Walking to Kursi (the town whereabouts Christ cast out the demons
from the demonic into the herd of swine.)
Our first stop of the day was at the Kursi – the site where Christ cast out the demons of the demoniac across the sea. On his way over, Jesus fell asleep in the boat and a great storm suddenly arouse. This is rather common as the topography on the west side acts as a wind channel, funneling the wind from the Mediterranean right over the Sea of Galilee. Waves can get as high as five to eight feet. With the disciples in a boat of only a couple feet deep, no wander they shouted, "Lord, we are going to perish!" Just recently, here on the lake, a father and son disappeared during one of these sudden storms. Once on the other side, they found themselves in the Decapolis – a 100% gentile region. The disciples were probably aiming toward Gaulinites as here they at least had a fifty percent Jewish population. However, Christ has other plans. Here Jesus cast the demons out of the demonic, but the demons were permitted to enter the swine. The herds rushed down the hill and perished in the sea. This devastated the economy of the city for the swine would have been their savings account and lively hood. However, the demonic could now be restored to his family, community, and region. When they came to investigate this atrocity, they found the demoniac sitting at Jesus feet (a disciple), fully clothed, and in his right mind. What a shock! The man wanted to go with Jesus, but Christ commissioned him to spread the news of what God had done for him. Perhaps he wanted to go out of gratefulness, perhaps because of the stigma attached to the demoniac he had been. Either way, this man went home and spread the news throughout the whole region. Interestingly, when Jesus does miracles among the gentiles, he tells them to spread the word, but when he does miracles among the Jews, he tells them to tell no one. From our lecture site, we could make out the hill where the pigs likely plunged into the sea, the likely place of Genesaret, and the Sea of Galilee. When we headed back down, we took a brief look though a Byzantine monastery (the main attraction of the park) and admired the mosaic floors.
Laura from Asbury Seminary demonstrating how to
smash the grapes underfoot - be sure to hold onto the
rope - the floor gets a bit slick!
Our next stop was at Qasrin, a Talmudic village and synagogue from the first few centuries AD. Although this is a bit after the first century, construction and way of life would have been quite similar to that in Jesus' day. Some of the site has been rebuilt to give the individual a feel for a home and village in this time period. Here we could view a "house under construction," and a typical first century home. In the Middle East, there is no concept of personal space. This is true in first century life. The roads are narrow, and your neighbors are exceptionally close. The home had three rooms on the lower floor, an upper bedroom, an outdoor courtyard, and a semi-covered workroom. Inside the home, it was dark with very small windows. Here we discussed the work of a carpenter. Although a carpenter would work with wood, he would have primarily worked with stone. He would have an eye for how to build walls, level doors, etc. He would also have to be a rather strong man to maneuver the stones into place. We then headed over to the local synagogue (just around the corner). This was a very nice synagogue in its day with cut stone and decorated columns and artistic carvings. While we were there, a Jewish gentleman was selling a handwritten phrase from the Shema on parchment. Afterward, we were given some time to explore the site and get some pictures. Down another path was a pottery shop and loom. This site gave us a good feel for first century life.
|Overlooking the Sea of Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes|
Next, we headed back toward the Sea of Galilee – or as it is on modern maps, the Lake of Galilee. We topped atop the Mount of Beatitudes. It is believed that it was somewhere in this vicinity that Jesus gave his most famous sermon on the mount. Matthew says he was on a mount, Luke says he was in a plain – actually, both may be correct up here. Although it is a mount, there is also a plain along the side of the mountain. On the other hand, as I have heard before, it could be a similar sermon in a different location. Either way, from here one can see "a city on hill" and a view of the city were fishermen would go to "salt" their fish. Jesus is using visual imagery that relates directly to his audience. We hiked down to the Sea of Galilee and caught the bus to Capernaum, Jesus' Galilean headquarters. Several springs enter the lake here, making it a rich fishing community. Although Peter was originally from Bethesda on the other side of the sea, it appears he moved over to Capernaum with his in-laws. This would have been beneficial to him as any catch brought across the border between Gaulanitis and Galilee to be salted would have been taxed – possibly even Mathew, the tax collector. On one occasion, Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law while in Capernaum. Peter's house may be located here in Capernaum. It seems early on it was converted into a house church and later the Byzantines added a more formal church around it. Today, a huge church dome saucer like building sits above the site. Just down the street is the cities synagogue. The visible basalt foundation dates to the first century – perhaps this is the remnants of the church that the centurion built for the Jews. The remainder of the present synagogue dates to a few centuries later. With that, we concluded our day and returned to Ein-Gev to catch our breath before our long day tomorrow.
