Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Monday, May 16, 2016

Israel 2016, Day 9

We all know that the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. What most of us have been unaware of, until now, is how they came tumbling down. That's an even more incredible story!

We began the morning with a visit to the site of Gibeah. Gibeah sits on the far eastern end of the Benjamin Plateau, one of two adjoining plateaus directly north of Jerusalem and the one closest to it. You can read about Gibeah in 1 Sam 16. Saul made it the first capital of Israel. It is the Southern most city of the Plateau, about 3 miles from Jerusalem. The plateau is defined by Gibeon to the west, Mizpeh to the north, Geba to the east and Gibeah to the south. Each of these cities is vital to the defense of Jerusalem. The broad flat land of the plateau makes it the easiest access to Jerusalem but also its most formidable threat of attack.

At the top of the hill on the horizon is the site for Gibeon, which we visited yesterday and marks the western edge of the Benjamin Plateau. 
That's Jerusalem on the horizon, about 3 miles away. 
With Gibeon less than ten miles to the west and Jerusalem three miles to the south, it's easy to see the region is far more compact than most realize.  

We were able to overlook the site of Gibeah from the unfinished home/palace of King Hussein.  The site was abandoned at the end fo the war in 1967.

Dr. G did a teaching from 1 Sam 16. David is anointed king by Samuel. It is significant that David was declared king by God much earlier than  he actually ascends the throne. His anointing was only the earthly recognition of something God had already accomplished in David's life. Yet, David would not be the king in the eyes of the people for some time. 

Meanwhile, Saul lost his kingship in 1 Sam 13-15. He would continue to hold the office for a while but his reign was doomed. For both Saul and David, God ha declared their fates, proclaimed their positions and established their ends long before there was any apparent earthly evidence of His actions. 

Saul was the king the people wanted. God granted their wish and it turned out badly. Long before Saul was killed in battle, David had been declared king by God. God's perfect, sovereign plan worked out exactly the way He intended. His intent for our lives is similar. His plan will work out exactly the way He plans.

Next up? Gebeh, also known as Geba! I think the naming of Gibeon, Gibeah and Gebeh was some sort of cruel joke the Canaanites played on future generations, "Hey, Achmed! Let's give them names that sound like each other. Some history students 4,000 years in the future will freak out!"

We don't know the exact location of Gebeh but it was in close proximity to Michmash. Here's the modern town of Michmash.

Michmash sits right on the main entrance from the east onto the Benjamin Plateau (1 Sam 13:23). These are the passes mentioned in 1 Sam 14:4

Gebeh was where Jonathan and his armor bearer defeated the Philistines and averted disaster while Saul sat in the "pomegranate cave" (1 Sam 14:2-3). Reading about Jonathan's victory is impressive, seeing the location makes it breathtaking. Immediately to the south of Michmash is the "rocky crag" mentioned in 1 Sam 14:4. Here's what that crag looks like today. It's not very much different than it looked in Jonathan's time. 

The cliff on the right is the cliff Jonathan and his man climbed down. The  they had to scale the one on the left and engage in battle. Seeing all this makes the victory something that can only happen by God's hand. Jonathan's trust in God and His promise is incredible. That God can deliver a military victory out of two guys climbing up and down impossibly difficult cliffs, then waging war is glorious! 
What would an important site be without a steep and long climb??
We headed for Jericho next, traveling through the Judean Wilderness.  It is barren and strangely beautiful.

A Bedouin encampment/colony. 
These nomadic shepherd/farmers prefer to live apart from society. They are scattered through the wilderness.
More of the wilderness
Jericho is the self-proclaimed oldest city in the world. It is also the location of Elisha's Spring (2 Kings 2).

There are actually two Jerichos, one is the Old Testament Jericho, the one Joshua defeated. These are the ruins of that town. There is also a New Testament Jericho about a mile or so from the older one. Knowing this helps to resolve the tension between Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35. Mark has Jesus healing a blind man while leaving Jericho, and Luke depicts Him healing the man upon entering Jericho. Jesus had to pass through both Jerichos on his way to Jerusalem. 

Looking toward the newer town.
Most of us are familair with the story of the fall of the walls of Jericho found in Josh 6. But few understand truly magnificently God moved on this city. 

The ancient town, about 10 acres or so in size in Joshua's time, started out much smaller and had a wall around it's perimeter. As it grew, the social elite and the city government were located inside the walls while the rest of the population lived outside. Eventually, another wall was built to protect the entire 10 acres. This left the town doubly fortified by upper and lower walls.

Here's what ancient Jericho looked like in Joshua's time
Here's the construction o the walls according to archaeological findings.
The walls were important as Jericho sat right in the middle of the entrance into those passes that lead up to the Benjamin Plateau and eventually, down into Jerusalem. Jericho was a key trade center for anyone traveling from the east or southeast to the coast of the Mediterranean.

You can read about the walls coming down in Joshua. But, even when the walls fell, Joshua and his men had a very steep hill to climb. This would make it difficult to attack the city. 

But, God is better than we can imagine, isn't He?

Here's what the archaeologists found as the examined the site. Contrary to the topography of the hill and the construction of the walls, all the walls of Jericho fell outward. The height of the walls complimented each other nearly perfectly. The lower wall formed a ramp up the hill. The top of the lower wall fell so close to the bottom of the upper wall, the ramp led right to the heart of the city.

God was in charge of every detail of the battle. Not only that, He was in charge of the people who built the walls, the growth of the city, etc, etc and etc....

Seeing all this should give you and me comfort. If God can arrange all this so far in advance of the day He told Joshua to walk around those walls seven time, blowing trumpets...then make the walls fall in such a way that they make the conquest of the city easy for Joshua...He can surely arrange the details of our lives and take care of us!

Because Greek Orthodox tradition holds that the Mountain of Temptation lies just outside of Jericho, many of the shops around the town allude to it. I smiled when I thought about a restaurant named "Temptation". I'll bet their desserts are hard to resist. 

On the way back to Jerusalem, we made two more stops. The first one was at Herod's favorite home outside of Jerusalem.Of course, it was uphill!

Like all of Herod's construction, it bore a heavy Roman influence and was ultra-lavish.
This mansion was built close to the Wadi Qilt, a major water source for the region

We stopped at an overlook for the Wadi Qilt about 10 miles outside of Jerusalem. Somewhere along this wadi, the Romans built a road from Jericho to Jerusalem. The road was great for travel. But, it was dangerous and there were plenty of hiding places for thieves who wanted to ambush travelers. It was in a place very similar to this that the parable of the Good Samaritan was set. 

This guy wanted to sell rides on his camel for $10. When no one accepted, he said, "Come on! Obama gives you money! Give me some!" His brother was selling t-shirts. When I declined, he said, "Well, will yo give me your watch? I want to remember you. I like you!" 
Tomorrow morning, we go to the tunnels under the Western Wall and up to the Temple Mount. Then we have free time in the afternoon. My plan is to get caught up on some reading and allow these wobbly, sore legs to rest. We've been averaging a pretty solid 7 miles a day...did I mention there were a lot of steps and hills! 

Tuesday, we head the the Shephelah, the gently rolling hill country between the Coastal Plain and the Hill Country around Jerusalem. Access to the internet may be limited for a day or two. I'll try to keep in touch!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the Wadi Qilt is beautiful. You know, John, they probably built their homes on hills because that's where you get the best views.