Monday, March 31, 2014

Sea of Galilee Mornings

The most vivid image of our Sea of Galilee stay-
to the left is Mount Arbel.
Nearby Mt Arbel are the ruins of a Jewish settlement
 with a synagogue from the 4th century A.D.
There are also cliff dwellings
 from the 17th century built by the Druze.  
Josephus writes about the Roman conquest
 of some of the Hasmonean rebels
 who built in the cliffs of Mt. Arbel. 

Reflections- January 1-24-14

The morning light danced on the water-
lifting and lowering ripples like breath.
 Slanted light honored fishermen,
out in the boat casting nets,
just like 2000 years ago.
Echoes of the swarms of footsteps 
on the gentle waterside slopes-
Waiting for Jesus.
He is here. 
His words dropped like dewy grace
on the expectant crowds.
Life given abundantly to hungry people.
The Word alive. Forever touching lives.
The hidden life sustained.

Mornings gathered to remember.
Jesus- His presence changed the world.
                                                                                                         photos by JRDenninger

We leave this area to head south along the way-
 and "up to Jerusalem".

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Caesarea Maritima-- Four-The Hippodrome and Theater

The hippodrome shown here 
 held up to 10,000 spectators in 12 rows-
often cheering for chariot races.
Can you hear the cheering crowds?
A section on the south side 
was possibly rebuilt for gladiator fights.
Can you imagine the savage battles
                                                   and races right here?
The original theater was built by Herod.
This theater could seat about 3,500.
According to Josephus, 
this is where King Herod Agrippa I,
 grandson of Herod the Great,
was struck by God for not giving glory to God.
He was eaten by worms and died,
  as recorded in Acts 12.
The Theater stage

A group from the LCMS-Council of President's wives-
 getting ready to sing a hymn
 in front of the theater stage in Caesarea.
Tour leader, Tom, reading a piece of the
 bold faith statements of Paul in his trial here.
Paul often used this harbor in his missionary journeys. 
Later, Paul finds himself on trial in Jerusalem.
He is brought to Caesarea under heavy guard.
 Acts 23:23-35
Ananias, the High Priest, and Tertullus, a lawyer, 
had brought charges of misconduct against Paul
 before Felix, the governor.
Acts 24:1.
Paul is kept in prison for 2 years. 
Festus becomes the new procurator.
Agrippa II and his sister, Berniece, 
come to visit Festus,
 and state they would like
 to hear the man (Paul) themselves. 
In a dramatic scene, 
Herod Agrippa II and his wife Berenice, 
listen to Paul's case. 
Paul is called insane and mocked,
yet boldly testifies about his faith in Christ.
In a place and culture that viewed the "emperor" as god,
Paul prayed that they would all become believers in Jesus.
Agrippa tells Paul,
 "You almost persuade me to become a Christian."
 Acts 26:28

Yet, in these two years-
Felix and his wife Drusilla,
 Agrippa II and Berniece,
(older sister to Drusilla)
and those gathered here in Caesarea-
heard and yet did not believe.

Repentance is such a grace-filled place
 for us to live out our days. 
These birds flew overhead in our time of Casearea. 
For me- birds flying in formation has
always been a time of calling forth-
 to listen to the sound-
calling to FOLLOW.
And following has never been easy for Christians.

Later, Caesarea became an important center
 of religious study and training.
The great early Christian scholar and apologist, Origen, visited Caesarea in 231 CE and turned the city into a center of Christian learning. Origen built a huge library that became a magnet for scholarly study. When the Emperor Diocletian unleashed the Great Persecution (303-313 CE), Caesarea became the site for the death of a number of Christian martyrs, whose fates are described in the work of Eusebius, On the Martyrs of Palestine.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Caesarea Maritima- Three-The Roman Aqueducts

Herod the Great rebuilt the early Phoenician city
 called Strato's Tower, in 21 BC.
The early Romans began the systemic use
 of the arch structure 
which spans a space
 and supports structure and weight below it.
The lack of fresh water at Herod's new city
 required a lengthy aqueduct to bring water from springs
 at the base of Mt. Carmel- nearly ten KM away.

