Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
At almost every international airport I've been to, and that has been quite a few, there are signs in the customs and immigration area indicating that photography is not allowed. I always assumed this to be a security issue to discourage bad guys from having too much intelligence about the layout of everything. Coming into Israel, of all places I expected big time security. People were snapping pictures all over the place in the lines for passport control and all and no one said anything. I was surprised. (I was to find out that security on the way out was more like I had expected.)
Bokertov means "good morning."
Lilatov is "good night."
Thank you is towdah.
Avodah is work.
Feb. 17, 1997, Netanya, Israel
We just visited the Netanya diamond center. They have lots of beautiful diamond jewelry and big prices.
I'm with pastor Dr. Calvin Kelley of Valleydale Baptist Church, Birmingham, Alabama, and a group - there are 15 of us all together. We're heading up to Caesarea by the Sea and later up to Hypha. We're supposed to be spending a couple of days in the north and then go down to Jerusalem.
Just stood on top of Mt. Carmel where Elijah defeated the 450 prophets of Baal and 450 prophets of Ashterah. There is a2 beautiful view overlooking the valley of Jezreel where Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 men. We could see across the Jezreel Valley to Mt. Tabor where the transfiguration took place. We made some pictures with a truckload of female Israeli soldiers.
In the three cities built by Solomon, Megiddo, Gezer, and Hazor, they found in the ruins the exact same gate - same style, same exact dimensions.
Har means mountain, and Har Meggido means, of course, Mt. of Meggido. That's where "Armageddon" comes from.
A tel is an ancient site, actually a hill with layers of different cultures built one on top of another.
We saw ruins at Caesarea on the coast, not to be confused with Caesarea Philipi, which is up almost into what is now Jordan. And of course at Meggido there are ruins, the earliest of which go back 6,000 years to the Cannanites.
We just went down to Ahab's water works. This is where he blocked up the entrance to the spring from the outside of the city and dug a tunnel down and across from the inside. A lot of slaves must have died making that thing. A huge undertaking without power equipment 2,900 years ago.
This goes back to the very beginning on Thursday, Feb. 13 in the afternoon. I was working on the garage and got a phone call from Darlene at the church in Alabama. That's when I learned that they were looking for somebody to go to Israel to shoot video. By 2:30 on Saturday afternoon I was on my way over here.
Feb. 17, 4:30pm
We're at the Church of the Annunciation, a Catholic church built over a cave where Catholic tradition says Mary lived and where the annunciation was made. We're here in Nazareth, which up until 100 years ago had about 1,000 people living in it. Today there are about 70,000. It is 40% Arab "Christian," meaning non-Islamic Arabs.
Walking up the hill I picked up a souvenir Coke can with Coca Cola in Hebrew.
Our guide is Yosi and the driver is Honi. Yosi was the guide for Mick and Rick Vignuelle's group that came through here about four months ago.
We visited a little synagogue which tradition has it is the place where Mary and Yosiph and Jesus worshiped. It could have been. There were probably many synagogues in this area the time. The present walls in the one we visited are Bysantine walls. The arching overstructure is crusader architecture.
We're on our way to visit the Baptist Church of Nazareth.
We met a woman named Sieda in the Baptist church while we were inside looking around. She is fasting and praying for revival in the church here. She is a converted Muslim of five years. She came to Christ by seeing a showing of the "Jesus of Nazareth" film bv Franco Zephereli. After seeing that she sought out Christians in Switzerland where she lived at the time.
We just came over the hill from Nazareth into Cana - about four or five miles. Only a few minutes by bus, but would be a long walk.
About a half hour drive from Nazareth we are coming into Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee where we are spending the night.
Last night we were at the Seasons Hotel in Netanya overlooking the Mediterranean. Tonight we're at the Paradise Tiberius Hotel. Last night we got a suite overlooking the Med. (There are certain advantages to rooming with a tour host.) Tonight we have a room overlooking the Sea of Galilee. These rooms all have little porches.
A genorah is a violin. A genneret is harp, and that's where Generet came from: the shape of the Lake of Galilee is the shape of a harp.
Feb. 18, 11:00am
This morning we took a little boat ride from Tiberius to Ginosar, which is a kibbutz. We passed by Migdal, which is where Mary Magdalene was from.
We're in the bus now heading north from Galilee to Cesarea Philipi, which is not in Lebanon, it's up near the border. Along the road I saw a 707 fuselage on stantions.
Cesarea Philipi is also known as Bonius for the river it's on; one of the three rivers that form the Jordan.
Feb. 18, 3:00pm
Saw the temple of Pan at Cesarea Phililpi. This is the site where Peter made his confession and said, "Thou art the Christ." We saw the tel Dan, the city of Dan. And we also saw an excavated city gate from Cananite times; the oldest known city gate in the world.
We come down to Capernaum. Saw the site that is believed to be Peter's house. There was a Byzantine church built there in the 4th century so it's where they believed it was at that time. So there's a good chance it's really where it was. Right nearby there is a synagogue where we know Jesus spoke. The dark stones of the foundation are the original stones from the time of Christ. The white stone was from the rebuilding in the 4th century.
