My Trip to The Holy Land

JORDAN RIVER
JORDAN RIVER
PASTOR SKIP MOEN PhD Phil.
PASTOR SKIP MOEN PhD Phil.
RABBI BOB PREPARES OUR LESSON ON MOUNT CARMEL
RABBI BOB PREPARES OUR LESSON ON MOUNT CARMEL

IMAGES OF ISRAEL

I was recently blessed beyond belief to experience an amazing adventure in Israel. I was invited by my good friend Skip (the rock) Moen, who has been a major influence on my life. Dr. Moen publishes the outstanding daily devotional Today's Word. There were 18 souls in our group. Our leader on the trip was Messianic Rabbi Bob (famous counsel) Gorelik(accompanied by his wife, Lindy).

I owe a special thanks to the woman who helped me get added to the group at the last minute, Lisa (God's oath) Michalski. Lisa is a very serious person who is the event planner for an organization that has changed my life, the New Canaan Society. She brought along her best friend Whitney (white island) Miller, a prayer warrior and like Lisa a refined Connecticut lady. The videographer for our trip was Roderick (famous ruler) Logan, a man from Phoenix who loves God. A DVD of the trip will become available in the future. Another member of our troop was Matthew (gift of God) Woodward, a man who abandoned a life of comfort in Phoenix to live in St. Bernard Parish in New Orleans—with his wife and two children—to help the people there rebuild their lives after Hurricane Katrina. We were very fortunate to have as our tour guide the inimitable Ariel Inbar. And we were blessed with a great driver named Moshe.

OUR TOUR GROUP
OUR TOUR GROUP
VIEW OF NETANYA FROM OUR HOTEL BALCONY
VIEW OF NETANYA FROM OUR HOTEL BALCONY

PHOTOS OF ISRAEL

After a ten-hour flight from JFK to Tel Aviv, we drove north to spend our first night in Netanya, a city of nearly 200,000 that was settled in 1929 on the Mediterranean Sea. It was there I first met my roommates, David (beloved) Lawrence and John (God is gracious) Schnabl. David, a teacher and cross country coach from Indianapolis, was the secondary photographer for our trip and a very quiet man. He spent quite a bit of time each evening on Skype with his wife. John, a compassionate Christian church counselor from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, became very homesick and missed his wife immensely the last few days of our trip.

There was a fascinating episode on the flight. As the sun rose, dozens of Orthodox Jews stood in the aisles to pray wearing prayer shawls, or Tallits. I was offered one by a kindly gentleman but declined, at which point he said, "You are Jewish?" I replied, "I'm with Jesus," with one eye closed.

VALLEY OF ARMEGEDDON
VALLEY OF ARMEGEDDON
CAESAREA MARITIMA ROMAN AMPHITHEATER
CAESAREA MARITIMA ROMAN AMPHITHEATER
ROMAN AQUEDUCT CAESAREA MARITIMA
ROMAN AQUEDUCT CAESAREA MARITIMA
STATUE OF ELIJAH ATOP MOUNT CARMEL
STATUE OF ELIJAH ATOP MOUNT CARMEL
GROTTO OF ELIJAH ON MOUNT CARMEL
GROTTO OF ELIJAH ON MOUNT CARMEL
VIA MARIS IN PURPLE
VIA MARIS IN PURPLE
CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION IN NAZARETH
CHURCH OF THE ANNUNCIATION IN NAZARETH

MOUNT CARMEL

The first morning in Israel we visited Caesarea Maritima, the magnificent ruins of a city and harbor built by Herod the Great in 19 B.C. (Before Christ).   Herod built the city to facilitate trade and it was the largest seaport on the eastern Mediterranean during the time of Yeshua (Jesus) with 125,000 inhabitants.  It was here that Herod Agrippa was eaten by worms after blaspheming God.  The Apostle Peter established the first Christian church in Caesarea Maritima and it was there that the Apostle Paul was imprisoned for two years under the Roman governors Felix and Festus before going to Rome.  Origen and Eusebius lived in this city.  It boasted a tremendous library and therefore Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, and St Jerome came to study there.  Muslims massacred the populace and destroyed the great library in 638.  Caesarea Maritima was taken by the Crusaders in 1101, conquered by Saladin in 1187, retaken by the Crusaders in 1191, before they lost it to the Egyptian Mamluks in 1265, who razed the city.  Since the 1950s, archaeologists have been uncovering what we were privileged to see. 

