We slept in until 7:30 this morning before going to visit Capernaum, which the Bible describes as Jesus’ “own city” in Luke 9. He lived here for a while during his earlier ministry, possibly in Peter’s house if not His own. We had a brief stop at the Jordan River before proceeding south along the Jordan River valley to Jericho, where we visited the tel of the ancient city. After going to Jerusalem and walking extensively around three sides of the Temple Mount, we decided to call it a day and return to our hotel for a decent meal and some rest. Tomorrow we will worship, then report for excavation duty.
Here are a few highlights from today.
Capernaum - The white limestone is a synagogue from the 3rd or 4th century A.D. The dark basalt stone on the bottom is foundation for what is probably the previous synagogue that dates to the 1st century. Basalt is cheap but not very strong as a building material. Its use in the synagogue, and in all other 1st century houses/buldings there, indicates the poverty of the town. Another suggestion of Capernaum's poverty? The local garrison commander, a centurion, donated money to build the basalt synagogue (Luke 7:1-5). The larger, prettier limestone synagogue suggests the Jewish community there was more prosperous in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
Partially reconstructed interior of the limestone synagogue. The 1st-century synagogue used most of this same space, just a few feet below the present level. According to the Bible, this space was where Jesus healed the man with the withered hand (Mark 2; Matthew 9) and declared, "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." (John 6:54-55)
Our view of Jerusalem, about 1 block from the hotel. The golden Dome of the rock (center) stands on the site of the Jewish Temples described in the Bible. The entire platform, marked by the wall, was (re)built by Herod the Great and his successors in the 1st century. Many of the original stones have since been replaced, but a good number of Herodian stones remain visible. The Bible records how Jesus taught in this area, and how the church began on the Temple Mount in Acts 2. The Western (Wailing) Wall is a section of the platform wall on the opposite side of the Temple Mount. We walked down the Mount of Olives, up the side of the Temple Mount, and around the left (South) end of the Temple Mount to see the Western Wall. We arrived there just as many Jews were congregating to observe the end of Sabbath.
Breakfast: I decided to experience a grated carrot salad with orange wedges, with a small pile of green olives on the side. (Not to worry, I also had a hard boiled egg and other traditional U.S. fare.) I also observed (but did not eat) a dish of salmon with onions, red peppers, celery and cilantro. For breakfast. Honestly, if we hadn’t been trying to get out the door I might have sampled it.
Afternoon refreshment at Jericho: A fresh cup of carrot juice with ice. It tasted like, well, carrots. Jericho was extremely hot, and this drink was cool.
Dinner: We didn’t have “lunch” per sé, but our dinner was a refreshing surprise. We honestly stumbled into this – think roasted lamb with hummus and various fresh salad-type veggies heaped on a large plate with hot pita bread on the side, on a breezy rooftop at sundown, on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Temple Mount and Jerusalem.
I don’t know how my internet access will be during the week, so just stay tuned for more. I’ll definitely post when I can.