Today, my wife Sharon and I, along with our good friend Greg Hatteberg, took a rainy drive up onto the Golan Heights. The Galilee has needed more rain and today they got quite a bit with Mt. Hermon getting even more snow. Our plan was to go up to the ski lift on Hermon but we discovered they had closed the road because of the snow and extremely high winds that could cause accidents. So we adjusted our plans and had a great day despite the rain. We started off by driving up the Yarmuk River Gorge and looked over to the country of Jordan and to where the Decapolis city of Gadara is located. The picture to the right shows my "tendency to teach," even through a fence!
Then it was up a "snake-like" road up to the Golan [OT Bashan], the home of Og, King of Bashan. His bed was iron and about 13 feet long and 6 feet wide (see Deut 3). We stopped at the Peace Vista, an overview of the Sea of Galilee, and then past fertile grain fields as fair as the eye could see. The Golan was part of Syria until 1967 when it was annexed by Israel.
The rain really began to come down so we skipped Gamla (the Masada of the north) which we had seen before and went on to Katzon [Qasrin]. Here we toured a museum, saw two movies of events/history of the Golan and then I went into an Israeli Post Office to exchange some money and pay my $100NIS [about $33USA] parking fine (maybe our Post Office could learn to multi-task like theirs!)
Then we drove down to the Jordan River (the pic shows the north section that runs from Dan to the Sea of Galilee) which used to be the border between Israel and Syria. We had lunch at a small restaurant overlooking the Hula Valley opposite the ancient city of Hazor.
Then we continued down the Jordan River valley to Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew, Peter and Philip. We saw the NT period city including a fisherman's house (where all sorts of fishing implements where found by the archeologists) and then we saw an iron age (think King David era) city gate. This is the territory where king David got his wife Macaah (2 Sam 3:3, who bore him Absalom, who later fled back here for 3 years [see 2 Samuel 13:37-39).
Finally we drove along the east shore of the Sea of Galilee past the traditional "cliff" where the swine ran down to the Sea of Galilee after being cast out of the demoniac(s) by Christ (see the pic that shows the steep hill towards the sea (— there are great issues to decide however the exact location of this miracle) then to En Gev, then up a winding road to the east up to another Decapolis city — Hippos [Susita]. The picture shows the view from Hippos towards the north end of the Sea of Galilee where Capernaum and the Mt of Beatitudes are located. Ending the tour-day with a coffee at Cafe Aroma we made our way home to "our house" (Cindy and Gary Bayer have just made us feel "at home"!). What a great, rainy, site-filled day on the Golan.