I usually refer to this day on the Tour as the Jesus Sites day. That was only mostly true this year because I chose to stay an extra day in Jerusalem and omit the usual trip through the Golan Heights because of the troubles in Syria. We started at Yardenet, the tourist site for the Jordan River. It is set up to handle massive baptisms, but we just snuck into one of the many stairwells and read the Baptism story in Matthew. We talked about the likelihood that this was even close the the story in Matthew (the students decided it could not be since people were coming from Jerusalem to be baptized.)
After a short bus ride we hiked Mount Arbel, not a biblical tie, but it has a spectacular view of the northwest end of the lake, with the major locations clearly identified. The view of the “Horns of Hattin” is fantastic.
We then drove to the Mount of Beatitudes, the traditional site of the Sermon on the Mount. This again has a fairly low chance of being the right place, primarily because the site has shifted overly the years. I think that just about any hill will do, and there are some problems thinking of the Sermon on the Mount as a single sermon “preached” at a single time. The current church was in part funded by Mussolini and is a small octagonal chapel with each wall dedicated to a Beatitude. The garden itself is pretty, and is as good a place as any to read Matthew 5. The students wandered a bit, reading scripture and praying. I spent just a few minutes reading the Beatitude to Ben Stout. It was very moving to hear him re-word them in ways that got to the heart of the saying.
From the Mount, we drove to Capernaum and the traditional site of St. Peter’s house. Unlike the Mount, I can say that is certainly Capernaum, and the house is really a first century house. The tradition that identifies this as Peter’s house is fairly old. I am willing to accept this tradition, although for me that does not matter too much. We read Mark 2, the healing of the paralytic at Peter’s house. What this story does is reveal who Jesus is (the one who forgives sin). They are doing a great deal of work on Capernaum, the front wall and the shaded area is roped off and torn up. I am not sure what they are doing, but right now many of the finds along the side fence are no longer visible.
After lunch at the Jesus boat museum (sandwiches and juice) we drove a hour to Tel Dan. The park is putting cement paths in, so there was a slight detour, and we were under a bit of a time crunch since it was two hours to closing. We got a good picture at the Pistacio Lookout point, I think that is two or thee times for that picture. The gate has not changed much, although I do not remember the cult stone at the entrance. We walked to the cult center, where Jeroboam built one of the two golden calves after the kingdom split after Solomon’s death.
This is the last night in Galilee, which disappoints everyone since Ma’agan is such a good hotel. Tomorrow early we cross the border to Jordan and work our way down to Petra. I may be a bit late with one or both of those blogs since I am not sure the Internet will be affordable at our hotel.