Wed., Feb. 19
We left Tiberius this morning and made our first stop right where the Jordan River starts up again at the Sea of Galilee where there is a baptismal center. Elizabeth Smith of Hoover, Alabama, one of the ladies in the group was baptized by pastor Calvin Kelly. The water was about 60 degrees. Pretty chilly. The video looks really nice because of the way the sun was coming across the water through the trees on the other side. The light was glinting and sparkling off the water - looked really good.
One peculiar thing about this facility is that you walk up and it smells terrible. Smells like a zoo. Couldn't figure out what was causing it. The water was a bit stagnant there because the water control dam setup has the flow cut off. It's pretty still, so maybe that was the cause of the smell.
They have all kinds of little bottles for sale in the shop so you can bring home a gallon or some small portion of Jordan River water. They say that in the warm weather of the summer there are hundreds and thousands of people lined up to be baptized. The whole thing is obviously designed and built to accommodate large numbers of people. It's the Disney World of baptism.
This morning we had the only dunking going on. One other group (some Methodists) were doing a little sprinkling. That was about it.
This group I'm with consists of Pastor Calvin, me, two other men along with their wives, and the rest of the total of 15 are women.
We're headed down the highway along the Jordan River. I'm looking across the river right now at a flag on an outpost that is Jordan. That little piece of land was recently given back to Jordan. It had been part of Israel since '48.
One thing that strikes me about Israel is that it's very similar to Southern California - dry weather, the fact that we're here in the winter time in February and it's very green. But, in the summertime it gets up to 100 or 110 degrees. Everything gets brown. Very similar to Southern Cal in a lot of ways. Also, there are rolling hills and flat valleys. Just really reminds me of California.
It's kind of nice, they have the tourism thing very well established here. It makes it nice to be able to quickly see so many sites and have guides who are very knowledgeable. It's very efficient getting in and out of hotels and busses and all. But, the commercialization does take away from the impact of some of the sites, particularly the ones obscured by some church or building built over the top of it (which is most of them.)
We're making a little diversion here. We're going up to Belvoir. It's about a 2,000 ft. tall mountain. A beautiful view. It's a real high mountain looking over the Jordan valley and the Moab Mountains on the other side. There are ruins of a castle up there built by the crusaders.
There is a set of cards our guide is using that you can get from the national park service for $20. It gives you entrance passes to all kind of sites. It's a good value if you're going to see a lot of places.
The castle of Belvoir was built in the middle of the twelfth century. Probably was operational for only 30 to 50 years. The book says it was built in 1140 and destroyed in 1189. It was built on the ruins of an ancient Jewish village.
Looking across the Jordan to the Moab mountains where Ruben, Gad, and half of Manassah stayed.
Saw the mountain of Gilboa where Saul was killed.
Visited Bet-Shean, an ancient Cannanite city. They are excavating Roman and Bysantine ruins there.
There were 45 or so known Cannanite cities. The Cannanites always lived on hilltops for security. The Romans felt very secure. They would live in the lower lands as well. So, at Beth Shan, the tel, the hill, is where the Cannanite city is but the other ruins are all down below and covering a much larger area.
Bet-Shean was a crossroads; a very strategic spot. This was the land of Ephraim.
At Bet-Shean they have found 16 layers of civilization. The history spans about 4,000 years.
Feb. 19, 12:08pm
We're stopping to look at Mt. Gilboa where Saul had his last battle and died.
Bet-Shean is mentioned at the end of I Samuel as the place where Saul's body was hung up on the wall by the Philistines.
Jonathan Netanyahu, son of the current prime minister, was killed in the raid at Entebe, Uganda by a sniper.
We're going up along the Jordan into the West Bank. We're seeing the hills of Samaria. These are probably going to be given back to the Palestinians. Yosi is explaining how they are negotiating to keep Israeli possession of the valley all through here because of it's strategic nature being the eastern border of the country.
Feb. 19, 1:30
We're in Jericho, which is the oldest city in the world, dating back 6,000 years. Also the lowest city in the world at 1,200 ft. below sea level. Continuously inhabited, a very attractive place because water comes out of the mountains down here. There are lots of trees (compared to other areas). However, it's hot here. It's February and it's still hot. In the summmer it's like an oven we're told.
Jericho is very commercialized. It's been given back to Arafat. His picture is prominently displayed at the entrance to the tel Jericho, the ancient hill. Just outside the tel in the big parking lot you can pay to ride a camel. Extremely commercialized.
Kathryn Kenyon, an English lady, led an excavation here looking for the walls of Jericho. She found a tower, but never found any walls. It's the only city this ancient that has ever been found without walls. (You can see this excavation at the tel. The tower is down in a big hole in the ground. You can also see evidence that there had been a major fire in the city. The Kenyon excavation is very controversial.)
Had some falafel in a pita today that tasted pretty good. The other day we had some falafel that tasted fully awful. (Falafel is a very popular lunch dish in Israel. It's a deep fried thing similar to a meat substitute veggie patty. Only they make it quite spicy.)
Wed., Feb. 19, 6:50pm
Just checked into the Jerusalem Hyatt hotel. One of the advantages of rooming with the tour group leader is that we've been getting suites in some of these hotels. We have a nice little suite in this one.