|Looking toward Kursi|
|Look way in the distance - that steep cliff going down into the Sea of|
Galilee - that is the likely site where the pigs ran down into the sea.
|Here's a bit closer - the modern road has made the present cut out above|
|Walking back down toward the Byzantine era chapel at Kursi|
|The Byzantine Chapel|
|With lots of beautiful mosaics!|
|The floors are covered in all sorts of designs.|
|And some elegant pillars|
|Lots of Flowers ...|
|And more unique flowers ...|
|Arriving at our next destination - Qasrin Talmudic Villiage|
Here is some modern art in the entry as we wait for the
rest of the group to collect
|Lecture at the olive press - this is stage one - crush the olives.|
|This is stage two - smash the olives|
|but first but the crushed olives in one of these basket-like|
|The olive oil will run out into this jar. Olives in this era were too valuable|
to eat. One either made olive oil, cosmetics, etc. It hasn't been until more recent
times that olives have been eaten as we are accustomed.
|The final stage or alternative smashing process would be to use this|
contraption. The olive baskets would go on the left and the rocks would be
cranked up, putting tremendous pressure on the olives forcing out the last bit
|Walking down the Qasrin community. Notice how narrow the|
|The windows in the house are very small and up high.|
Large windows would make it too cold in the winter.
And with this style, a large window would be a bit unstable.
|Ladder to upper room (bedroom)|
|Looking back over the main room. The hanging boards|
is your ancient refrigerator. Here things will be kept
the coolest and the furthest from any little critters.
|Courtyard. Around to my right is the workshop.|
|In the workshop - the rolling pin like object is a roof roller. One would take|
this tool over your thatch mud like roof to back it down and seal it as much
as possible. But when it rains, you're going to get muddy drips in the house
|Entering the Synagogue just around the corner.|
|Mr. Rabbi (not really) walking across the synagogue - he didn't even seem|
to know the full Shema - only the first line ;)
|Standing in the Qasrin Synagogue|
|Writing out a portion of the Shema with feather and ink|
... for only five dollars ... just for you! ... I'll pass on that one.
|Looking toward the reparied house. The workshop is on the left (with the roof)|
and the house on the right of the same structure.
|A look into the upper room in the restored house at Qasrin|
|A building "under construction"|
|Loom at Qasrin|
|Again, looking over the Synagogue|
|Hiking down the Mount of Beatitudes by the Sea of Galilee|
|Looking up toward the Church of the Beatitudes|
|Arriving at Capernaum|
|Looking toward the sea from Capernaum - the headquarters of Jesus' ministry|
|Standing in Capernaum overlooking the Sea of Galilee|
|Wow! That's a large ... whatever it is.|
|Peter standing on the Rock|
|Hmm ... we still build churches over holy sites ;) ... Just a little bit|
different style though. - Church sits above Peter's house.
|Inside the Byzantine octagonal church is Peter's house here in Capernaum|
|Standing outside Peter's house.|
|Looking toward the Capernaum synagogue|
|Looking inside ...|
|Lots of construction going on in Capernaum!|
|Looking back over the town toward Peter's House|
|See those black foundation stones? Those date roughly to the first century.|
They could be the very stones the God-fearing Centenarian helped to build
for the Jews here.
|Standing in the Synagogue|
|Look at the detail of the sculpting!|
|And there's a Star of David with some flowers ...|
|Inside the church over Peter's house ... I slipped in with another group. It|
was locked when I came by earlier. Not sure if I'm actually supposed to be
here, so I'll make it quick ;)
|Passing back over the Jordan River heading back to Ein-Gev|
|The Sea of Galilee from the Northeast|
|More banana fields!|