Our next stop was Mount Carmel (God's Vineyard), where the prophet Elijah (My God is YHWH) held the contest with 450 prophets of Baal around 900 B.C. and fire rained from the sky.  Elijah never died, being taken up to heaven in a Chariot of Fire.  Archaeologists discovered the altar of Elijah in 1958.  We had a commanding view of the Jezreel Valley from atop the mountain ridge.  From here we traveled to Daliat El-Carmel, a Druze city of 15,000; for a traditional lunch of Falafel, fried balls of spiced chickpeas in a pita bread pocket.  

We proceeded to Tel Megiddo.  A "Tel" is a mound where one city has been built on top of another.  Megiddo is an incredible example of this as 21 layers of cities from 7000 years of settlements have been uncovered.  Megiddo was the royal city of the Canaanites, whose king was slain by Joshua; and sat on a strategic location, guarding the ancient trade route known as the Via Maris (Way of the Sea).  Many major battles in history have been fought there and the valley it overlooks, Armageddon.  We stood in King Solomon's stables, excavated around 1930. 

We drove through the Valley of Armageddon to Nazareth, where Yeshua spent most of his life, now a city of nearly 200,000; of which 31% are Christians.  We visited the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation—the largest church in the Middle East.  It was built on the site of the Shrine of the Home of Mary, Mother of Jesus.  The original Shrine was built about 350; destroyed by the Muslims in 650; rebuilt around 1200; destroyed again by the Mamluks in 1260; and rebuilt in the 18th Century.  The current Franciscan Church dates from 1969.  We drove out to Mount Precipice, where the people of Nazareth tried unsuccessfully to push Jesus off a cliff; and where we had a view of the Valley of Armageddon from its opposite side. 

At sunset, we drove through the village of Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle, turning water into wine, on our way to Tiberias, where we would lodge for three nights.  Tiberias is on the Sea of Galilee, or Lake Kinneret, and considered one of Judaism's four holy cities.   It reminded me of Mexico. 

DANCING ON THE SEA OF GALILEE
DANCING ON THE SEA OF GALILEE
SAILING VESSEL FROM JESUS TIME ON DISPLAY
SAILING VESSEL FROM JESUS TIME ON DISPLAY
SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM WHERE YESHUA PREACHED
SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM WHERE YESHUA PREACHED
MAP OF ANCIENT GALILEE
MAP OF ANCIENT GALILEE
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT WAS TAUGHT HERE
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT WAS TAUGHT HERE
HERE YESHUA FED THE 5000
HERE YESHUA FED THE 5000

SEA OF GALILEE

The next day we ventured out to spend the day where Yeshua spent most of his public ministry. We sailed on the Sea of Galilee in a replica of the wooden fishing boats that were in use in His time. The Sea of Galilee was not how I pictured it. I did not know it was surrounded by steep mountains. Here Yeshua walked on the water and calmed the stormy seas.

We went on to Capernaum, where Jesus taught in the synagogue; recruited his disciples; and a city He said would fade away and never be rebuilt—and it wasn't. The ruins have been excavated since 1838. We visited what is left of one of the oldest synagogues discovered in the world—the very one where Jesus preached. We walked on pavement where Yeshua walked. We visited the house of St Peter. In the 5th Century an octagonal church was built over this site by the Byzantines. In 1986, an ancient fishing vessel was discovered, which some believe is the boat Yeshua and His disciples sailed on. We got to see it in a museum dedicated to it in Capernaum.

We next went to the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. This site has been revered for at least 1600 years by Christians. We learned from our guide that Jesus did not preach on top of the mount—down at his audience—but from the bottom of the mount where his voice would have been naturally carried and amplified by wind from the Sea of Galilee, to where all those assembled could hear Him.

Our final stop for this day was Tabgha, also on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, the place where Yeshua feed the 5000. There is a German church there commemorating this miracle. A chapel has existed on this spot since at least the 4th Century. Then we turned in for the night, though most of us took a long walk into Tiberias to see what it was all about. It was stinky.