Coming up into Jerusalem from the Jordan you climb from 1,200 ft. below sea level to about 2,000 ft. above sea level through the Judean Desert, which is a mountainous area. Climbing up the Mount of Olives and over into the Kidron Valley, around the temple mount. Then we went straight over to Bethlehem the shop of a friend of Yosi's with high prices on lots of stuff. I did buy a little marble box. They had a big collection of boxes from around the world. They had a lot of olive wood stuff, but it seemed very overpriced. Most people in the group seemed to have the same feeling. Then we came back here to Jerusalem proper to the Hyatt.
This place is really fancy. I have a feeling that the food is going to be better than what we had in Tiberias.
Feb. 20, 9:30am
Got up early this morning and took a walk with Calving and Leon and Sandra Alliston through part of the Old City before everything was opened up. That was interesting.
Now we're with the group. We just went to the western wall, the Wailing Wall. We videoed some orthodox Jews praying there and the Bar Mitzvah of a 13 year old boy going on. Took a moment to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for the coming of the Messiah with my hand on the wall. It was quite a moving experience. And just to be here where there is so much history; where Jesus himself walked.
We're standing now near the Dome of the Rock where supposedly Abraham almost offered Isaac as a sacrifice and God provided a lamb at the last minute.
We went inside the dome and saw the rock. Then we walked over to the Bethesda pool where Jesus healed on the Sabath.
Went through the Arab quarter along the Via Delarosa, which goes through the Arab bazaar. It's a very commercialized thing. We saw the church of the condemnation, the church of the flagellation, the church of Veronica, the church of the spot where Mary met Jesus, the spot where the cross was taken from him, and the the church of the holy sepulcher, which is where the Catholics believe Jesus was crucified and buried.
An interesting thing is that the Arab quarter is really filthy and dirty and old and cruddy looking. And in the Jewish quarter everything is very neat and beautiful. No trash anywhere. Very nice place.
Saw a little audiovisual presentation in a place called "Burnt House," where they found the ruins of a house when the rebuilding of the Jewish quarter took place after the '67 war. The Arabs had destroyed everything in the 19 years previous after 1948.
Sala Hadim was the fellow who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders and had it for about 100 years.
We at a little shopping stop in the Jewish quarter. There are lots of nice things available. Didn't buy any. We went by an Arab bakery in the Jewish quarter. Sandra and Leon bought some flat sesame crispy things and shared some with me. They were delicious.
Another popular item has been jewelry made of Roman glass - 2,000 years old. Also back up in Ceasarea by the Sea there was a little shop that had Phoenician glass that is even older.
They find these fragments of Roman glass in the ruins here and make jewelry out of it. It's pretty interesting.
We went out and ran into some guys with camels just outside the old city wall. Just about everybody took a little camel ride. I made video of most of them. I got on one myself and shot myself riding a camel named Mike.
We're on our way to the Shepherd's Field near Bethlehem. Going to bed at midnight last night and getting up at 5:00 this morning is catching up with me. I'm pretty sleepy.
Thursday, Feb. 20, 5:30pm, back at the hotel
We went to the traditional Upper Room and back over to Bethlehem to the Shepherd's Field, the traditional spot of the annunciation of the angels. There is a church there which is fairly new and a little cave that was obviously once used by shepherds. There are burn marks on the ceiling from campfires. I bought a little olive wood angel in a little shop across the street from there. It's supposed to be a cooperative of several families and some orphans.
On June 7, 1967 Yosi, our guide, was a sergeant in the Jerusalem brigade which was the first to get to the Wailing Wall. They went through the Dung Gate.
Feb. 21, 9:30am
We left Jerusalem in the rain to head down toward the Dead Sea. We've stopped at Khumran. It's raining hard so we're probably not going to get to see the caves of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We stopped at a Bedouin tent where the fellow has a little operation going on for the tourists. We had some bitter coffee. Got my picture made with a rub-a-aw (sp?) which is a one-string violin (sorta). I got a picture made holding it like a guitar.
There was also a little gift stop there called the "Good Samaritan Inn." It's on the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho which is north, but you're heading down through the hills and this is the area where the Good Samaritan incident happened.
Feb. 21, 10:25am, the gift shop at Khumran
It's still puring down rain, so we're passing some time in here. Just met the general manager of the shop here. Turns out he owns the Masada Bagel Company in Atlanta. A bakery that sells to Birmingham and to Florida he says.
The gift shop here is owned by the local kibbutz. I bought Stacey a little stuffed camel.
On the way south we saw the caves at Khumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. We just stopped the bus along the road. The caves were probably a mile or more away. I walked through some mud for a ways to get a shot without power lines in the foreground.
We're driving down the road south along the western shore of the Dead Sea. There are hundreds of caves in the cliffs all along here. In the 60's Israeli archeologists checked hundreds of these caves and found artifacts: jewelry, house deeds, people with keys to their homes, and skeletons of people who died. These date back to the Roman's in the era that they took Masada. Some of the people escaped with some of their valuable belongings and stayed in these caves where many of them died. All these artifacts are in the museum now. Their letters tell a lot about their lives.
