First off let me preface my comments today with this, we are receiving and overwhelming amount of information and insight. As a completist I want to impart to you everything we are getting but that just isn't realistic or really even possible, therefore I feel like I'm letting you down. While I try to get over my guilty feelings let me tell you some of what we saw and heard yesterday.
Quick addendum to my post from yesterday. There are flat spaces in Israel, just not around Jerusalem. As we drove up to Caesarea by the Sea from Jerusalem there were lots of flat spaces, but there are always mountains on every side.
Our first stop was in Caesarea by the Sea (the Mediterranean Sea). This city was built by King Herod (the one that had all the young boys murdered after Jesus was born). He was a megalomaniacal nut bag. This city is totally ridiculous and was the Roman capital in Israel, meaning it was a sort of "Rome away from Rome". The city was built around 2 BC, so 2,000 years ago.
The picture below was in this huge theatre that Herod had built, it seated over 4,000 people and is an impressive structure for 2,000 years ago. This picture is our entire group sitting in the theatre. Fun times. These are all Young Life staff people in Houston and their spouses.
Herod was the puppet king of the Romans so he built the city for them. As I mentioned before he was a total maniac who killed babies and his own children. He really like this spot for a city and palace but there wasn't any drinking water so they built a 13 mile long aqueduct to bring in water from another region. If you look at my instagram photos you can see part of this aqueduct still standing. This is where all the important people lived. From 26-36 AD Pontius Pilate lived in Caesarea and ruled from here. He only went to Jerusalem during the Passover and other times when the locals might get out of hand.
Pilate lived in this palace which obviously is destroyed now, but was pretty darn cool in the first century. Beautiful location right on the sea. Like having a mansion in Malibu, California.
This is from a mountain called Megiddo overlooking the Jezebel valley. Beautiful valley, very lush and basically every army from everywhere in this part of the world has had to travel through this place to get to where they were going. Lots of blood and death. If you look over Jessica's right shoulder you will see a white strip along the ridge WAY behind her. That is the town of Nazareth where Jesus grew up!
This circle of rocks you see is what is left of an altar that was built to make sacrifices to a pagan god in 5,000 BC. That is 7,000 years old! Easily the oldest thing made by man that I have ever laid eyes on.
We ended up at the Sea of Galilee where we are staying for the next 4 nights. This is the body of water that Jesus walked on. This is where he calmed the storm, this is where all the miraculous catch of fish took place. Surreal to be here. The hills you are looking at is what was called the area of the Gerasenes in the first century. This is where Jesus healed the man who was possessed by many demons and would scream and cut himself. When Jesus cast the demons out of him they went into some pigs who ran into the water and drowned. The hills you are looking at are the hills the pigs ran down and went into the water from. Bam! This just got real!
It's so great to actually see these locations and be able to accurately visualize the places these events happened. We are getting a lot of great insight on context of all this stuff.
I'm writing this from our bus, which has wifi. Actually the bus wifi is better than the hotel so I'm going to try and write these as we move from place to place. If the images aren't loading you might have better luck seeing some of them on Instagram of Facebook. My Instagram name is @derekbonesteel.