The greeting "Sabbat Shalom" is used by Jewish people on this day to express "may your day of no work be peaceful"! Isn't that a great greeting? The Sabbath began at sunset this evening and we are just about to sit down to a meal that Cindy Bayer (aided by my wife Sharon) have prepared for us.
Last night we went out to a coffee bar/restaurant called "Greg." The pictures shows two young 58 years-olds who are still in love and still wanting to live life to the fullest!
Today Greg and I had a great day of touring (Sharon stayed at the house and read, played the piano and helped Cindy). We headed down to the Mediterranean Coast south of Haifa to an ancient port city named "Dor." It's mentioned in the Bible in connection with Joshua's conquest of northern Canaan (Joshua 11:2; 12:23) as well as in Judges and Kings/Chronicles.
The bay at Dor is pictured here and the rocks in the distance have many archeological remains covering them. The museum at Dor had a great film on the various discoveries made in the various shipwrecks off the coast including cannons from Napolean's army, swords from the crusaders, vessels from the Phoenicians etc.
Then we headed down the coast about 9 miles to Caesarea Maritima where Peter first preached to the gentile Cornelius (Acts 10), where King Agrippa I was eaten by worms after accepting worship as a god (Acts 12:21-23), and where Paul was held for two years before heading to trial in Rome (Acts 24). The storm out in the Med Sea caused waves to wash over the breakwater that protects the remains of the hippodrome (the western side has been reclaimed by the sea) that once held 10,000 spectators. The chariot race in Ben Hur was based on the races here. In some buildings built on the remains of the harbor we watched two films on the history of Caesarea both of which were extremely informative. The Romans, the Byzantines, the Muslims, the Crusaders all built here. Then later it was the Bosnians refugees and finally the returning Jews who all made a home here. Now I was walking along on top of 2,000 years of history and marveling at the ruins.
Driving back by means of the Yokneam Pass through the Carmel range Greg ran down and took a picture of the traditional peak of Mt. Carmel (where Elijah had the contest with the prophets of Baal) from the Kishon River (where Elijah had the 450 prophets of Baal killed). After quick stops at the Horns of Hattim (one of the last battles in which the crusaders were soundly defeated by the Muslims), Capernaum, Cove of the Sower, we drove to Magdala (think Mary Magdalene). This was a village I had never visited since it is not open to the public yetbut for the last two years but there have been almost constant excavations here by Mexican volunteers. Cindy Bayer, the wonderful lady whose home were are staying in, knows the archeologist in charge of the recent work there and "made a call." Three young volunteers from the dig met Sharon, Greg, Cindy and I and showed us around. These young ladies are from Mexico (Ardrea is an up and coming archeologist, Gabriela is a young restorer, and Rosauro is two-year leader/assistant to the director). They spoke great English and were wonderful with their explanations and personal stories of discoveries (such as 80 coins at one place!). You will see there are no pictures of the actual ruins since it is not permitted to take pictures at this time. (The results need to be published officially before this will be allowed.) However, we heard and saw some great finds from 1st century Magdala! (the synagogue here is, I think, one of seven first-century synagogues in the Galilee region (even the one we see at Capernaum is a 3-4th century one). For more information see: http://blog.bibleplaces.com/2009/09/1st-century-synagogue-found-at-magdala.html
As the sun set tonight snow-covered Mt. Hermon appeared out of the clouds in the far north (see pic). Snow-covered Mt. Bental is also visible (we plan to be up on top of this extinct volcano this time next week with the IFL tour) and the north end of the Sea of Galilee can be seen as well.
Tonight we sat at the table for 2 1/2 hours drinking, eating, singing, hearing Brooke's testimony, as we celebrated the Sabbath (Shabbat). It was a very, moving, spiritual refreshing time. Wish you were here.