bplist00_WebMainResource_WebSubresources ^WebResourceURL_WebResourceData_WebResourceMIMEType_WebResourceTextEncodingName_WebResourceFrameName_Hhttp://ginahansenconsulting.com/_sites/ginahansenonline/travel_1998.htmlO Travels to Israel, Jordan, Egypt & Denmark, 1998

Gina's Travels 1998

Israel, Jordan, Egypt & Denmark








[All items copyright Gina Hansen, 1998]

Some of the sites I visited on my trip include:  Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Caesarea, Haifa, Acre, Nes Amim, Shafa Amar, Sephoris, Nazareth, Mt. TaborMegiddo, Capernaum, Sea of Galilee, Mt. of Beautitudes, Caesarea Philippi, Taghba, Masada, Qumran, Jacob's Well, Beit Guvrin, the Garden Tomb, Nes 'Amim, Tiberius, the Red Sea, the Jordan River, Hebron, Ziporra, Bethlehem, Birzeit University, Jerusalem (Old City, Notre Dame hotel, Wailing Wall, Via DeLorosa, Holy Sepulchur, Temple Mount), Petra, Mt. Sinai, St. Catherine's Monastery, and Copenhagen.



     People ask me, upon return, how my trip to the Middle East went. I never know quite what to talk about… the diversity of people, the beauty in the land, the bitterness in the foods, the customs, the politics, this history… . Should I tell them about how my feelings towards the country changed several times? People told me that once you study abroad, it is never quite the same. It is also hard to share these experiences with others. Do people really have the time to sit down and listen to all of my explanations?

     The following is a journal of my trip to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Denmark, January 13 - 27, 1999.


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Overview of my Trip: Things I Will Remember

     I could never live in Israel for a long period of time, but I would love to go back and be able to experience the beauty and history of this amazing land. This is what I most often talk about with people who ask about my trip.
     Before I arrived, I must have thought the entire country was comprised of desert. I was shocked to see all of the greenery in the land. I think this is the reason why I picked some of my favorite places: the Galilee, Mt. of the
p_t_i_4.jpg (26350 bytes) Beatitudes, Dominus Flevit, the Garden Tomb and the Nes Amim Kibbutz. The churches and buildings of these places were not overly ornate. The natural vegetation and simplicity of surrounding areas helped me to appreciate the serenity of the place. It helped me to feel the Spirit with me, as I focused on what Jesus would have seen. It gave me a very strong setting for the biblical stories running through my mind. 



My Feelings on the Jewish People

     Israel is comprised of so many different parts. The religion, the people, the ways of living, are so very distinct. Christianity makes up only about 2.4 percent of the religion in the region. The other religions existing are Judaism and Muslim. Even though I was a minority, I felt very fortunate to have toured as a Christian pilgrim. Much of the county's income came from tourism, mainly a Christian audience. This may greatly influence the way Palestinians and Israelis view both Christians and tourists.
     Before I came to Israel, I was much intrigued by Jewish culture (religion, race, etc.). I find that I am still intrigued, but in a very differentp_t_i_3.jpg (6642 bytes) way than I once was. It was so eye-opening for me to see so many Jews, dressed in such traditional garb. I had only seen them, before, as the poor victim. Now, they were in their own land, their own community and could do as they pleased. I do not know how I felt about that.
     When I would meet other Americans or English speakers at the many different stops on my trip, I would instantaneously say "hello" and ask them where they were from. This seemed to be the case with every group, except the Jews. I wondered why. After studying a bit of Jewish culture before I left for my trip, I thought I had an understanding of the communal concept of their culture. When I arrived in Israel, I realized that this community did not include me and that they were not interested in reaching out to include me whatsoever.
     Many Jews claim that the Torah fulfills the same roles that Jesus does to Christians. This is only meant in the holiness of it all. In many ways, I wish the Jews had Jesus, for all of the examples in His teachings. I sometimes felt very much excluded, from the Jewish culture (and not just because I did not know the Hebrew language). Remember the story of the Samaritan who gave Jesus a drink of water at the well? The numerous occasions where Jesus associated with the Gentiles? Where He healed the leper? The story of the good Samaritan?
     Citizens of the State of Israel are very proud people, but they do not have the teachings of Jesus to help give them insight in solving their issues more peacefully. While I was there, I did not feel as if compromise was even given a chance. I wish the Jews had these stories to remind them to p_t_i_2.jpg (58704 bytes) be accepting and loving of all people, not just their own kind. I would suggest this to them if I could. Maybe it would help them with their land disputes and issues of hatred among their own country.
     Just as I was leaving the country, I wrote a very honest postcard to a relative. I said, "Do I think there is any chance for peace? I think not." It is sad to think of how drastically my original opinion changed, but I hope this prediction will be proven wrong before I die.


Tel Aviv

     The first place we stopped, after landing was in Tel Aviv.  It was there that we caught up with our guide from United Travel.  Found along the Mediterranean Sea, Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, from the time of Jordanian rule.  It's large size reminded me much of San Francisco, or Vancouver, Canada.   



     Now a place famous for artists, Jaffa is known Biblically as the place where Simon-Peter raises Tabitha, Acts 9:36, Acts 9:40-43.  Also along the Mediterranean, this place is also known for Israel's famous Jaffa oranges.   


