A Travellerspoint blog

Day 9

Bet She’an, Jordan River, Mount Arbel

sunny 39 °C

I am loving the heat! It was 39 at the Sea of Galilee.

Yesterday (writing on Monday morning) we drove along the border of Israel and Jordan. It is easy to forget how big Australia is, until you travel outside of it.

We have visited Bet She’an which is at the Eastern end of the Jazreel Valley. This is an incredible decapolis city, the kind Jesus would have visited on his travels. This is also the place where King Saul’s body was hung on the city gate in Old Testament times.

A number of our pilgrims were baptised in the Jordan river and it was a special occasion to share.

We sang ‘All to Jesus, I surrender’. I struggle to sing this hymn most times and this occasion was no different. Every time I have to ask myself ‘am I really willing to sing this?’ When you sing something like this and mean it, you just don’t know what will come.

Our next stop for the day was Mount Arbel.

Mount Arbel is a mountain in The Lower Galilee near Tiberias, with high cliffs, views of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, trails to a cave-fortress, and ruins of an ancient synagogue.

The peak, at 181 metres above sea level (380 metres above the surrounding area), dominates the surroundings (much of the area is below sea level) and from the lookout atop the mountain, almost all of the Galilee into the Golan Heights including Safed, Tiberias and most of the Sea of Galilee, is visible.

Nearby are the ruins of an ancient Jewish settlement with a synagogue from the fourth century CE with pews and columns.

Dug into the mountain itself are a number of cave dwellings, expanded from natural caves. There are documented Jewish cliff dwellings dating back to the Second Temple period in the area. The extant fortification walls protecting some of these caves are from the 17th century and were built by Ali Bek, son of the Druze emir Fakhr ad-Din al-Ma'ani. Josephus writes about how Herod the Great, with the help of Roman soldiers, defeated some of the last rebels who supported the Hasmonean king Antigonus and had taken refuge in the cliffs of Mt Arbel.

The caves on the steep northern side were reused in the Ottoman period by the Druze Ma'ani dynasty to create the cave castle known as Qal'at Ibn Ma'an.

Back at the hotel, I watched the end of a movie that I had downloaded on Netflix. Not really sure why I watched it, but I did.

Then, it was off to the shops...and, yes, I did support the local economy. A pair of sandals, which are the Israeli version of Birkenstock’s. Super comfortable! And, only $150 aud.

This is our last day by the Sea of Galilee. We start our journey towards Jerusalem.

Posted by Cruicksie 21:42 Archived in Israel

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