses near the harbour hold remains of food stuffs, building materials and Chinese porcelain, giving witness to the wealth associated with extensive trade connections.

The harbour itself has largely disappeared, with breakwaters now 5 metres under the surface of the sea. However, it was constructed with Roman engineering excellence and during the time of Herod was one of the largest in the Roman world.

In 1962 the “Pontius Pilate Stone” was discovered. It affirms Pilate’s presence in Judea in Jesus’ time and clarifies the title, prefect.

The amphitheatre accommodated an audience of 4500 people. When Peter entered Caesarea on his way from Joppa to see Cornelius, he would have passed by this theatre. Its original plaster floor was brightly painted but later covered with marble. The theatre has been reconstructed over the centuries and continues to this day as a centre for performing arts. Programs include top tier performers from around the world, the International Opera
Festival and the internationally renowned Caesarea Jazz Festival. While enjoying music, concert goers are also treated to a spectacular view of the Mediterranean.

Visitors can also see remains of the aqueduct which carried water from springs in the foothills of Mt. Carmel more than 10 km away. Water was brought half that distance through a solid rock channel which was chiselled away by workers. The aqueduct pipes then carried it the rest of the way, always sloping gently down, to supply water for drinking, household use, public baths and city fountains. Later, during the time of the Emperor Hadrian, a second aqueduct was built beside the first.

The hippodrome, a stadium for watching chariot races and other sports, is now a banana field. Estimates of its original capacity vary from 20,000 to 38,000.

The remains of a walled city built by the Crusaders in the 13th century include a cathedral which was never completed because it was built on vaults of an earlier period that were unable to bear the weight. (See video below)

Two marble statues remain from Roman times. But since they are headless and bear no inscriptions, the dignitaries for whom they were built are anonymous.

RECOMMENDED: FURTHER VIEWING AND READING:
http://vimeopro.com/discipledaily/kidron-collection/video/60101226 (a movie of a tour guide standing by the remains of a cathedral which is said to have been built over Cornelius’ house)

http://tsfga.blogspot.ca/2013/04/israel-caesarea-mt-carmel-megiddo.html (first hand observations by a tourist with a well-used iphone, April 2013)

https://www.google.ca/search?q=caesarea+israel+gentiles+first&sa=N&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=1-LjUveaHui82gWFjYCoDw&ved=0CEkQsAQ4FA&biw=1360&bih=553 (many photos)

http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/caesareaaqueduct.html (further reading about the aqueduct)

http://www.cmj-israel.org/CMJMinistries/ShoreshTours/ssm_mat11htm/tabid/154/Default.aspx (engineering details about the construction of the harbour)

Copyright Bonnie Beldan-Thomson 2014.