Galilee: Part 2

The third day began at Hazor, a city north of the Sea of Galilee located in the Huleh Basin. This was a very critical city in ancient times and even today. It was considered the greatest among equals (of the Canaanite kings) and is the largest archaeological tel in Israel. The Bible story that we focused on was the story in Joshua 11. This was when the King of Hazor called together the other Canaanite kings in the area (since he was the head) and asked them to help him ambush Joshua and the Israelites. The kings met at Mt. Hermon (which we got to see, all covered in snow) and then headed to Mt. Meron (highest mountain in Israel) where they planned to ambush Joshua when he took Hazor. However, God intervened and delivered the kings into Joshua’s hands, and he ambushed the ambusher. The site itself was huge and very interesting, and it had one of the three six – chambered Solomonic gates found in Israel (the other ones are in Megiddo and Gezer). 

Ancient Mud Brick Arch

After Hazor we traveled on to Dan, which is located at the top of the Huleh Basin, north of Hazor. Dan first shows up in Genesis 14 when Abraham went as far as Dan in his travels. This place was the top of the Basin, which served as an international ground that was full of conflict throughout the years. In ancient times, it was the Hittites and the Arameans pushing through there to get to Israel. In modern times (even back in the 1960’s) it was the Syrians who tried to come through there, but instead of chariot warfare it was tank warfare. At the site we got to see a mud brick arch that dates back to the time of the patriarchs (middle bronze age) which proves that the Romans were not the ones to invent the arch! The site was beautiful, full of vegetation, almost felt like we were walking through a jungle (although I’ve never been to a real jungle). The spring at Dan is the most powerful headwater spring to the Jordan River, with about 2,000 gallons a minute! 

Caesarea Phillippi 

Then we went to Caesarea Philippi (or Banias) and got to see a bit of New Testament history, which was great because we have focused so much on the Old Testament. This place was where Jesus came and where Peter acknowledged Jesus as the living God. It was also a place full of pagan worship, with the pagans worshiping the god Pan in the cave and some of the temples were built for worship of the emperor. When Jesus asked who He was, He was declaring that He was not the pagan gods or Caesar, but the true living God, the Messiah amongst rampant idol worship. We had a great time climbing up onto some of the capitals there and then we got a chance to go for a hike. We went beside the spring (that comes out beneath the cave) for about an hour, and got to enjoy the wildflowers and vegetation along the trail. At the end we stopped by the waterfall and enjoyed the powerful mist that it created! 

Mt. Hermon

We ended the day on the edge of an extinct volcanic cone looking into Syria. I don’t know about you, but when I heard I would be standing on a volcano I pictured Lord of the Rings, open gaping hole volcano. But it was more just like a mountain with a cone – looking top. That was a bit disappointing, but it was awesome to be able to look into Syria and get an idea of what the land north of Israel looks like. 

By the time we got back to Ein Gev Resort, it was already dark and the sunset had come and gone. However, we were determined to swim in the water, and since we hadn’t had a chance thus far, we were going in despite the darkness and the cold air. So we put on our swimsuits and waded in, and boy, was it cold! It more of a numbing cold, so when we were in for a while it wasn’t as bad. A few people went in waist deep and went out, but Amber, Anna and I had a blast just running around in the water and being goofy. It definitely felt great to let loose a bit and then enjoy a hot shower later! The food at the resort was fantastic! And the dessert was amazing, I have missed dessert so much! We get it very rarely, so getting cake and brownies made everything better. 

Our boat!

We woke up the next day and said goodbye to our resort, a bit sad, but I knew that the rest of the day was going to be great. We started the day off going on a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, which was fantastic! I found myself leaning over the side, feeling the breeze against my face and just enjoying being out on the water. I was able to imagine Jesus out on the boat with His disciples, and the story that ensued. I could see in my head the waves crashing against the boat and the wind whistling in my ear. And I could imagine how terrifying it would be in such a small boat in that kind of storm. That was really cool. And just being out on a boat felt great, and it was an awesome start to the day. 

Synagogue at Capernaum

The next stop to Capernaum was my favorite stop the entire trip. There was just something special about the site. Jesus spent a lot of time here, and to see the place where He might have stayed and to see the area where His disciples would have been when He called them…WOW. We got a lot of background information on Capernaum, such as it was a huge fishing industry for the lake and had great agricultural area. It was also had a deep Roman footprint, with Roman buildings and at the time, Roman soldiers stationed there. The Sea of Galilee was just a clashing of mindsets and cultures, and this is where Jesus did most of His ministry. It’s way different than the provincial area of Nazareth where he grew up. Dr. Wright read Matthew 4 to us, the story of the calling of the disciples, while we were all sitting on rocks gazing out at the Sea. You could tell that it was a powerful moment for everyone, because we could see it, feel it, imagine it! To know that Jesus walked along this shore, that the disciples were catching fish right here. Then we got some time to just sit quietly and reflect, and that was perfect. I was able to read the passage against and praise Jesus in my heart, praising Him for all that He is, and was, and is to come. I prayed that I would have faith like those disciples, and that I would live my life as a disciple for Christ, giving up everything that I have to follow Him. It was a bit of a turning point for me. I decided that materials don’t matter to me, serving God does. Nothing in my life matters as much as He does, and my life needs to reflect that. My career choice needs to reflect that, my words need to reflect that, everything does. I’m not going to do this half way, just letting myself be complacent and do enough to make it to heaven. I want to service Jesus and His Kingdom, putting Him first. 

