Saturday, July 13, 2013

NT Day 8: "Lebanon"

Courtyard in the Church of the Annunciation
This morning we headed out from St. Gabriel's to northern Galilee at the uppermost frontier. Before leaving Nazareth, Dr. Wright stopped for pieta bread near the Church of the Annunciation, so several of us ran in to catch a glimpse of the church in the daylight. This time pictures were permitted and the upper chapel was open. After a few minutes we were headed out to our first official destination at Baram on the Lebanese border. Biblically, this area would have been referred to as Lebanon, although actual power control varied on the strength of Tyre. Baram was inhabited up until 1947. After Israel took the land during the war, they gave citizenship to the Arab Christians living here, but required that they move in order to create a border zone between Israel and Lebanon. Most of those who come back here are the second and third generations of those who lived here. They are still petitioning the government to allow them to move back. Many can still point to where their dad or uncle used to live in the village. The significance of the site is the synagogue found here. The style of synagogue is from either a Roman or Nabeataon form. The question is raised as to whether it was a synagogue built like one of the pagan basilicas or if it was converted later. We really do not know much about the site's history. Baram is not really mentioned until the 16th century. By then, the site was already in ruins. The style is from the first few centuries, but we cannot really say for sure. It would have been somehwere "like this" that Jesus would have talked to the Canaanite Phoenician women about the healing of her son.

Our next stop was at Kadesh in the ancient Tyre district. Here we have an unexcavated Roman Temple in a very similar design as to that at Baram. The site has changed little since Edward Robinson was here in the late 1800's. As there had been a recent fire in the area, the site was very easy to look across and see the features. Again the temple built here is very Roman in style which would lend us to believe that the other temples / synagogues in the area were at least patterned after if not converted pagan temples.

The "Arab" look - did you know that the red and white patterned head scarves
are Arab and the blue and white are Israeli. They were developed by the 
English to differentiate at a distance. - At least that's what our Jordanian
tour guide told us while in Jordan. (at Omrit)
Our next stop was at the base of Mount Herman at Caesarea Philippi or Panius as it would have been called in more ancient days. Although Jesus was probably not here specifically when addressing his disciples, he was in the district – enough that the worldview and connotations thereof would be associated with Christ's conversation. We once again hiked to the Banyis falls. From here, we headed out to Omrit - a site I am willing to guess very few people have visited. It is off the beaten path of the tourist. Omrit has only been excavated in the last fifteen years and is still well under way. Prior to the recent discoveries at Omrit, it has been believed that one of Herod's three temples to Augustus was at the mouth of the stream at Caesarea Philippi. However, it would be odd for Hared to build a temple in a place already devoted to the god Pan. Rather, Josephus says it was nearby the source of the Jordan river. Omrit fits this location. Here at Omrit, three temples have been discovered – each an expansion of the other. The first expanstion is certainly Herodian in style. The molding around the outside is the same style found on the Herodium itself. It appears the temple was expanded again, perhaps under Herod's grandson King Agrippa, but the expansion could not match Herod's quality and splendor. Again, this is a new dig. Much of what has been found has not yet published. It is exciting to step into the middle of such an archeology dig and publication process. From here, we headed an hour south to Ein Gev on the Sea of Galilee for our remaining two nights here in the region of Galilee.  
Church of the Annunciation

Just about every nation has donated an image of Mary to the church. Here
is Ukraine's contribution. 

The modern church is built on the remains of the Byzantine Church.

Inside the grotto is the supposed location that the angel
Gabriel visited Mary with the news of the Son.

The upper chapel. 

Looking up into the dome. 

Images of Mary and Gabriel everywhere ... even in the floor tile.

Here is American's image of Mary ... rather "unique"

Outer courtyard of the images of Mary from all over the world. 

At the Church of the Annunciation. 

