Saturday, July 30, 2011

Galilee: Day 5

July 15

On the road again… I just can’t wait to get on the road again…
Today’s field trip was to Gamla. You know that little scripture, “a city set on a hill cannot be hid”? Well, Gamla is one of two cities that would have been visible across the Sea of Galilee while the Savior was giving the Sermon on the Mount. 

me and nutmeg... you can see gamla in the background.

The other was the polis (a large city) of Hippos. You would have been able to see (or at least know the location of) both of these cities if you were sitting on the other side of the lake. There isn’t much left of those cities now… and unfortunately, there was a little thing called a “war zone” that used to be here. I thought the banana plantations looked pretty harmless, but I guess that my parents want me to make it home safe, and that getting blown up while trying to hike up to Hippos wasn’t really a wise option. So we nixed that plan.
But Gamla was awesome! I’ve always had this really weird fascination with ruins… I think it is the 5-year-old in me that has dreams of becoming a famous archeologist that comes out at these places.
At Gamla, we learned the meaning of hiking uphill both ways. We also learned what it would feel like to be a Dr. Seuss character. 

here we have a who-zit and a whats-zit.
but these two are acne free!

But one really important thing about Gamla was the synagogue. After the Romans defeated the city (which was a Zealot stronghold during one of their rebellions) 4000 Jews were killed, and the other 5000 jumped to their deaths. The city was never rebuilt, so we actually got to go and sit inside of the ruins of a 1st century synagogue. In Matthew 9, it talks about Jesus going “about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” If the Savior really did got “to all the cities” he would have gone there. And he probably did. So the house that we saw, the stones on which we sat, probably knew the Savior. And if they could talk, I wonder what they would have to say to us.
Gamla also had one of the best views ever. It was incredible. We hiked all the way up to the top, and then as far out on to the promontory as we could before we were leaping from rock to rock like a bunch of mountain goats. We finally gave up, took some awesome pictures, and then headed back. 

i don't want to be the commander that tried to attack this city...
but you have to give kudos to the roman commander that did take the city! 

On the way, Dan and I took a little detour and decided to stop by and see the olive press. Just a quick look, and then it was another hike back up to the bus. I think the hike back was worse. But we survived, and there was a glorious bathroom that awaited us at the end!

From Gamla, we went to Kursi. Even though we didn’t get to go to Hippos, this city played a bit of a role in the story of the devilled ham. Hehe. (i.e. the story of the devils that went out of the man into the herd of swine). Kursi was located in the Decapolis, and so they were not predominantly Jewish. This explains why there was a herd of swine nearby. Christ was walking through the area and met a man that was possessed by many devils and was living inside of the tombs in the hills. Jesus cast out the devils into the swine, where they ran down the steep hill (it’s not a cliff) and drowned in the sea below. The place is lovingly deemed today “piggy hill” in reference to its claim to that Bible story.
After the field trip, we got back to Ein Gev, and then we left again to go float the Jordan River. When they said “float” I assumed that they meant “in single person tubes down the river,” which kind of confused me when they told us that we were not supposed to get in the water… we got to the river, and it turns out that they were rafts. Like the kind you go white-water rafting in. That made a little bit more sense. Did we stay out of the water? Maybe for like 2 minutes… until we got around the corner, out of the view of the management. Then it went into a full-scale war. Cries of “boarding party!” and “attack!” were coming from all directions, and no one was safe in their own raft. I got kidnapped, and never quite made it back to my original raft. (They actually ended up with only 3 people in that one… and the people in it were so tiny that they just zoomed down the river!) My new raft was all for attacking… we managed to get 9 people in it at one point… right before we started sinking.

Note to self: even though I had a swimsuit on underneath, the white shirt was NOT a good idea for this outing. Especially since I only have a limited number of clean clothes for this trip.
We ended the day with a visit from our favorite ancient near east teacher… but I don’t think we could give him the attention that he deserved… we were all wiped out. I think this is actually one of the nights that I managed to get to bed at a somewhat decent hour. Scratch that… I still got to bed late, but this one was earlier than most. 

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