     One of the first places we went was Caesarea, home of one of Herod'sp_t_i_32.jpg (49409 bytes) many palaces, this one being along the northern Mediterranean border.  It was absolutely beautiful.  The picture, to the right, is of one of the ancient aquaduct, and way of diverting water from the mountains other parts of the country.  Seeing this structure up close, one can observe its preservation.  Over the last 2,000 years, or so, sand has blown up and over it.  Essentially, it was buried, until its virtually unharmed rediscovery in modern times.  

     Caesarea is mentioned in Acts 8:40, Acts 9:30, Acts 10:1, Acts 10:24, Acts 11:11, Acts 12:19, Acts 18:22, Acts 21:8, Acts 21:16, Acts 23:23, Acts 23:33, Acts 24:1, Acts 25:1, Acts 25:4, Acts 25:6, Acts 25:13, Acts 25:24.

Caesarea Phillipi : Matt 16:13, Mark 8:27


     We visited one of Elijah's caves on Mt. Carmel, near Haifa.  The story of such a cave is mentioned in 1 Kings 18.  Located on the Mediterranean, Haifa is Israel's third largest port.



     Pronounced, "Akko" by the locals, Acre is one of the oldest walled cities on the sea. We also visited the ancient Crusader ruins and the famous Jazzar Mosque, the first mosque I had ever been in. On the way out, we also were offered some wonderful fresh squeezed orange juice. We paid only $1, but it would have cost $3 in the U.S.

Nes Amim 

We stayed at the Nes Amim Kibbutz, meaning "Sign of the Nations." A kibbutz is a self-sustaining community that seeks to help others. The goal of this kibbutz is aimed at improving relations with Holocaust Jews. The people here raise tulips to sell in the Netherlands, where the founders are from. They came here in the 1960s on a bus, which they lived in for so many years until the government considered them settlers. Then, they built the guesthouse, another means of income, the church/synagogue building (with no crosses to offend the Jews or remind them of the many times they were persecuted in the name of the cross).

This kibbutz is a small Christian settlement and place of learning, since 1963. Most of the 90 residents occupying the village are from Holland and Germany. They live and learn with the Jews in hopes of making peace with them from the event of the Holocaust. In order to fund their endeavors, they raise roses.


Shafa Amar

     This is the place where part of the Jewish Talmud and Mishna were p_t_i_36.jpg (41337 bytes) written.  Only a few miles from Nazareth, it is rumored that Jesus would have played with children from this neighboring village, also where he picked up his poker skills.
     It is also the location of Ellias Jabbour's House of Hope Peacecenter. 
p_t_i_35.jpg (50619 bytes)   The purpose of the center, says Jabbour, is, "not to change our view, but to listen to what [others] have to say."  

This was the first time my group began to understand other views of the conflict over who has the rights to this land. I used to feel so sorry for the Jews, but after visiting here, and being able to ask Jabbour any questions I have modified my opinions. The experience here, has also made me more interested in learning all of the details, before passing judgment or making a decision.

The Turkish coffee was something I'll not forget. The cardomin ingredients reminded me of Grandma's Finn bread. 



This is the place where Mary grew up.

     Because Nazareth was such a small village, it is believed that Joseph may have contracted work in the nearby Sephoris.  Many people believe that Joseph was a carpenter and believe that he used wood to build.  This common misconception clearly could not be true due to the lack of trees in the area and the amount of brick-like buildings from the time of Joseph.
     It was in this National Park that we visited what is commonly referred to the "Mona Lisa of Galilee."  This amazing mosaic is found in the bottom of a wealthy Jewish home.  



     Well, the name of the city, itself, evokes many memories of what this may be, but it was nothing compared to what we saw.  When I visited, much of the city was under construction.  It seems that this is just one of many sites that is renovating and building new hotels for the year 2000, when millions of tourists are predicted to visit.
     Along with the pastry shop, we visited three major churches.  The first one housed the well Mary would have used to obtain water.  Inside the church was a view of the water source.
     Then, we visited the Church of the Basilica, housing the cave where Gabriel visited Mary.  Along with this was the story of the Annunciation,
Luke 1:26-38Several murals depict Mary and Jesus in their own culture.  I took a picture of a mosaic of Chinese Jesus and Mary.  Sometimes we forget how much our own ethnocentrism plays into all of our views and interests.
     I was most intrigued by the Church of St. Joseph.  In all of Israel, it is the one place where Joseph is celebrated.  I took a picture of a really unique stained glass window depicting the way in which Jews became engaged.  In times where Mary and Joseph were dating, they would first talk to their priest.  Upon acceptance, the man would place the ring on Mary's right hand, on her fourth finger.  Then, during the wedding ceremony, the ring would be moved from her right hand, to her left.
     Near Canaan (Turon), we passed by the place where the Crusaders watered their horses before continuing south along their holy journey.


Mt. Tabor

     This is the place where Jesus revealed himself to the disciples, James, John, and one other.  Jesus did this as he spoke with Elijah, Moses, and Abraham.  Immediately, the disciples asked Jesus if they should build altars for them and one for Jesus.  He said they should wait until after he was gone.  This story can be found in Luke 9:18 7:9-17, 37.



     Otherwise known as Armageddon, Megiddo was destroyed 25 times.  The place of many battles on the trade route, this place is especially known for being difficult to enter due to the many triple-entry gates and other ways of entering the city.  It is also known for being occupied by Tutamous III.  King Ahab's famous waterworks are mentioned in The Source, by James Michener.