Driving North, passing the Arbel Cliff (Just on the other side is the Sea of

Entering Biblical Lebanon - (Modern day northern Israel) - Notice the
"Cedars of Lebanon"

Walking to Baram - a village occupied until 1967 when the Israel's took
possession of the land. Although many of the Arab Christian communities
were given citizenship and allowed to stay in their hometown, those of
Baram were forced to leave as it is "too close" to the modern Lebanese

The main Synagogue at Baram 

Inside the Synagogue (was likely a Roman Temple before it
was converted into a synagogue). 

Remains of the second synagogue

The Maronite Arab Christian Church at Baram. The Maronites are largely
independent, but kept their allegiance to Rome after the Great Schism. 

Outlook from Baram

This region of "Lebanon" shifted back and forth between Israel and Tyre
depending on the strength of the nations. 

Overlooking the Baram country side

Heading further up into the biblical region of Tyre (still on the Israeli side)

Way over there - with the bare mountain - that's Lebanon. 

Arriving at Kadesh - a city within the borders of biblical Tyre

Due to a recent fire over the tel, the stones and structures are easily visible

Edward Robinson visited here back in the 1800's. The site is largely unchanged
since his visit. What he describes is exactly what we see. Robinson thought
the remains here were Jewish in origin, but the modern consensus is Roman. 

Sarcophagus at the site. 

The remaining wall of the temple.

Again, this site has not yet been excavated by archaeologists, but detail
drawings of what is visible above ground have been made. 

Outlook from Kadesh

The actual entrances are on the right and left sides. The big opening in
the middle appears to have been blocked for entrance - used rather to light
up the temple - particular with the morning sunshine. 

Overlooking Kadesh

The left entrance.

Just don't push on the wall too hard ... there isn't much
keeping it up!

Arriving back at our bus, we found the Israeli military are apparently
doing some training in the area. 

Looking out over the rift valley. 

Back at Caesarea Philippi - Ionic Capital

Corinthian Capital

Doric Capital

The mouth of the ancient spring at Caesarea Philippi

Taking in the beautiful views

While hiking to the Banyas Falls, we stop at an old mill grinder - this one
turned by water.

By re-routing the water, one could turn the the mill
stone without the use of animals. 

Banyas Falls

Walking to the bus, one can make out the Nimrod Fortress on the far hill.

In the middle of nowhere ... where are we going? 

Ah, I see a few remains in the distance.

The site is Omrit - a fairly recent archaeology project

Looking over the remains - builders used lots of Basalt stones (the black ones)

Here at Omrit are the remains of three temples - each an expansion of the

Here one can see the original, very small temple. The walls on the outside
are ... can you guess? Herodian!? Yes, according to more recent archaeology
findings, this would have been the third of Herod's temples to Ceasar Augustice.
We've heard for so long that this third temple was at the mouth of the cave at
Caesarea Philippi, however Josephus says it was near not at the headwaters of
the Jordan. This fits much better. 

Close up of the expansion wall. 

Here we can see the third expansion - the molding around the bottom is
certainly by Herod the Great - it's exactly the same as the Herodium. This
means that this is the only surviving temple built by Herod the Great. 

Better shot of the molding and expanding "fill" to the right - presumably by
Herod's grandson, King Agrippa

Here we can contrast the Herod's molding and the third
addition molding - Herod's is far superior in quality. 

Archaeologists have uncovered many excellent frescoes.

Here I'm peaking through to get a glimpse of some of these "unpublished"
frescoes at Omrit

Some blue coloring ... 

Dr. Wright next to the original temple

Oooh! There's an inscription ... to bad I'm not any good with Greek

Another shot of the original temple at Omrit - just recently discovered

Looking out from Omrit

Standing in the remains of Omrit

Scenic view around Omrit - the main road used to pass this way as it headed
to Caesarea Philippi and on to Damascus

The Sea of Galilee is once again in site. 

The sun is getting ready to set ... 

And has now setting over the Arbel Pass - view from Ein Gev.

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