AFTER BAPTISM IN THE RIVER JORDAN
AFTER BAPTISM IN THE RIVER JORDAN
CAESAREA PHILIPPI
CAESAREA PHILIPPI
TIME FOR A LESSON AT CAESAREA PHILIPPI
TIME FOR A LESSON AT CAESAREA PHILIPPI
OUR TOUR GUIDE ARIEL
OUR TOUR GUIDE ARIEL
THE DAN RIVER
THE DAN RIVER
ANCIENT GATE AT DAN USED BY ABRAHAM
ANCIENT GATE AT DAN USED BY ABRAHAM
LEBANON
LEBANON
I PASSED ON THIS SCRUMPTIOUS LUNCH
I PASSED ON THIS SCRUMPTIOUS LUNCH

JORDAN RIVER

The following day featured one of the highlights of our trip: Baptism in the River Jordan. I had been baptized when I was 18 but it was wonderful to repeat the experience in the same river where Yeshua was baptized. Rabbi Bob explained to us something that astonished me: Before Christ, Jews also performed ritual baptism, called Mikveh. It is a cleansing or purification rite—a starting over. The immersion in water represents the death of your old self—your sins—and rising up out of immersion represents a new birth, clean from previous transgressions. I felt a rush of forgiveness when I rose up out of that water. The topper was that there were little fish continually nibbling at my feet. The way I look at it, I got a free pedicure! The River Jordan is puny by American standards, 60 feet across at its widest spot with a maximum depth of 17 feet. But I learned from our guide why it is so important: It is the one and only river in Israel! This is a land starved for precious fresh water. The River Jordan forms the boundary with the country of Jordan. It flows through the Sea of Galilee and farther south terminates at the Dead Sea.

We then traveled to the northernmost parts of Israel, to the foot of Mount Hermon, where Jesus was transfigured. From there we visited Banias, or Caesarea Philippi, another place Jesus said would become uninhabited—and it is. Banias was dedicated to the Greek god Pan during the times of Alexander the Great. It was known in Yeshua's time as the Mouth of Hell because to this day the bottom has not been found to the cave there.

Our last stop was the incredibly beautiful Dan Nature Reserve, near the Golan Heights. One can see Syria from here. We learned from our guide, Ariel, that "Jordan" means from the Dan. The Dan is one of three streams that form the River Jordan. From here we gazed upon Lebanese villages and saw foxholes and trenches used by Israeli soldiers during recent conflicts. We then came upon the excavation of the Altar of Jeroboam, constructed to worship idols nearly 3000 years ago. But the highlight of this adventure for me was the recently found ruins of a Canaanite City Gate where we are reasonably certain Abraham once walked. A city gate is not what we westerners imagine as a gate. It is instead a mini-fortress with watchtowers that served as an entrance to a city.

GIDEON'S CAVE AT THE SPRING OF HAROD
GIDEON'S CAVE AT THE SPRING OF HAROD
BEIT SHE'AN
BEIT SHE'AN
BEIT SHE'AN
BEIT SHE'AN

GIDEON

The next day we left Galilee and headed toward Jerusalem.  As we meandered southward, we drove past Mount Gilboah, where the first king of Israel, Saul, fell on his sword.  We stopped at the Spring of Harod (and Gideon's Cave), the site where Gideon (Mighty Warrior) and God formed his fighting force of 300 to battle against 120,000 Midianites, which he defeated by attacking at night—a tactic Israeli Defense Forces utilize to this day. 

We also visited Beit She'an.  This ancient Tel sits at the confluence of the Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley, making it one of the most important gateways to the land of Israel since ancient times.  Settlements here date to at least 1500 B.C.  It had been a major city for Canaanites and for Egyptians before it was conquered by the Jews.   Beit She'an was later known as Scythopolis during the Hellenistic period and became the Roman capital of the Decapolis, a group of Ten Greek Cities, during the days of Jesus.  It was a Christian city under the Byzantines for hundreds of years before it was conquered by Muslims in the 7th Century. Excavations have been ongoing since the 1920s and have uncovered what we see today: the remains of a beautiful Roman city. 

We continued down the Jordan River Valley a —great rift between continents— through Jericho, the oldest city on Earth, before crossing the Judean Desert to enter Jerusalem.    We stood on Mount Scopus and viewed the Holy City.  This was an incredibly moving event for me. All my life I had dreamed of visiting the Jerusalem and now I beheld it with my own eyes for the first time.