We're just passing En-gedi, where David hid from Saul as recorded in I Samuel 23 & 24.
The Sea of Galilee seems smaller than I had anticipated, but the Dead Sea seems much bigger than I expected. It's huge.
The kibutz at Khumran is Kibutz Ahava, the people that make the Ahava cosmetics and soap line out of Dead Sea minerals and such.
Feb. 21, 1:45pm
Just got done shooting a spot with Calvin at the lower basin of the Dead Sea. Had an experience similar to shooting the Doe River Gorge camp video years ago in that the weather was terrible today. We got out there and the rain stopped, so we thought we'd be able to shoot it. Then the wind was blowing and giving us all kinds of wind noise. We stopped to pray and in the middle of the prayer the wind stopped. So we started up again. There was a road right behind us and we had occasional car noise, but in between all that we got some good takes. The sun came in and out. Actually the lighting was perfect. We found an excellent spot there at the lower basin with salt formations jutting out into the water. It was quite a miraculous experience.
Leon and Sandra Alliston were helping us out. They have been helping us shoot these spots. They were really blown away by the miraculous nature of what happened.
Just got down from the cable car ride to the top of Masada.
Feb. 21, 4:00pm
I'm at En-gedi. This is the oasis where the spring is. You can see the waterfall coming out of the mountain flowing down into the canyon. This is where David hid from Saul. It's a beautiful spot. There's a little park here and a small museum.
At Masada we stood in the synagogue, the first synagogue since it was built before the destruction of the temple. In that synagogue is where Eliazar convinced the people they should die as free Jews and not be taken to be tortured and made slaves. So each man killed his own wife and children. Then they drew lots and ten men killed all the rest of the men. Then they drew lots again and one of the 10 killed the other 9, then the last one killed himself. Two women and five children hid and were alive when the Romans took over. A total of 960 died. They left food and water to show that they were not starved out, but that they chose to die as free Jews.
They didn't stop the Romans from building the siege ramp, a two year operation, because the Romans were using Jewish slaves to do the work. So, the Jews on Masada did not want to kill them.
We've been climbing up the mountains from the Dead Sea. It's so strange - it's seems you've been climbing a long time and are pretty high and then there's a marker that says you're at sea level. As I mentioned earlier, the Dead Sea is about 1,200 ft. below sea level and Jerusalem is about 2,400 ft. above sea level.
After shooting along the south basin, I noticed that all over the camera and other equipment there was this kind of film of salt. Not gritty that you could feel, but sticky kind of like when you've been at the beach all day just from the breeze that was blowing. Before we left I stuck my finger in the water. It felt kind of almost oily. I think that the water in the south basin is probably even more concentrated than the north basin. But, anyway, I tasted it and it was extremely salty; much more so than sea water, but also it had a taste like the time I tried to swallow a Dramamine pill without water - very bitter - horrible!
We're on our way to stop at Anatot. We just passed a wreck where a Volkswagen smashed into the side of a Mercedes. In the mist and rain the road is a bit slippery here. Anatot is where Yosi lives and was the birthplace of Jeremiah. It's in the upper part of Wadi Qelt, which in the part far below is where St. George's Monastery is. (We stopped along the road above the monastery and made pictures wearing Arab headgear that guys were selling there. The monastery is built into the walls of the canyon far below. It's a structure that is attractive and very exotic because of it's surroundings.) Up through this wadi is believe to be the path of Jesus from Galilee up into Jerusalem.
We just had a nice tea and goodies at the home of Yosi and his wife Vita. They have a little boy about a year and a half old named Jonathan. Joss's mother was there as well. We had a really delightful time at this very attractive home in a settlement on the West Bank. He showed us his antique pottery collection. He has some very beautiful things.
(Yosi told us he had invited many groups to come to his home but we were one of the few or it may have been that he said we were the first to accept the invitation. I think he and his wife had a bit of a political statement to make by having us there: that the west bank settlements are just neighborhoods and not hostile encampments. Also a point they made was that this was unused land and the community in no way displaced anyone.)
One thing I have not mentioned yet is that I think I'm the youngest one here - the kid of this group. Most of these folks are older, a number are, shall we say, retirement age. Being a primarily a female entourage this is about the shoppingest bunch you'd ever want to run into. They also seem to have a fair amount of discretionary funds with which to spend on stuff.
Anyway, I hadn't mentioned Estelle Guion. She's from Pascagula, but spent most of her life in Yazoo City, Mississippi. She's 82 years old but she just about runs us all ragged. She climbs and walks and it's hard to believe. We just didn't think she'd do all this but she does just about everything everybody else does and just enjoys it all - never a complaint out of her.
Feb. 22, Saturday, "Shabot"
It's the Saboth. There are special elevators in the hotel that stop at every floor so you don't have to work by pressing a button. There is a lighting system in the room that if you activate it Friday evening you don't have to touch a switch; on Saturday. It automatically turns the lights on and off for you.
This morning we got a look at the old city from the Mount of Olives. We are heading to Gethsemane now. It's very windy and cold. Probably in the mid-40s and overcast. A few of the places they were going to take us walking they have decided not to do because of the cold. It wouldn't bother me, but some of these folks are having a hard time with the temperature. (They were Alabama people, after all.) This is the first day I broke out my down jacket. I'm glad I have it now.