     It is interesting to think that this is the place where Jesus did much of His teaching. The town, itself, is only 1.5 miles long. This is the place where many would say Jesus called "home." This is the place he oftenp_t_i_39.jpg (43275 bytes) came back to, housing the very temple of His teaching.
     The following are only one, of several, parts of the gospel where Capernaum is mentioned. 
Matt 4:12-17
Matt 8:5-13, Matt 11:21-24, Mark 2:1-12, Mark 9:33-50, Luke 4:31-37, John 6:16-59.
     Dr. Pilgrim read us the story of the paralytic man, found in Mark 2:1.  This is one of our professor's favorite sites. Another reason why this site is so important comes from John 21. As mentioned in the Gospels, before Jesus rose from the dead, Peter denied his love for Jesus three times.  
     Located about 100 steps from the temple, we find the house of Simon-Peter. We know this because of the fish and anchor markings found within the house. It also mentions Jesus' name. Stilted above the house, now stands a massive church. Marking the place, the church also helps to preserve the building below.This story took place just below the Mt. of the Beautitudes, in Caperaum.  Jesus also preached in Simon Peter's house, found in this picture, can be revisited in Matt 17:24.
p_t_i_40.jpg (26666 bytes)     Just outside the temple walls, we also saw an engraving of what the temple would have looked like in Jesus time. There were two types of synagogues built during the third and fourth centuries. We know this would have been the church Jesus preached in because of the anchor marking His kind of teaching. The temple was destroyed several times. Once can see the different time periods by looking at the different types of masonry used each time in rebuilding the temple.
     Click here to read more about Capernaum.


Sea of Galilee 

p_t_i_28.jpg (19071 bytes)     After we toured Capernaum, we took a boat out into the Sea of Galilee.  The Jesus Boat, as it was called, helped me to realize just how much larger I had anticipated this Sea to be.  Reading about such an important place for many years of my religious upbringing made me realize just how much I had conjured up the image to be so large in my mind.
In all actuality, at some points, the Sea is only two miles wide. One story that came to mind was the story of the man possessed by demons.  Jesus sends the demons into the bodies of the sheep.  Then, the sheep run off the cliff, to their death.  From my view on the water, this story seemed very much believable.  Sitting on the water, I became very aware of the many journeys Jesus made back and forth across the shores of the Galilee.  Our boat was very similar to the actual shape of the ones used around the Jesus' day.
p_t_i_9.jpg (31181 bytes)     It is near this same place that Jesus and his disciples fed 5,000p_t_i_29.jpg (26928 bytes) with only two loaves of bread and five fish.  The accompanying mosaic marks this event.  It is also in the Galilee that Jesus walked on water, fetching his first disciples.  Once fishermen, these disciples previously caught fish such as the one I am about to eat with briney spiked fins.  The fish also resembles one eaten by Joseph, where a shekkel was found in the mouth of the fish allowing him to pay his tax in Jerusalem.
Stories mentioning the Sea of Galilee may be found in the following selections: Luke 5:3; Matt 7:23; Mark 4:39; Matt XIV:25; Luke 8:22; John XXI:6; John XXI:2 


Mt. of the Beatitudesp_t_i_41.jpg (21562 bytes)

p_t_i_38.jpg (18219 bytes)     I was very impressed with the Mt. of Beatitudes, in the Galilee. I felt as if I could just look out over the hillside and see the same sights Jesus would have seen. I was impressed with the green hills, the calmness of the Sea of Galilee.
     Matt 5-7 and Luke 6, both mention the many times taught in this place. It must have been frustrating for Dr. Pilgrim to read because there was this annoying plane that kept dive-bombing the area,p_t_i_23.jpg (29865 bytes) time and time again. Then, after the plane finally left, there was this crow that kept crowing. The nun attending to some of the landscape also looked frustrated. This was a place where the nuns would not even let us speak.
     Nonetheless, I still felt like this was one of the most holy places for me. The interruptions and noise created by the plane and the crow and distractions by a cat could not take away from that. This is when I knew that I was very focused.
     I sat beneath the arbor looking out among the land. I felt very happy, warm, and like it was a prime place for me to talk with God. I remember praying for my roommate, who seems so angry with me, and I prayed that I could feel Jesus in this place and could guess at some of the feelings he p_t_i_8.jpg (33705 bytes) must have felt here. I felt so calm; I never wanted to leave.
      I went inside the Catholic Church, but nothing compared to the serenity
I felt outside under the trees and sitting among the hundreds-year-old roots. Many of the flowers, even growing in the shade, were some of the most beautifulp_t_i_31.jpg (27543 bytes) ones I had ever seen. I was frustrated when my camera would not allow me to take close-up pictures of them. I wanted to take a piece of this beauty back home with me, to share with others.
     I guess what I will most remember from this place is how I was able to identify with my deeply rooted religious beliefs. Before, we had just toured some ruins of Herod's Palace and other historical sites of the land. This was the first time when I really felt God's presence. I believe I could now go to a place in my country and somewhat reenact that same feeling. Maybe I could share this with others, too.

Caesarea Phillipi

     This place was named for King Herod's son, Philip.  One of the stories mentioning Caesarea Phillipi can be found in Mark 8:27-33.  Caesarea Phillipi is the place where Peter asked, “Who am I?”
     Nearby, we also visited  Banias, a place where pagans worshiped the god, Pan
After reviewing the remnants of this place, we took a short hike through the woods.  Along this path, we viewed the source of the Jordan River, upon Mt. Herman.  Near the end of this hike, we witnessed a beautiful waterfall.
     This area is now inhabited by people of the Druz faith.  This secretive religion is passed along to the next generations as they come of age.  Up until that point, no one knows what this faith entails.  



