A Writer’s First Visit to the Holy Land: Nazareth Village and Mount Precipice
Our Route So Far
We began our journey traveling up the coast from Joppa (south Tel Aviv) to Caesarea Maritima. We then headed inland along the the Valley of Yizre’el (also called the plain of Megiddo as in Armageddon).
One of the difficulties in reading maps of the Holy Land is that every place seems to have several different names, each with different spellings as the name gets transliterated into different alphabets.
In the case of the Yizre’el Valley/Plain of Megiddo, both Yizre’el and Megiddo were (and I suppose are) important towns in the valley and it makes sense for inhabitants to name it after the nearest important town in the valley. You’ll see the plaque on Mount Precipice near Nazareth called the Yizrael Valley, yet its the same valley we saw from Mount Carmel.
Nazareth is a small city of about 77,000 surrounding the village area of the Nazareth of two thousand years ago. The original village would have been located close to the springs that made life in this arid place possible.
We visited Nazareth Village, a reconstructed village from the time of Jesus on an archaeological site that used to be a terraced farm two thousand years ago. In the picture above, one can see the wine press itself, a flat, slightly sloped area where the grapes were pressed barefoot and then a channel to a deeper hollow where the grape juice was collected.
The History of Nazareth Village: “Extensive archeological [sic] excavations show that this remarkably preserved site is home to an over 2000 year old wine press cut into the bedrock. The remains of a vineyard, watchtowers, terraces, spring fed irrigation system and stone quarries tell the story of a working farm area just outside of the original old Nazareth. The hillside was preserved and untouched on the grounds of the Nazareth Hospital, established in 1906 by the Edinburgh Medical Missionary Society (EMMS), now called the Nazareth Trust.“
As I reflected on this passage in Luke chapter 4, after having just finished studying the life of Elijah and the confrontation on Mount Carmel, it struck me for the first time that Jezebel was a Sidonian (1 Kings 16: 31).
Yet even in the culture of that time in which the family members and people of Jezebel should be held equally culpable for Jezebel’s deeds, our gracious God sends Elijah to look after a Sidonian widow and her son during a time of extreme drought.
My trip to Israel was much more than confronting and learning about history; it was also a time of personal learning and reflection. On Mount Precipice as we were thinking about the Luke 4:14-30, we were asked to consider the question:
“If someone were to follow you for a week and watch how you live, what would they say about who you believe Jesus to be?”
As a scientist, I worry a lot about bias, in particular confirmation bias, the observation that if a person believes a theory or hypothesis to be true, then they leap with glee on any datum that supports their point of view, but likely relinquish troublesome data points to the “To Be Explained” file with a sigh saying “I’ll have to give those data points more thought to see if I can see how they fit in.”
So “Whom should you ask?” I guess I would say ask someone else who does follow me around and then tell me what they see so that we’ll both know!
Likely there would be some indicators that I think Jesus is who He said He was, mixed in with many attitudes and behaviors that say the opposite (unfortunately).
- If you have ever been to the Holy Land, what thought or experience has stayed with you the longest?
- Did your visit to the Holy Land pique your interest in spiritual things or diminish your interest?
- If you haven’t gone to the Holy Land yet, and were given a chance to go, what would you hope to see/learn/experience?
I’d love to hear your answers as comments here or on Facebook.