This is to be our last full day in Jerusalem. Actually our last full day in Israel. Tomorrow afternoon we go to London.
Saturday, Feb. 22
This morning we've done Gethsemene, the Mount of Olives, we've done the Garden Tomb, Gordon's Calvary - possible site of Golgatha - with the skull hill. And now we're at Manger Square. We just saw the church of the nativity which marks the spot of the birth of Jesus, supposedly.
It's raining. We also shot some spots at the Garden Tomb, a fabulous place to visit. They were in the process of closing up, but I bought my Israel book at the gift shop there. That whole compound is run by the British.
Before going into the Church of the Nativity we had lunch at the Christmas Tree restaurant which is right where all the busses park, which, by the way, is a fascinating procedure to witness how they get all the busses crammed into that parking area. They shoe-horn them in with a little traffic director guy who signals the driver which little niche he's supposed to back his bus into.
Anyway, I had a meat in a pita sandwich and a bottle of local grape drink. Best lunch I've had here. Very good. Christmas Tree restaurant. I highly recommend it. I made a few pictures of them making falafel.
Barkochva was the leader of the second Jewish rebellion in the second century. The first rebellion was at the destruction of the Temple in 67AD. The Dead Sea Scrolls have been dated by style to be as old as 200BC, but carbon dating puts them at 33AD. Generally it's been accepted that about 100AD is the origin. Even this puts them 1,000 years older than the oldest previous known scrolls. The Essenes rejected the authority of the priests and thought that the temple worship and the priests were corrupt and so that's why they went out to Khumran to live by the Dead Sea.
A traditional story, apparently, was that the shepherd boy and his father found the scrolls and took them to a shoe shop in Jerusalem to have the leather made into sandals. Someone who recognized their value was in the shop to get his shoes fixed and bought them for a pittance.
There were yellow scorpions in the desert around the Dead Sea. If you get stung by one you will die in an hour. There are also 8 species of poisonous snakes in the desert. So, working in the caves at Khumran was very dangerous. Also, all the approaches were eroded away so the only way in was by ropes.
In '62, '63, and '64 are when the expeditions took place to check 95% percent of the thousands of caves to see if there were any more scrolls. After the original find the Bedouins were looking for scrolls to sell, so there was quite a competition between them and the Jewish archeologists to find any other articles in the caves.
There were hundreds of people involved with those soldiers including soldiers to guard the sites. In those caves were found letters from Barkochva about supplies, discipline, the like to his lieutenants who were at En-Gedi. Also there was a woman named Babatha. She had 35 legal documents in a pouch which "shed light on subjects such as jurisprudence, the economy, religious observance, geography, agriculture, and linguistics."
There were also property deeds for spots in En-Gedi. There is a deed for the sale of a date palm grove in Maoza to Babotha's father. These were obviously very wealthy people. There is a deed for the sale of a house written in legalese, which apparently these folks have been good at for quite a long time.
There is a marriage contract that which is as long as your arm.
Feb. 22, 3:00pm
I'm standing in the Museum of Israel looking at a Psalm scroll from Khumran cave #11, "one of the best preserved of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It contains 41 of the Psalms, mostly complete, some fragments, as well as 7 Psalms not included in the Bible. Among the 7 non-canonical psalms, 4 are known from early translations in Greek or Syriac. Their inclusion here means that we are now in the possession of the original version. The other three were hitherto entirely unknown. The linguistic features of all the non-canonical psalms suggests that they were composed at a later date than the canonical Psalter."
Most of the scrolls on display are commentaries, the Book of Disciplines and Order, and also some microscopic phylacteries and a Book of the Last Battle with instructions on how the formations are to be made and what weapons are to be used and what prayers are to be said. The scrolls are sandwiched between some special kind of glass. There is a special, very dim, yellowish light that apparently minimizes deterioration that is operated by a push button which turns it on for approximately a minute and then it goes off. There are humidigraphs in the cases.
In the center of the room is a big circular display that used to hold the scroll which contains the entire book of Isaiah - the only scroll that contains an entire book. It's built into an elevator that lowers down into the ground into a bomb-proof canister, but the original has been removed and reproduction is now on display. The original was discovered in cave #11 in 1947.
Isaiah was the only book found in it's entirety. At the museum it's dated circa 100 BC. It's about 10" wide and about 25' long with leather sheets sewn into a single strip.
The Manual of Disciplines contains regulations of the Jewish community. It looks like a small part of an Isaiah manuscript was still displayed in a side case, but the sign says it has been removed for restoration.
"Some 700 manuscripts were found in the Dead Sea region of which 200 are Biblical. 734 millimeters is the size of the Isaiah scroll. It has 54 columns containing the 66 chapters without a marked division between what modern scholarship regards as a first and second Isaiah. Chapters 36, 22, 40, and 28 were shown for a while.
It's awesome to stand here among fragments of what is truly the most powerful apologetic argument for the accuracy of the Old Testament Scripture.