     This is the place where Jesus fed 5,000 with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread; famous mosaic from the 4th or 5th century; Mark 6:30



     There are souvenirs all over Israel that read, "Masada shall never fall again." This site was a very important battle in Jewish history. It is so important, in fact, it is actually a site where many Israeli soldiers take their oaths.
     In 1982, Universal Studios filmed Masada in this very site. They actually left some of the catapults here.

Why is this site so important?

     It is amazing to think that the Jews could live up here for three years and see the enemy camped just below them. Originally, the fortress was built to hold 10,000 of Herod's soldiers. In 66 AD, a group of Jerusalem zealots occupied the fortress, the beginning of the first Jewish revolt. During the time of the great battle, Roman General Sylvia brought his own 10,000 soldiers and built camps around the mighty fortress. The Jews were self-sustained for three years. Then, when they knew they would be overtaken by the Romans, the Jewish leader convinced all but seven of his people to commit suicide. They chose ten men to kill everyone and then those killed themselves. Before the last one killed himself, he set fire to all of their belongings except food and water. The Romans ended up staying for 40 years and then abandoned the area until some monks came and built a church up there.
     Notes... Herod built this fortress in three levels. Almost every tourist to Israel visits this place. We are lucky that there are very few visitors here and it is not so busy today. The food stores here are very large. The Jewish leader also came up with a system for food distribution, using coins, so that each family was given an appropriate amount of food.
     The bathouses are comprised of a changing room, a cold room, and a bath room (a.k.a. steam room or coldarian). They floored the room on top of pillars. There was a furnace warming the floor through the pillars. When the floor reached a certain temperature, water was thrown on the floor and it created steam. Ventilation was created by the high arched ceilings. This way the water droplets would also roll away from the middle. As they condense and run down the walls, they would create the necessary water to be thrown on the floor, thus beginning the process all over again.
     There were also many swimming pools. Herod would dam the water from the flashfloods and aqueduct it to the cisterns. Then the water would be carried to the pools by hand. They had 130 cubic feet of water on the top of Masada.
     Masada is Israel's most spectacular archaeological site. It towers 300 meters (980 ft.) over the shores of the Dead Sea. The site was first fortified by Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.E.) to serve as ap_t_i_15.jpg (43313 bytes) military post to guard his southern border. King Herod took over the fortress in 43 B.C.E. after the murder of his father, Antipater. Later, during the revolt against Rome, Jewish fighters committed suicide here, rather then becoming Roman slaves, thus establishing a modern Israeli legend.
     One of the things that I found frustrating, in visiting this site, was they way in which they were turning it into such a tourist attraction.  Already, a cable car was added to more quickly escort people through the site.  A site that held such meaning for some, I was surprised to find that they were rebuilding the structures to appear as they once did, inhabited by the Jews.  Sure, one can view the discreet differences between the old and new walls, but this is a site where nature has taken its course.  Several earthquakes have destroyed the once standing walls.  The issue most upfront in my mind, was over whether or not it was right for people to reenact that which has been silent for so many years?  It reminds me much of the question surrounding the Titanic, which erodes more and more with each passing year.
     Read more about Masada from this University of Miami site.



     The Essenes were a messianic sect of Jews who sought isolation in the desolation of the Judean Desert in the 2-1 century B.C.E. Some believe the caves were used to store their parchment writings. Excavations in this area led to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
p_t_i_33.jpg (86498 bytes)     Often referred to as the homestay of the Essenes, I expected a lot more from Qumran. I think there is so little that we actually know about the
ancient Essenes. When I got to the actual site where the ancient Biblical manuscripts were found, I was disappointed because all it seemed to be was a place of study and education. I think I concocted a dream of a secretive, strict religious order. After seeing the site and evidence found there, I came to the conclusion that they had water for drinking and religious baths, tables for studying and writing, and maybe some places for food storage. Nothing more! The entire dwelling was not large enough to house the number of different scribes, comfortably.
     The scrolls were found in large clay pots, some of them, in the caves nearby. If the Romans destroyed this community, I do not believe it is possible for them to have destroyed every possibly shard of evidence indicating people living here for a period of time.
     I challenge myself to learn Hebrew so that I may go back someday and read the book of Issiah, housed in the Shrine of the Book museum (at right), in Jerusalem. After learning that Mary and Joseph lived in caves, I wonder if the people, be the Essenes or some other group which may have been living in this area, had lived in those caves as well. If that were the case, why has no one found any evidence surrounding this idea?
     The mystery behind all of the missing links continue to make this civilization so interesting to scholars and biblical enthusiasts. The rumor I had heard before was that some of the scrolls had talked about such things as magic and other things. This is an example of how renown they have become.
     For more than 50 years, scholars have been trying to piece together the words, and the material on which the scribes wrote. It is frustrating to think of how limited they have kept themselves. It is somewhat encouraging to know that they are now accepting others to be involved in this project, including Jews, women, and younger scholars. I think since they have opened it up to more people, many more discoveries have been made.
     The scrolls are currently being housed in the Shrine of the Book (above left) museum in Jerusalem's Israel Museum. An exhibit is also available at the US Library of Congress.
     The caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd looking for a lost goat in 1947. Scholars consider the scrolls and other fragments one of the most significant biblical archaeological discoveries of the century.
     Like the scrolls themselves, the nature of the Qumran settlement has aroused much debate and differing opinions. Located on a barren terrace between the limestone cliffs of the Judean desert and the maritime bed along the Dead Sea, the Qumran site was excavated by Pere Roland de Vaux, a French Dominican, as part of his effort to find the habitation of those who deposited the scrolls in the nearby caves. The excavations uncovered a complex of structures, 262 by 328 feet which de Vaux suggested were communal in nature. In de Vaux's view the site was the wilderness retreat of the Essenes, a separatist Jewish sect of the Second Temple Period, a portion of whom had formed an ascetic monastic community. According to de Vaux, the sectarians inhabited neighboring locations, most likely caves, tents, and solid structures, but depended on the center for communal facilities such as stores of food and water.
     Following de Vaux's interpretation and citing ancient historians as well as the nature of some scroll texts for substantiation, many scholars believe the Essene community wrote, copied, or collected the scrolls at Qumran and deposited them in the caves of the adjacent hills. Others dispute this interpretation, claiming either that the scroll sect was Sadducean in nature; that the site was no monastery but rather a Roman fortress or a winter villa; that the Qumran site has little if anything to do with the scrolls; or that the evidence available does not support a single definitive answer.
     Whatever the nature of the habitation, archaeological and historical evidence indicates that the excavated settlement was founded in the second half of the second century B.C., during the time of the Maccabees, a priestly Jewish family which ruled Judea in the second and first centuries B.C. A hiatus in the occupation of the site is linked to evidence of a huge earthquake. Qumran was abandoned about the time of the Roman incursion of 68 C.E., two years before the collapse of Jewish self-government in Judea and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
     Read the account of Vendyl Jones, a Qumran excavator.  Click here to read about the book of Enoch, found in infamous Cave 7.  