TAKING A DUMP OLD SCHOOL
TAKING A DUMP OLD SCHOOL
ROMAN BATHS AT BEIT SHE'AN
ROMAN BATHS AT BEIT SHE'AN
WHAT A LOVELY CREATURE
WHAT A LOVELY CREATURE
THE DECAPOLIS AND SURROUNDING AREA
THE DECAPOLIS AND SURROUNDING AREA
JUDEAN DESERT BETWEEN JERICHO AND JERUSALEM
JUDEAN DESERT BETWEEN JERICHO AND JERUSALEM

ISRAEL PICTURES

Most of these photos were taken by David Lawrence.

I will finish this story on my Hub, My Visit to Jerusalem, coming soon to a theatre near you.


YOUR AUTHOR
YOUR AUTHOR

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Comments 138 comments

IslandVoice profile image

IslandVoice 6 years ago from Hawaii

Tadah! We've been waiting for this! It's fabulous, and i plan to book a trip sometime soon! I will also bookmark this, and go over it slowly, just to have the 'feel' of where Jesus (and James) walked. The author''s lookin' good too


Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

When one goes

to Holy Land

he will never

be the same

Am I right James?


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

IslandVoice— Congratulations! You are my first visitor. I thought I looked worn out. Let me tell you, it involved a lot of walking and hill climbing—but of course, more than worth it. And we were going maybe 15 hours a day, too. Thank you for your compliments. It's always a pleasure to hear from you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Vladimir! Hello my friend. Thank you for coming to read my story. You are absolutely right.


Bail Up ! profile image

Bail Up ! 6 years ago

WOW, what an amazing trip! Wonderful pictures too. This might be as close I as I get to the Holy Land. Thanks for sharing.


John Cain profile image

John Cain 6 years ago from Dayton, Texas

What a trip!!! I loved the photos and all.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Bail Up !— It was truly amazing. And the best is yet to come: Jerusalem. We spent half our time there. I am pleased that you enjoyed the article and the photos. Thank you for coming and you are welcome.


jiberish profile image

jiberish 6 years ago from florida

Wonderful! Waiting breathlessly for it to continue!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

John Cain— Thank you! I am truly gratified by your response. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

jiberish— Thank you very much, dear. It may be a few days but I will finish this project before long. I appreciate you tuning in.


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

To walk where Jesus walked! Amazing! Love your response to the Jewish man on the plane - "I'm with Jesus!" Am looking forward to Jerusalem.


John Thorman 6 years ago

Hello James! So glad you are now writing about our trip! I really appreciate the details and being able to relive the experience as you write about it. I'm looking forward to the rest! God Bless you!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Cari Jean— Yes indeed! Truly amazing. Thank you for reading and leaving your enthusiastic response. It's nice to hear from you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

John Thorman— Hello my fellow traveler! It's great to hear from you, brother. I'm glad you liked it. I had been waiting for Skip's photos but then I was able to lift David's from his FB page so I went with those so I could get cracking. God Bless You!


infonaturale profile image

infonaturale 6 years ago from Nigeria

Great trip, I would love to visit Israel sometime in the near future. James, I wish I were in your shoes.


spiderpam profile image

spiderpam 6 years ago from USA

WOW,

This is amazing. Great photos!

God Bless


escritor profile image

escritor 6 years ago

I only hope that I might visit one day. I have become quite fond of these places as a result of research over the past 4 years for a novel. I try to experience, but it is not the same as being there. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Alan


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Hello, James A Watkins, this was an impressive hub and the picture, everyone of them there is something special in them. I never experienced anything like that. Thank you for sharing.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

infonaturale— Thank you for your kind comments. It was surely a great blessing for me to make this trip.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

spiderpam— Thank you very much. I appreciate you for reading my article and letting me know you enjoyed it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

escritor— Hey Alan. What is your novel about? You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Hello, hello, — I sure appreciate your gracious words. You are welcome. It was my pleasure to tell this tale today.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Hi James, What a fantastic trip. I loved all the pictures and the detailed explanations. To walk where Jesus walked, what a dream come true. Thanks for sharing the experience with all of us.


gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 6 years ago from North Texas

James,

Thanks for writing this. I took my first trip to the Holy Land in 2007 -- a lifelong dream for me. Some of these recent memories are being "bumped to the top of my brain" by your words and the beautiful photos.

I went with Jay Sekulow and his Messianic Rabbi brother, Scott. And, I, too, was a "last-minute" addition to our very big tour group. But, I'll tell you, there was a blessing in this. There were 7 buses on our trip, and I landed on the only one with a Christian tour guide (Hebrew Christian, actually). We opened each day with songs and prayer. It was great!