Downstairs from the scrolls there is a display of ancient artifacts from the caves. There is a large glass bowl, very beautiful with fine detail, "one of the finest pieces of glass known from the ancient world" preserved in perfect condition. The bowl was found with a plate in a bundle of palm fiber packing material which is also on display, remarkably preserved.
There are Roman vessels, that were probably libation vessels taken as booty from the Romans during the revolt. The handles have various designs, faces and such, which were deliberately defaced according to Jewish law. Also, there are some very unusual house keys, which are devices that would reach in through cracks and operate the door bolts. Some of them also served as a handle for the door.
I'm going up the down staircase. I've gotta go out the entrance.
It costs about $8 to get into this place. Yosi got Calvin and I in for free. That was kind nice. Also, no photography is allowed inside, but Yosi noted that in the scroll room the guard was sleeping, so he told me to go ahead and make a few pictures, which I did. On the way out he told me to thank this fellow by the door because he was the one who was sleeping. I did, but he doesn't know why he got a thankyou.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 6:40am
I'm on my way to breakfast. On Friday night, Calvin and I tried to use the Jacuzzi but it was closed for Shabot. So, Saturday night when they said it would be open we went down there and it was open but the cost was $17.50 to get in, so we still didn't do it. Another funny thing about this hotel is that there is no information about any of the services or where anything is. Usually in a room you find that kind of stuff. They have an information channel on the television, but it didn't have much to say either. Kinda strange for such a tourism-savvy country.
Another group hosted by a couple of Calvin's preacher friends came in last night. I got to meet them. One of them is interested in doing some video. There's another fellow from West Palm Beach who's needing a video made for his church. So, he was interested in talking to me as well.
Sunday, Feb. 23, 9:00am
I'm on the bus sitting outside the Jerusalem Hyatt. It's amazing that I'm the first one ready to go. We're going to go shoot one more spot with Calvin at the Wailing Wall while the rest of the group goes to see the Jerusalem model - the city in miniature. We're going to miss that and then we're going to catch up with them and see the Holocaust Museum and then go straight to the airport for a 6:00 o'clock flight.
One thing I've noticed: I expected security to be a lot tighter here in Israel. They check the luggage before you get onto a plane and every time they put luggage on the bus everyone has to identify their bag in the pile before they will put it on. We saw them stopping people at checkpoints between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, but if you're with a guide on a tour bus or if your in a group, they see the guide and pretty much wave you through. Security seems minimal, but that may just be because I'm seeing it from the perspective of a group.
Those guys last night gave Calvin a list of stuff that we did not see that would be good to see next time: Mary's well, which is at the Eastern Orthodox church at Nazareth. It was the only fresh water source in the entire area, so no doubt Mary and Yosiph and Jesus spent time there. The Wadi Qelt where the St. George's monastery is also called the "valley of the shadow of death." It could well be where David wrote that Psalm as he fled from Saul and fled from Absolam.
We're leaving Jerusalem. Going through the streets on Saturday night after Shabot ends is supposed to be a great time. You can go there and watch all the festivities and eat ice cream.
In Tiberius there is a slide show called The Galilee Experience, a-la the New York Experience and The Atlanta Experience. It's supposed to be pretty good and costs and extra $6. The Temple Museum in Jerusalem where they are making the implements for the new temple. Bethany, and Emmaus. We're supposed to surprise everybody and stop at Emmaus on the way to the airport. And of course we're going to miss the model city. That would be good to see next time. Gadara on the far side of Galilee where the pigs went over the ciff - you can go see those cliffs. Korazim is the city that Jesus cursed.
This morning I beat Calving into the shower for a change and that gave me time to go down to the little gift shop in the hotel. Generally they don't have very good prices and indeed the shops inside the hotel are pricey, this one was accessible from the outside and the prices were the same or lower than other places we've been. I bought a few books to use a few of the photos on the video. One has a graphic of the old temple superimposed over a modern photo of the city which is a very interesting perspective I hadn't seen before. This book is on the art and history of Jerusalem. I also got a book that is an introduction to the archeology of ancient scrolls. Another book has some beautiful panoramas of landscapes, the desert and so forth, and quite a few black and white candid photos of everyday life. Yesterday I bought the Israel book at the Garden Tomb gift shop and Sandy Gafnea saw that and really liked it and asked me to pick one up if I saw another one. They had a copy in the hotel store so I picked that up too. Also got some souvenir coins and old shekel notes for the kids, a Jerusalem letter opener, kind of looks like a dagger, for Nathan. It has the spies carrying the giant bunch of grapes on it. And I got a tiny olive wood nativity scene.
We just finished the last spot here in Jerusalem at the Wailing Wall. That was the fifth one we did here. Had to wait in a tunnel passageway for the rain to stop and deal with wind noise in the mic, but I think we got it finally. Now we're in the bus going to the Holocaust museum. They are talking about politicians and Yosi just mentioned that politicians would have to wash their hands every day. Netanyahu is in a scandal involving the use of public funds. What else is new?