"Aqueducts moved water through gravity alone,
 being constructed along a slight downward gradient
 within conduits of stone, brick or concrete.
 Most were buried beneath the ground,
 and followed its contours; obstructing peaks
 were circumvented or, less often, tunnelled through. 
Where valleys or lowlands intervened,
 the conduit was carried on bridgework,
 or its contents fed into high-pressure lead, ceramic or stone pipes
 and siphoned across.
 Most aqueduct systems included sedimentation tanks,
 sluices and distribution tanks to regulate the supply at need."
As the population swelled- 
  one aqueduct was not enough.
 So, the Romans later built
 a second "lower" aqueduct 
and tapped into the older one 
and doubled its capacity.
 The same style and materials were used,
 so it is hard to see that the pair of tunnels
 were built in different ages.
John checking out the view
along the aqueduct.
on the sandy beach
You can walk right on the top of the structure.
sea side
The "Maritima" is added to distinguish this from 
Caesarea Philippi in the Golan Heights to the north.
A city that holds the story of 
Cornelius and Peter
in Acts 10.
Perhaps one of them stood here on the sand in this spot -
 looking out to sea and wondering about the great things
God was doing in the hearts of His people in this new time-
 encouraging them to act boldly.
And the same encouragement for ME today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caesarea Maritima-Two- The Pilate Stone

This is a replica of the limestone slab
 found here in 1961, 
with an inscription containing four lines of writing.
It includes the name of the Roman Procurator,
Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea.
This is where he ruled during the time of Jesus.
This is the same Pilate who sentenced
 Jesus to death in Jerusalem
 during the Jewish Passover. 
 Historically, it is a significant find,
 as it documents the existence of Pontius Pilate,
 as the ruler here,
in the time of Jesus.

Pilate probably travelled to Jerusalem-
 as was necessary to take care of his duties and charges. 

History and Biblical text often work together- 
to bring a more complete look at the story God
 was writing in those days.

God continues to write
 in the history of the world today.
His message is love, redemption,
and grace beyond measure
for ALL people.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Caesarea Maritima-One- The Harbor and City

Caesarea sits about 30 miles north of Joppa
 on the Mediterranean coast of Israel.
Herod the Great designed a huge harbor
 with inner and outer barriers here. 
Engineering techniques included using materials 
that would allow the concrete to harden underwater.
(secret ingredient for this is believed to be volcanic ash)
It took about 12 years to build the harbor which he named
 "Caesarea" in honor of the Roman Caesar Augustus.

Site of Herod's Palace-lower level-
 the largest of all that he built
Upper courtyard- Herod's palace-
Excavated and reconstructed areas

The sheer size of Caesarea makes it a challenge to excavate.
The ruins date from Herod's day
 to the Byzantine Period- 4-7th Centuries AD,
 to the Crusader time- 12-13th century. 
Much of it is unexcavated.
As we learned on this trip-
 archeology is about destruction, 
reconstruction and construction.

Steady excavation began in the the 1950's and 1960's.
Right and very top of this photo show 
Crusader and Ottoman era buildings. 
It is estimated that several hundred thousands
 lived here in the early Roman days. 
Current population is about 5,000 people.

The materials to build Caesarea
 were brought in from all over the Mediterranean.

Once Caesarea was completed, 
it became the heart of Roman rule in Palestine. 
This is where Pontius Pilate
 ruled in the time of Christ.

The modern city of Caesarea adapts
 as a commuter home to those traveling
 to Haifa or Tel Aviv.

Today, this city is known in Israel
 as having the only full size golf course,
 with spas, shopping and resorts
 to add to the tourist appeal. 

It still appeals as a city built by the sea.
The next few posts will tell a bit of the story 
of Caesarea Maritima.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Haifa University Museum- Israel- Part Two

The Menorah- 
the most predominant pattern in ancient Jewish art
The symbol for shalom- peace

The important and expensive purple dye

The exhibition focuses on
 the material culture of the Phoenicians, 
seafaring merchants who resided in cities
 along the coast of the Eastern Mediterranean basin, 
and their contribution to maritime architecture.
Part of the displays are actual stones
 from various Phoenician digs.

other exhibits-When pieces become whole again

Glass-first made in Cana

Phoenician boat- oldest in recovery

When pieces become whole again

Glass- first made in Cana

Widow's mites
a prolific find in Israel.
Certified, good quality coins
 can be purchased today
for under $100.

Real artifacts
telling the story 
 of real life 
in Biblical times.