Jacob's Well

     This site is right in the middle of a Palestinian occupied territory, thus making it an infrequent stop for tourists. When we got closer to the area, our guide pointed out the hills the Samaritans still occupy today.
     I felt kind of weird drinking the water because of what Jesus says in the Bible to the Samaritan woman of Sychar. She will always thirst after drinking water of this well, but will be satiated after drinking the water of the Holy Spirit. This story is mentioned in John 4:5-6. The well is also mentioned in Gen.33:18-19 and Josh. 24:32 as dug by the Patriarch Jacob at the center of the parcel of grazing land he purchase from Hamor "for a hundred pieces of money."
     The well pictured at the left is near Schechem in the modern city of Nablus. The well is located right below the dwellings of a Samaritan civilization, still in existence today. The great importance and interest of the well can hardly be over-emphasized. The well is about 105 feet deep, the only one of its kind in the whole area, and its water is good. This is how they know the site is so accurate. Some believe it has the most solid evidence of any site in the Bible. The property belongs to the Greek Orthodox Church which has built over the well a large and unfinished church. This stands on the foundation of a Crusader church.


Beit Guvrin

     I had always hoped I would have the opportunity to go on an archaeological dig. I never anticipated that I would be digging in a cave, however. This day I learned an important thing about myself, I am p_t_i_7.jpg (25789 bytes) claustrophobic.
     It was amazing to see how the civilization living here was able to maximize their land, by building underground. Many of the people also ran factories, cisterns, and storage rooms from their basements. They would dig caves of complex design. Much of the city was this way and these were the kinds of things we were digging up.
     I learned I was claustrophobic when we went spelunking. Some of those caves were too narrow for me. When I saw the group crab-walking through an area about one and a half feet high, I decided that I did notp_t_i_6.jpg (28282 bytes) have to do this if I did not want to. So, I stayed above ground while I could no longer hear the voices of the others below.
     Aside from this fear, the digging process was very fun. First we dug and looked for things with spades. Then, we passed up our buckets of dirt to be sifted. Mainly we found pottery shards, but one person found a part of a spear. This was impressive. Also found here have been coins and some other impressive artifacts. I was lucky to learn some of the fundamentals of archaeology. One thing I learned, afterwards, was that just because the pot is cracked p_t_i_5.jpg (44214 bytes) and some of the pieces are missing, it is still considered a whole piece if one can then picture what the rest of the pot would look like and the shape it would encompass.
     I do not know when I will have the opportunity to do this, again, but I had a great visit and a very informative experience.
     To read more about Beit Guvrin and Tel Marisha, click here.


The Garden Tomb

     This site was not as historically important to me because it is hard for me to believe that this is the actual site of Jesus' tomb. If this is so, why did they finally "find" it in the 18th century? The interesting thing our guide pointed out was that if you believe this is the place and it helps you to think of how it must have been for Jesus, then that is the important thing.
     The rock they found really does resemble the skull of the rock, mentioned in the Bible. There is, indeed, a tomb that exists here, and it really does seem to be very old. There are two places to lay the dead and one of those places was left unfinished, as is mentioned in the Bible. Also, the site is just outside the city gates, also referred to in the gospels.
     The tomb, itself, is not very large. It may be about 20 feet long by 10-15 feet. There was a whole plan of the tomb, showed to us by our English guide.
     If nothing else, this tomb can give us a picture similar to one that Jesus would have been lain in. One of the most profound things our guide said was that we did not have to believe this was the place, just believe.
     The places we see only help give us a picture. He also told us what another tourist said after seeing the beautiful site and all of its amazing flowers, "This might not be the site, but I hope it was." It was nice to visit a site that was not changed or spoofed up in any way as a church or religious building or statue might have done.