The Holocaust museum was very moving to me. I found myself wondering through mumbling "no, no, oh, no!" Some of the displays made tears come to my eyes. It was just so horrible. I kept asking myself how anyone could do these things to another human being. It is a powerful lesson about how low and vile human behavior can become when based on evil, twisted thinking. I videotaped lots of photographs and displays thinking I would like to put together a little video sequence of this. (Which I did and included in the tour documentary video everyone got - eventually!)
I don't think I've mentioned the reason I'm on this trip. I'm making a documentary of the tour, but that's not the reason I'm here. Dr. Calvin Kelley, the pastor of Valleydale Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama is the host and he wanted to shoot some 30 second spots to invite people to come to the church. So, that's what we're here doing. The fellow who had been scheduled was some amateur video guy from their church, a volunteer. The guys son was recently diagnosed with cancer and something came up in relation to that and he was unable to come at the last minute.
Just finished lunch at Pizza Hut. Really nice. Stopped at a little shop on the way out of the mall for some baklava.
Just learned something: If you hold the door for a female Israeli soldier, she will say, "todah," thank you.
It was about $30 for a large pizza at the Pizza Hut here. Most of the lunches are $5, some are $10 depending on where you go. But the best one I had was the cheapest, about $3 at the Christmas Tree place.
Here's the information about our guide:
Phone (local): 5867561
Phone (w/country and city codes):97225867561
We just made a stop at Emmaus on the way out of town. We also saw an adjacent park. Very beautiful. About 500 acres provided by Canadian Jews. Run by JNF. It's open for free and in season they let you pick the fruit on the fruit trees.
The Jerusalem Hyatt is on Mount Scopus. It's at 32 Lehi Street.
5:01, Ben Gurion Airport
Our plane is supposed to leave in about 20 minutes. We've been hassling for about an hour with getting value added tax refunds which is supposed to be 17%. We had a couple of pretty large purchases among our group (at the diamond center in Netanya). They went to the bank to get the value added tax refund and couldn't get it. Apparently there has been some change in rules that if it's over a thousand dollar purchase they send it to you in the mail.
I'm drinking a Coke here, a real genuine Coca Cola. I have to note that Coca Cola in Israel is the least like the real Coca Cola of any I've had all over the world.
One of the purchases was for a multi-carrot diamond ring which cost even more multiple thousands of dollars. An awful lot of money. I happened to see the receipt.
Monday, Feb. 24, 8:50AM
We're in London, staying at the Forte Crest Hotel, which is right at Gatwick Airport. A pretty nice place. About 260 pounds a night normally. Calvin said spending an extra night in London including the tour bus and day of sightseeing cost about $100 per head extra for the group. Pretty reasonable I thought. That included the room and a fabulous full English breakfast. I really enjoyed that. We got our five spots done in Israel. Got three to do here today. It's blustery, cloudy and spitting rain and supposed to be extremely windy today, so I'm dreading the mic wind noise problems. I'll have to figure out something.
I checked for a package at the desk last night. The Steadicam didn't make it. Looks like Esther didn't send it. (My Steadicam JR was in California for a repair when I got the call to make the trip. When I called to have them Fed Ex it back, they had already shipped it ground. I tried to buy another one but no one could get one to me overnight, not even direct from Cinema Products, the manufacturer. There just weren't any available that day.)
The Isuzu Amigo and Rodeo are imported here by the Vauxhall company.
Another note about Emmaus: As is the case with most of the sites in Jerusalem there is some question as to whether the site is the real Emmaus. There is another site that is thought to possibly be more accurate.
Well, I heard some more about the value added tax controversy. Apparently what really happened was that the diamond factory, the Netanya Diamond Center (NDC) has an arrangement with the airport authority or whatever so that they can fill out paperwork and not have to collect the value added tax thus avoiding having to get it back later on. I seem to remember them saying that when we first walked in, but the ladies who bought diamonds heard differently from the sales ladies who continually told them "don't worry, you'll get 17.5% back at the airport. So prices were negotiated believing that 17% would be returned and that was what was communicated from the sales people. The hostess at the beginning, I believe, told the proper information. Anyway, therein lies the controversy. So, they will not be getting any refund back, but complaints will be filed. This was a matter of over a couple of thousand dollars in one case.
I just saw an interesting billboard with a picture of a rugby match. It said, "There are still hard and fast rules for rugby: be hard and be fast."
We're driving through the countryside. We're about an hour drive from Gatwick into London and I'm noticing that the duplex and triplex home is extremely common in this country. They've kind of raised to an art form making differentiation between one half of the house and the other. To maintain some individualism, window styles, paint color, trim, and it seems like anything else they can think of to make their half of the house look different from the other half they do it.
On one house, split right down the middle of the gable, on half was brick and the other half stucco.
We've picked up our guide and we're now riding through the Royal Borough of Kensington, a very nice area. Would be a fun place to walk around. It's working out that Calvin and I are going to be sticking with the bus tour here for a couple of hours before we do any shooting. The weather is looking a lot better than we expected. The old victorian Michelin Building is really beautiful. It's ironic that it is a tire store.
Also note that the names of the district are also the names of the two subway stations, so that would make it easy to find your way to this place. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is Royal because Kensington Palace is here. It's one of two royal boroughs among the 32 total which are separate from the city of London proper.
