Youth Hostels and Swimming

First field day on the Arad excursion, and we made a plethora of stops—the first of which being the Roman steps. Having walked down some wet limestone ramps in the Old City, I appreciate how they carved out steps for easy walking despite how much the carts would jostle up and down them.

Our second stop was at Beth Shemesh—a great place to visualize the Samson narrative. Along with my new fascination for monasticism, I will be interested to read up on the Nazarite vow. Tel Azeka was possibly my favorite part of the day with the re-enactment. I was impressed with the enthusiasm from multiple parties and the appropriate casting (height wise).

Moresha brought interesting light to Micah. Sometimes when reading Scripture, it’s hard to imagine the realities of living in certain political climates. Posing Micah 6:6-8 in the context of Philadelphia before the Revolutionary War brought me to such a better understanding of that passage and its nuances.

After a long stop at Moresha, we went to Lachish. Despite all the notes I took during the lecture at the bottom of the tel, the most memorable part was breaking the law in such a Middle Eastern way! I love being sneaky and going around fences with large signs saying, “no passing!” I secretly wished that we would run into some archaeologists just to see Dr. Phillips say (in a presumably quasi-snarky way), “Oh! We’re just archaeology students, so we’re just here to study,” in the hopes of being allowed to stay without some sort of penalty. Alas, it was fun nonetheless.

Going to the Mediterranean Sea at Ashkelon reminded me how crazy it is that I’m in Israel right now. The past 2 weeks has been an amazing whirlwind; the days are melding together, but I swam in the Mediterranean Sea. I played chicken in the Mediterranean Sea. The Mediterranean Sea! This trip to Israel is the adventure of a lifetime.

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An Exam and City of David

Today, like every day it seems, was an adventure. While it wasn’t part of the “field study,” having to find an alternative route to JUC this morning because of the pope was rather fun. I know this city better than I thought I did! The exam part of the day wasn’t too bad having been tested on most of this material before. Next stop: City of David!

On the way down to the City of David, we stopped to peer over at an archaeological site. I believe it was a palace belonging to a queen (I wish I remember who!) It’s fun that you can walk down the street and see archaeological sites everywhere you look!

While we don’t know exactly where Bathsheba lived, it was helpful to look down from the top of the City of David and see how easy it was for him to look at her despite the fact that he should not have taken advantage of this. David abused his position of living at the highest point as monarch for personal gain. I appreciated that Dr. Phillips pointed out that Bathsheba did not do anything wrong by bathing on her roof. Bathsheba is a classic example of how women are looked down upon unnecessarily and men are given a free ticket to lust rather than being held responsible for their agency. In this tale, Bathsheba bathed on her roof like everyone else because there wasn’t room to do that in her house. There was the understanding that you didn’t look at people’s roofs in order to afford them some privacy. Too often I have heard Bathsheba bringing this whole situation about by flaunting her beauty for all to see when in reality she was doing nothing wrong; David must be held responsible for this entire event.

After looking at the City of David from above, we delved down into the depths below to head towards Warren’s Shaft and Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Warren’s Shaft was interesting to look down and visualize the different sides of the arguments for whether or not David climbed up this, but at the end of the day the most convincing argument against this being the way David took in 2 Sam 5 is the difficulty people would have getting water up from the bottom. The rock face itself looked fairly clime-able but not realistic for what it would have been built for if it was built at all (Dr. Phillips suggests that it was a naturally occurring vertical tunnel.)

Hezekiah’s Tunnel was such a treat! I thought at first that the water pumping was artificial. How amazing is it that the Gihon Spring was right there?! Basically every place we see, I get overwhelmed by the fact that these things are real—no longer just words on a page.

After arising out of the tunnel, we stopped at the Pool of Siloam to read John 9. There were two little Israeli boys trying to sell us popsicles during Dr. Phillips’ lecture. “One dollar or three shekel!” It was kind of adorable watching them dance around Dr. Phillips, weaving throughout the rows of students while pitching their cheap prices on a hot day.

Like on the way to JUC in the morning, heading back to the hotel at the end of the field day was interesting with portions of the city blocked off for papal security. What a fascinating time to be in Jerusalem!

Benjamin Field Day!!!

Wow. What a day. It was packed full of surprises, adventures, and a plethora of sights that I will never forget. This whole day covers a spectrum of my loves.

Having learned about Gezer in Intro to Biblical Studies, I was pumped up to get there and see it in person. Before we left for breakfast this morning I was rapping about my excitement for Gezer to my wonderful (and rather tolerant of my crazy) roommate. Imagine how elated I was when archaeologist Dr. Shvitkah (I’m not sure how he spells it) took us down to see the large water system that he had uncovered within days of them reaching the water source! He did his PhD on water systems of antiquity. He gave us an overview of the National Park system in Israel was interesting with half being archaeological endeavors and the other half on nature preservation as well as the background of the site at Gezer itself. The care (besides McAllister’s accidental damage to the water system) that has been taken there juxtaposed to the site at Jericho made me rather sad. It’s a shame that funds are not readily available for all the sites throughout and around the Holy Land.

After going through the Conquest at Gezer, we headed over to the hill above Gibeon. It was a place great to see the various surrounding sites regarding Saul and Samuel. Each day it hits me a little more how helpful it is being able to visualize where these events most likely took place. At this site we heard from Professor Eric Newburgh of Oral Roberts University about the Crusades. It was a good reminder that Jesus did not come to conquer the land through violence but rather win the hearts of the people as a peacemaker and the Messiah.

The view of the pass at Michmash was magnificent. I wish we could have gotten closer, but the panoramic view gave great context to the narrative of Jonathon and his armor bearer from 1 Samuel 13-14. What a sight it must have been to see such a small group of soldiers relative to the Philistine army drive them out back to Philistine territory over that terrain.

Jericho was more depressing than anything with the poor state of the site and the oppressive heat. One side of the site was relatively intact. The tower was still recognizable, but none of the walls around it were fortified, so any rain that comes through sinks the walls. The northern area of the Tell at Jericho was so sad. The mud walls had been demolished overtime by the elements and looked like they were crying with the dried drips along the cavern. After a quick stop at the store for a bathroom break and Magnum respite,  we headed over to Wadi Qelt in the Wilderness.

The meditation at the Wilderness was the perfect way to end our time at Benjamin today. During our independent time, I reread Matthew 4 and Mark 1. As the Temple Mount and Church of the Holy Sepulcher reminded me of Jesus’ humanity, the Wilderness reminded me of Jesus’s divinity. The vast sea of rocks is practically a playground of temptation that any person would fall into; only Jesus can resist the Evil One. What a God we worship!