Jerusalem is a place much fought over by the three p_t_i_1.jpg (35400 bytes) religions of Israel: Muslim, Jewish, and Christian.  The city is so divided, in fact, the "old walled city" above the second temple of King Herod's time (it was demolished in 70 AD).  The wall separates the old from the new.  We stayed at the Notre Dame hotel, across the street from the Christian sector (four in all) of thep_t_i_37.jpg (48065 bytes) "old city" and only blocks away from the city center of the "new city."  I was shocked one night to attend an internet pub and find pious Jews drinking in there, with no shame.  It was not something I expected of them.  Needless to say, after a bit of conversation, I learned they were New Yorkers.  Should they choose to do so, Jews who can prove their race and religion are granted citizenship in Israel.  This encourages the return to the land of Israel, after the various waves of the Diaspora caused Jews p_t_i_30.jpg (42340 bytes) to leave the promised land.
There was so much to see and so much to do in this city.  One of the places we visited in Jerusalem was a huge model of the second temple.  You could actually walk around the city, as it was in 70 AD.  The actual size of the second temple, is described in the picture, where I am standing near the Western Wall.   It is amazing to think the Romans conquered the Jews by throwing stones even larger than these.   p_t_i_10.jpg (42995 bytes)p_t_i_11.jpg (34029 bytes)The picture to the right shows Hadrian's arch, and also the damage caused to the great temple via the destructive Roman catapults.  It almost looks as if earthquakes struck the area.  Walking around the old city, masons must be jealous.  Despite earthquakes, the Romans really had something going for them.  It is utterly amazing to realize this structure has stood intact since the last time it was conquered, by the Turks, I believe.  Today, the building does not necessarily belong to any one of the three religions.  I was also awestruck when we walked the Via de Lorosa, or the twelve times Jesus stopped, as He carried the cross top_t_i_12.jpg (30411 bytes) the place of His death. Underneath the city, we walked upon some of the very stones Jesus must have walked as he entered the temple.
Later we visited the Western Wall (a.k.a. the "Wailingp_t_i_13.jpg (25294 bytes) Wall").  It was p_t_i_17.jpg (30919 bytes)disturbing for me to note the separateness of the genders at the wall.  It was frustrating to notice that the women were granted 25% of the wall in which to p_t_i_16.jpg (24574 bytes)pray, and the men's sector, mostly empty, 75%.  But, like other areas, the men entering holy Jewish places of worship were expected to donn jamulchas atop their head, in reverence to the holy place.  I must say they almost looked silly with their little paper hats (they almost reminded me of cheap party hats), but I do understand the respect expected at such an important place.  I wasp_t_i_18.jpg (43609 bytes) both surprised and angered to see the six stars, as a memoir of the six million Jews killed in World War II.  Oftentimes, pilgrims to this p_t_i_14.jpg (38752 bytes)country, and others praying at the wall, finely roll prayer requests on bits of paper into the wall.  If everyone performed this "rite" in visiting the wall, who would clean up all of the papers, when they fall out?  The area doesn't get much waters, so its not like the rain will break the paper down back into earth.  We also visited the Holy Sepulchur.  Click here to read more about it. Also read about the Temple Mount

We also visited the Via Delorosa and walked the 12 stations of the cross, marking one of Jesus' miracles at each point. Here is a small description.


  • Opening - Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Matthew 26:36-39

  • First Station - Jesus is condemned to death, Mark 14:61-64; Psalm 2:2 & 7-8

  • Second Station - Jesus carries his Cross, John 19:14-17; Isaiah 53:1-3

  • Third Station - Jesus falls the first time, (see Notes 2, below) John 15:18-20; Isaiah 63:2-5

  • Fourth Station - Jesus meets his mother, (see Notes 3, 5 below) John 19:25-27; Lamentations 2:13

  • Fifth Station - Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his Cross, Mark 15:20-22; Psalm 141:2-5

  • Sixth Station - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus, (see Notes 4, 5 below) Matthew 25:37-40; Sirach 6:14-17

  • Seventh Station - Jesus falls the second time, Isaiah 53:4-6; Isaiah 53:7&9

  • Eighth Station - Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem, Luke 23:27-28; Lamentations 1:12&16

  • Ninth Station - Jesus falls a third time, Psalm 118:25-28; Psalm 26:1-3

  • Tenth Station - Jesus is stripped of his clothes, Matthew 27:34-35; Job 5:17-18; Psalm 68:21-22

  • Eleventh Station - Jesus is nailed to the Cross, Luke 23:33-34; John 19:18; Psalm 21:2-3 & 15-16

  • Twelfth Station - Jesus dies on the Cross, Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30

    Thirteenth Station - The body of Jesus is taken down from the Cross, John 19:33-34&38a; Ezekial 37:12-14

    Fourteenth Station - Jesus is laid in the tomb, Matthew 27:59-60; Psalm 29:2-6

    Last Station (the Altar) - The Resurrection of Jesus, Mark 16:1-6


Other places we visited  p_t_i_27.jpg (32077 bytes)

p_t_i_26.jpg (49669 bytes)Tiberius: We went snorkeling in the Red Sea and also had the good fortune to view the beautiful reefs from a glass-bottomed boat. p_t_i_34.jpg (66422 bytes)

p_t_i_25.jpg (89043 bytes)The Jordan River and the place where many Christians choose to be baptized in the same river where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer.  Oftentimes pilgrims renew their baptisms in this river.  In fact, Dr. Pilgrim reads in front of the gated ramp down into the river in this picture.

Hebron.  Click here to learn more about the Hebron Massacre and why security was so strict in this region.  It was only very recently that Israel removed their troops from patrolling this sacred site.

Ziporra gave us a deeper meaning for mosaics, their construction, destruction, and reconstruction. The following three pictures give a visual picture description attesting to this.  

p_t_i_19.jpg (20508 bytes)p_t_i_20.jpg (25702 bytes)p_t_i_21.jpg (41446 bytes)

p_t_i_24.jpg (28378 bytes)In Nazareth, we were introduced to the cave that Jesus' family inhabited and grew up in as a child.  Then, we traveled Bethlehem and witnessedp_t_i_22.jpg (23657 bytes) his birthplace, and the cave (not barn-like thing) where the livestock were kept.  The silver star in this picture p_t_i_43.jpg (33962 bytes)marks the exact place of his birth. 

We snorkled in the Red Sea.  Though the water was as cold as it is in the Pacific Northwest in the summertime, somehow the fish and amazing reefs are able to survive the cold.  p_t_i_42.jpg (39255 bytes)

Birzeit University 

FAQ about Jordan

Jordan Times



















Petrap_t_j_2.jpg (67660 bytes)

     Petra is important to Christian history because it is one of the first areas where a group of people, the Nebotians, were converted to Christianity. Originally, the Nebotians worshipped many gods and were influenced by the Greeks. Later, the Romans came along, and then other groups, of Queen Helena's time, brought Christianity. It is unique to see how the Nebotians were affected after encountering different groups of people. The evidence remains in the statues, temples, and houses that were carved or built. Some are very ornate, whereas others are more streamlined, exemplifying the architecture of the time period.
     It cost us about thirty dollars to get into the ancient city of Petra, but it
was well worth visiting. Oftentimes people take tours and backpacking trips into the national jewel. The caves and tombs, have been carved and dug out of sandstone. They date from the 4th century BCE. Some Beduoin tribes live here and in the surrounding areas, today. This place is like the Grand Canyon of Jordan. For 1200 years this city was lost and forgotten. The pavement that we walk on is Roman. Some of the tracks from the Roman chariots are still visible in the rock pavement.
     As we walk into the siq, we note how high the walls are and how protected we are from surrounding winds and other storm weather. After walking through some tombs we find ourselves peering at part of a temple,
p_t_j_3.jpg (6225 bytes) used in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The building itself is very massive. Each pillar must be about 20 meters high. This does not include the second story with its amazing statuesque figures. The inside of the building, itself, is actually just a big massive room, but from the outside, many are aghast. These buildings and others, were carved by scaffolding from the top down. This way, the lower parts of the building would not be damaged after completion. Our guide tells us that it takes only about 2-3 hours to carve out a tomb for one person, however, this building must have taken days to carve out.
     Then, we hiked up 900 steps to the highest peak. There was also an amazing temple at the top. There were no icons visible, one of the ways we know it is Nebotian. From the peak we climbed to, we were able to see Aaron, Moses' brother's, tomb. It was windy, but very beautiful.
     The day before we drove by bus to the top of Mt. Nebo, where God
p_t_j_1.jpg (58902 bytes) showed Moses the land of his ancestors. Even though the day was cloudy, it was amazing all that we could see from this area. It was disturbing to me that I saw so many soldiers on the holy ground, suggesting it was unsafe.
     Nonetheless, the hike was very beautiful. I took many pictures and it reminded me of the many hikes I hope to participate in when I return. Once populated by 30,000 people, it is amazing to think that 98 percent has been left untouched and remains under the sand. 


Egyptian State Information Services

Egypt Magazine

Egyptian Presidency






































Mt. Sinai

     On this day, we headed for Egypt. This will require crossing two borders. We will have been in three countries in one day. It took three hours to get through all of the checks. Going from Jordan into Israel took especially long because we had to open all of our bags. We were only in Israel for ten minutes, but it was beautiful. We crossed over along the coast of thep_t_e_2.jpg (109269 bytes) Red Sea (containing over 1000 species of fish and is over 240 kilometers long), the Agaba coast, often used by divers and snorklers (which we later had the opportunity to do in Israel). We will soon be on our way to St. Catherine's Monastery.
     There are also Beduoin people living in Egypt. They are like the American Indians of the Middle East. Many of them are still nomadic. There are eleven different tribes here.
     We are passing the Coral Island, Ferron, a place of royalty. King Tutmose was the last royal to stay there in 1500 BCE. Like other islands, this one is also made up of metamorphic rocks.
The guide is also Muslim, as is most of Egypt. The country of Egypt considers itself a part of Asia. I found this interesting because it is found on the continent of Africa. Egypt gets very little water, 22 mm per year. But the Beduoin know how to conserve, dam, and save water. The ancient Egyptians came to this land in 3500 BCE. The Sinai Peninsula is also known for its turquoise. 55,000 Beduoin are living in Sinai.
     St. Catherine, where we will begin our climb up Mt. Sinai, is 2400 km high. Tomorrow's wake-up call will be at 3:30 a.m. and we will hike for three hours.
p_t_e_3.jpg (24336 bytes)     Cairo is a huge city, with 24 million people. I guess there is no moon during this time of year, so we will need a torch or flashlight for the climb.
     The trees here are special to the Beduoin. They will not cut them down because of the shade during the 55 degrees C. weather, in the summer. The camels can eat from the trees or for goats to eat shaken flowers, however. Camels, themselves, only sleep for only 30-40 minutes a day and live for about thirty years.
     As I look at the coast, I realize its beauty. It reminds me of pictures I have seen of Hawaii and also the southern California coast. Because it is winter, it makes the weather bearable, but it also is the greenest time of year. We are very lucky to be here during this season. 