We're going through a square on the edge of Chelsea and it looks like a nice place to hang out too.
Going through Belgravia where Andrew Lloyd Weber just sold his home for over 6 million pounds. Now we're going by Victoria Station.
We bailed out of the tour bus near Parliament at Big Ben. Just shot the Big Ben spot, which went excellently well. We tried a few takes at one location and found a better one buy one of the gates into the parking area of House of Commons (I think that's what it was.) The weather has been breaking for us at all the appropriate moments. We just walked into the Red Lion pub to try to get a hot chocolate or a cup of tea. Oh! They've got cappuccino! Yea!
Calvin kind of wanted to see some of the tour and I don't blame him for that. He'd never been to London before. But, our time was very limited, the weather was looking good but was forecast to turn bad, and being very nervous about that set of circumstances and wanting to get the job done that I came to do (and having done the bus tour a year or so earlier on my Templeton Prize trip!), I kept telling him we really should get the shooting done first and play after if there was time. When he saw Big Ben and Parliament sitting there in nice weather, he suddenly make up his mind that we should indeed do that. He told the bus driver to stop and announced that the video crew was getting off to shoot. I had no warning at all. Fortunately we were shooting with my little digital camera rig. I was able to jump up and go almost instantly. If we'd been shooting with a big Betacam, I wouldn't have been able to keep up with them. As it was, there was no problem. Not having done anything like this before, they had no idea how amazing it was to have that kind of ability to move so fast. I really like that little camera!
We got all three of the spots done. The first was Big Ben. We did one by the end of the Parliament building, the end of the House of Lords. The spot started out talking about "when you were a kid..." and there was a class of school boys on a field trip eating their lunches by a statue. We used them in the background in the beginning - serendipitous and wonderful. Then we just did the last one which was in front of Buckingham Palace. If we'd hung with the bus tour for a few hours, I don't think we would have finished everything.
We just finished a nice dinner at the Albert. A pub not far from Victoria Station, about 3 or 4 blocks down the road on Victoria Street. It was a nice meal for 13.95 pounds including gratuity and tax.
Today it's $1.71US to the pound.
The Israel exchange rate was about 3 shekels to the US dollar.
I stopped at the Green Coat Boy earlier for a Coke with Leon and Sandra Alliston.
In the Albert there is a big bell that they said was quite an honor to have. A number of restaurants and pubs in the area have these bells. When the House of Commons breaks, the guys will hang out in these pubs, then the bell would ring and they have 10 minutes to get back to vote or whatever.
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 8:12am
I'm checking out of the hotel, the Forte Crest at Gatwick Airport. After a good night's sleep I'm ready to go home.
Last night I stopped in a book store at the airport and purchased Michael Crichton's latest called "Airframe," a book I've been wanting to read for quite a while. I was waiting for it to come out in paperback, but an 8-hour stretch in which to read is pretty rare for me at this point in my life, and I've already read all the magazines on British Airways for this month on the way over, so I decided to go ahead and buy the book. And I'm looking forward, savoring the thought of a nice, long, uninterrupted time to be able to read for pleasure. I haven't been able to do that in many months.
I mentioned yesterday that it was pretty amazing that we were able to get the footage that we got because the forecast was for lousy weather and gale force winds. They were forecasting 70mph gusts. But, as I mentioned yesterday, we were successful in getting three spots done. Saw a headline this morning that winds got up to 80mph yesterday and six people were killed in Great Britain because of the storm. But where we were, it wasn't bad at all. Just a little chilly.
Waiting for the plane I'm in the W.H.Something bookstore at the airport. They sell a series of books by a fellow named Peter Biddlecombe: one called "I Came, I Saw, I Lost My Luggage," one called "Around the World on Expenses," and one called "Travels With My Briefcase." Here's another one called "French Lessons in Africa." They look like some interesting travel books published by Abacus Travel. Abacus a division of Little, Brown, and Co., UK, Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, London, WC2E7EN.
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 8:30pm eastern time, 5 hours behind London, 7 hours behind Israel.
Had to do a little bit of voice over with Calvin that we forgot to do back in London or Israel. Well, we tried it in Israel, but couldn't find a quiet enough place near the hotel as it was raining. It needed to be done outside to match the sound at the Garden Tomb. I had to leave the security area at Atlanta to go outside to do it. Thought I had just enough time to catch my plane, but my bag with the batteries in it didn't pass security after going through all those times previous. Things are real tight in Atlanta after the bombing. I had to go back and check it and then the computers went down at baggage check in. There were more delays going through security the second time. Anyway, I missed the plane. Tried to get on the next plane stand-by and it was full. I finally got on the third plane. It was supposed to leave at 5:25 and it's now 8:40pm. (My nice early home arrangement turned into another long night coming through Atlanta, which seems to happen more often than not.)
Well, another country. And what a privilege to get to see Israel. Always thought that would be interesting and it really was. The commercialism is disappointing and the fact that most places of interest is greatly obscured by the churches built over the top of them, but it's enlightening to get the feel for the lay of the land and the sense of how far towns are from each other and the topography, etc. Certainly a worthwhile trip.
Copyright ©1998 by Dan Philgreen - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED