Here is a map to show where we went yesterday. On our travels we saw places and ruins from Canaanite, Old Testament, New Testament, Byzantine, Crusader, in modern times. We also met Un peacekeepers patrolling the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria. We were only 40 miles south of Damascus.
This morning we visit an archaelogiical dig at Tel Hazor. This was a key location in the north for the Canaanite people, controlling a major trade route. It is mentioned in on an 18th 19th century inscriptions and a 14th century Egyptian text refers to a king in Hazor.
You can read about Joshua’s defeat of Hazor in Joshua 11, and then about Solomon’s fortification of Hazor in 1 Kings 9:15.
And then in 2 Kings 15:29 you can read how Tiglath Pilezer III king of Assyria came and captured Hazor along with other parts of Galilee.
At Tel Dan is one of the oldest gates in all of the Middle East. It dates from the 18th century BC, 4,000 years ago. These City gates in existence when Abraham came to rescue Lot. We talked about how City gates were a key location in the life of an ancient village, Broad open area known in Hebrew as Hebrew reov, place to be “welcomed” by the village elders. Cf Deuteronomy 16 and Ruth 4 and 2 Samuel 16 and Job 29:7ff.
At the spring at the foot of Mt. Hermon, in the then district of Gaulinitis, with a racial mix 50/50 Jews and Gentiles, Herod Philip built a city in honor of Caesar plus himself Philip=Caesar Philippi. It was the site of the pagan god Pan, the god of fertility. There was much Graeco-Roman imagery, with the river coming out of the mouth of the cave alluding to the river Styx, river to Hades, where one must “pay the man the boat man” to take you across to the nether-world.
After this teaching, Jesus sets his face for Jerusalem, and is resolutely Going to the cross. Like Samson, who ripped the gates off of the town of Gaza and carried them all the way to Hebron, Jesus will rip the gates off the hinges of Hades and free the people trapped, in the devil’s stronghold. As it says in the Nicene Creed, “he descended into hell” there to free those imprisoned. Death no longer has the last word.
This is in the Golan heights, what was known in OT times as Bashan. Amos refers to the wealthy heartless women as “cows of Bashan, and Psalm 22 refers to the Bulls of Bashan. Moses came all this way here in the north to defeat Og the king of Bashan (Numbers 21) and gave this land in the north east of the country to Manasseh even though it is east of the Jordan.
Shalom from Israel!