Our stop for lunch was at Chorazim, where Jesus writes in Matthew 11:20 that it was one of the three places that He did most of His miracles, yet they did not repent. That is the only mention of Chorazim in the Bible, which surprised me that He did most of His miracles there, yet it wasn’t mentioned. Anyways, the site was really interesting, with a 5th century Byzantine synagogue, complete with an image of Medusa inscribed on the rock. Now that threw us for a loop! Not sure what the explanation of that is, but I’m sure it’s a good one! We ate our last bus lunch of the semester (sad day!) and explored the site a bit before we headed for our last stop. 

The final stop of the trip was the Cliffs of Arbel, where we were able to talk on the top about our trip and the view, and then we got to climb down the cliffs to the bottom where our bus was located. This was definitely awesome, because I am a daredevil, and I have been itching to do some climbing! Granted, there were handholds and a trail, but it satisfied my desire for a bit. Then we got to go climb up into some caves and explore, which I loved! Two weeks before that one of the short term students had actually found a Roman coin in one of the coins, so that gave us all motivation to look for some! Unfortunately, we weren’t that blessed, but it was still great to explore them anyways. 

On the bus ride home, I was sitting next to one of my friends and was just reflecting on the past few days and the impact it had on me. This whole experience has changed me, molded me, and shaped me into a different person. I see things differently, I experience things differently, and I think about things way differently. I see it as when I’ve grown up, I’ve kinda lived in a box. An American box, a Vogt family box, a homeschool box, etc. Everything I am has been shaped by that box, but coming here allowed me to step out of that box and see who I am without all that. When everything is unfamiliar, when all that I know is stripped away, what is left? And that’s what I’m figuring out. I’m realizing who I am without all that is familiar, without all that has shaped me in the past. I’m finding out that there are a lot of traits that I’ve had that I don’t want anymore, and I’ve purposely gone out of my way to put myself in situations that will change that. For example, I’m a really impatient person. But I’ve been waiting for everyone else to eat before me so that I have to be patient and let others go first. But I’m also realizing that I’m losing a lot of my American paradigms that I came with. I see the Middle East differently, the church differently, my faith differently, etc. A wise woman that spoke said that living in the Middle East is like getting every American paradigm you have shaken up and thrown onto the ground, then trying to pick up the pieces. And believe me, it’s not easy! What do I want to come back to America with? What do I want for my life when I go home? Is all this change going to go to waste, or will it last? These are all thoughts that have been occupying my mind. God has really been working with me, and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store with me. My heart is full of such joy as I grow closer to Him everyday and my passion for Him and His Word grows each day. 

Coral Reef Reserve

On another note, two friends and I went to Eilat right after this trip for 2 1/2 days because we only had one class last week. Eilat is a resort town at the southern tip of Israel, right on the Red Sea. It was very Americanized, with a lot of casinos and resorts and many many MANY tourists walking around. We stayed in a hostel and actually got a room to ourselves, which was great! We went out to the coral reef reserve and got to go snorkeling on the coral reef (which is the 2nd best in the world!!). We got to see jelly fish, barracuda, eels, and so many beautiful fish! They were so bright that I didn’t even think they were real!! It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had, one that will go down in my memory book for awhile. That night we got to go out on the town and eat at a cute little sandwich bar, where we met these paratroopers who just got out of the army. It was cool to chat with them for awhile, and then we went to see the Hunger Games…8 hours before it came out in the US! Talk about a win! The next day we went to the beach and laid out and then went shopping at the mall (I walked in and was like…’THIS FEELS LIKE HOME’) before taking the 4 hour bus back to Jerusalem. 

The next day was our student activity day (let’s just say, by this time I was exhausted — going on 6 full days of nonstop activity) at Gan Hoshlosha, in the Galilee area. It’s a beautiful park (rated in top 20 in the world) with natural hot springs that are used for pools. It was great to finally be in fresh water and to enjoy time as a group without the worry of notes. A few of the guys ended up throwing us into the water by having us step on their hands and then pushing up. I was the smallest, so I got lots of air and was able to do back flips, which was awesome! We also got to grill out, which also made me feel miss home. Hamburgers and hot dogs, yes! 

Me getting thrown!

I got to watch the KU game last night, which was so good! I can’t even describe how happy it made me to watch some basketball. It’s been killing me to not be able to watch March Madness, and even though the game froze about every 10 seconds and the quality was so bad we could barely even see the ball, it was so worth it to see my Jayhawks win! Ugh, ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK! 

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll post pictures when I can, but 4 hours of blog writing is enough for one day! I hope everything is well in America, I’m a bit isolated over here so I have no idea what’s even going on. Going back is going to be a culture shock, that’s for sure! 

Love you all! 


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