St. Catherine's Monastery

     I rode a camel up most of Mt. Sinai. It was really beautiful, and I was very fortunate to have seen the same stars from the other of the world. I p_t_e_1.jpg (20654 bytes) was scared to get on and off of the camel because it gets up only hind legs or front legs at a time, leaving the rider at a 45 degree angle. Once it got going, however, I became more relaxed. After we got most of the way up, we walked an additional 700 steps to the top. It was worth it to get up so early, because the sunrise was absolutely as it flooded over all of the surrounding mountain regions.
     After our descent, we visited the monastery. The first place we stopped was the skull house, a way to ensure the Greek Orthodox monks in their second life. Essentially, there was a pile of bones in one gate, and skulls in another. Stefanus, one of the famous monks, was encased in glass. He would wait at the arches of the sky, which we saw when we walked down the 2,000 steps. Stefanus asked to be buried in this glass case with all of his bones in his monk's robe. This sight greeted us as we first looked into the skull house.
     Now we are visiting the monastery, usually off limits to the public. It is unfortunate, but many people joined us and rushed in as we were entering. It was especially difficult to get in, because today is the third day of the national Ramaden holiday.
      This monastery encompasses all three religions represented in this part of the world: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim. We visited the burning bush of the Old Testament. It is the only vegetation of its kind in this area, one of the reasons they know that it is a pretty accurate guess that it could be the very one that Moses encountered. The bush itself, actually looks like a huge, overgrown ivy plant, encased by eight foot long walls. Very old, the bush needs no irrigation and seems to grow on its own. Connecting the bush to the New Testament, the Roman Queen Helena transplanted it to grow in the foyer when she built a new church to commemorate the site. When the Turks invaded in the 9th century, they built a Muslim Mosque. T
p_t_e_4.jpg (45821 bytes)his site is very important to all three religions.
     The well we saw, is also the well where Moses met Ziporra, his future wife. I was able to tie this into The Prince of Egypt movie I just saw. If I am correct, she would be similar to the Beduoin natives of this land.
     The library is famous for encasing one of the oldest biblical manuscripts, dating from the 4th century AD. It is too bad we could not have seen this, but due to the holiday and all of the other people let in to the monastery, we were not allowed. We just have to know that this is the place where it came from. The German who found it, learned Arabic, and became familiar with the monks. One day, he noticed they were feeding this old paper to the fires and stopped them. This is how he found it. 





Click HERE to read my return to Denmark blog excerpt from 2006

















p_t_d_1.jpg (15700 bytes)Copenhagen (aka Kobenhavn)

     I was really impressed by Denmark. I visited Copenhagen during the middle of winter, so it was no surprise to find it was snowing BOTH times.  Despite freezing temperatures, I was still able to appreciate the history of the land through its architecture.  I wish the p_t_d_2.jpg (41874 bytes) United States would learn to do as the Danes: refurbish the buildings that they already have.  Americans have much to learn from Danish masonry.  Apparently, the Danes receive a significant tax discount for refurbishing their existing homes.  
     The beginning of our tour began at the water's edge, where we met the
p_t_d_7.jpg (28459 bytes) mermaid, who greets the incoming tourists.  On this p_t_d_6.jpg (27166 bytes)Sunday morning, I had the chance to catch a glimpse of the Queen, probably returning from a hair appointment.  She drove a Jaguar into her castle, during the changing of the guards.
     My other impression: expen$ive, but perhaps this applies to all of Europe, not just the Norwegian sweaters.  I paid the equivalent of $12
p_t_d_3.jpg (22268 bytes) for a sandwich and latte (they do not seem to know the concept of flavoring in lattes of any sort), and I considered myself lucky to afford such an inexpensive meal.  It was the best sandwich I ever tasted, though.  I never expected that salmon could be sliced so thinly. The Cafe Norden resteruaunt described most of Europe, as I also ordered a latte.  They had not heard of adding any flavorings, much less.
     When we returned, after visiting Israel, Jordan, and Egypt,
p_t_d_5.jpg (41434 bytes) it was night time.  In the morning we'd be leaving.  This is when it became obvious that most people did not rely on automobiles for transportation.  In fact, this train station features several filled bicycle racks in front of it, more than I have ever seen in the United States. 
     The shops closed early in the night.  Due to the freezing temperatures, walking around the area was little or no option.  Despite this, I tried anyway, only to find myself in the Hard Rock Cafe, one of the few American-like restaurants in the area.  This was not by choice, however.
p_t_d_4.jpg (23610 bytes) In the short amount of time of which I had the good fortune of visiting, I was hoping to suck in as much culture as possible.  I hope to visit in the future and have the time to appreciate this fine country for what it is.  

Associated with Pacific Lutheran University Study Abroad Office, all items copyright Gina Hansen, 1998

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