My favorite moment was sailing along on the Sea of Galilee. I will never have a more moving experience than to be on the same sea where Jesus spent some significant moments. P. S. Our tour guide, Sarah, encouraged us to dance. We did lots of that.

Glory to God!


Mardi profile image

Mardi 6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

James,

I have to admit (or confess) I rarely read all hubs through word for word, just sort of skim through them. This one I read twice, it is very moving and something I truly hope one day to have the honour to do. What a trip of a lifetime and I am so glad you were able to go.

Mardi (not too bright but trying)


ArchDynamics profile image

ArchDynamics 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

King James:

Stellar travelogue! I suspect you saw and did enough that you could have turned any one of these paragraphs into a Hub Page of its own.

Good to see you wearing that Cubs cap, too!


Dynamics 6 years ago

James, thanks for sharing such amazingly wonderful pictures. It must be an awesome experience to walk where Jesus walked over 2000 years ago. I would love to make that trip in my lifetime.

Thanks again for allowing us to live vicariously through your experience. I got chills just looking at some of the pictures.


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

This would be great. I glad you were able to do this.

Keep on hubbing!


DGMischSr profile image

DGMischSr 6 years ago from Maricopa, AZ

Fantastic James & I know you well enough to finish this segment as a tribute to the Cub's LOL. We'll have to get together soon. It's been several months brother.


SheriSapp profile image

SheriSapp 6 years ago from West Virginia

Thank you so much for sharing all your tour photos and highlights. I am not brave enough to venture to that part of the world even if I could afford it. I will definitely be sharing this hub with my friends and family. Thanks again!!!!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

James A. Watkins, Thank you for sharing this amazing virtual journey. It was well worth the wait! It was simply extraordinary. I am happy for you that the Lord made it all possible through your friend. Wonderful how He allowed those doors to open, it looks as though you were in such great company. Always a treat to have someone to share and revive the journey with you!

I like your statement:“I'm with JESUS” Wonderful balcony view and how nice to share “Dance on the Sea of Galilee.” Wow! To be baptized in the Jordan, what a reminder of His forgiveness and purification, dedication! Great setting on the Mount of the Beatitudes so like JESUS to stand at the bottom…. To be able to literally walk where the Master has walk must be quite endearing!

To know that GOD is with you FOREVER and through ETERNITY can give you such an appreciation for life on this side of HEAVEN… How wonderful He even made them give you 100 hubscore! Thank you for sharing the highlights and photography! Looking forward to more… Blessings!


GPAGE profile image

GPAGE 6 years ago from California

Hey James! I'm glad you got my "hat and glasses" memo! ; cute pic!

Really wonderful hub. I just need to know the look on the man's face when you said "I'm with Jesus." It must have been "priceless." GREAT scene for a film...the visual that you wrote about is "priceless!"

The places that you mentioned. Caesarea Maritima, Tel Megiddo and the village of Cana are places I want to see. I have a feeling I will be going there in the next year or two. Now, not sure Mikveh would work for me? ; ha Sort of like hanging onto all of the "sins" ha.....helps me write better songs! ha

No really, glad you had an amazing trip! AND that feeling when you came out of the water....."divine." I can just imagine it! How was the weather when you emerged?.....

clouds? Was the sun shining? G


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Pamela99— This trip was absolutely a long held dream come true. I am so glad you enjoyed the journey. Thank you for your comments and you are welcome. :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

gracenotes— You are welcome. Cruising on the Sea of Galilee was something I had very much looked forward to, after I saw the itinerary. I am glad you also had a wonderful trip. Our tour guide and driver were terrific and the teaching from Rabbi Bob and Pastor Moen was wonderfully edifying. The fact that we had a small group made even better, I think.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my article and leaving your comments. I'm glad I could bring back memories for you.

Shalom


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Mardi— How gratifying it is to read your remarks. I can only hope I was able to convey 10% of how wonderful it actually was, especially in a short space. Thank you very much.


drcrischasse profile image

drcrischasse 6 years ago from NH/Foxboro

I am so jealous, what an experience.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

ArchDynamics— Hello my friend! :-)

You are so right in your comment about how many words I could write about this trip. This is the MTV version. I do love the Cubs. Thanks for coming by and letting me know you did.

The King James Version


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Dynamics— Let's see . . . I have Dynamics and I have ArchDynamics! It's hard to tell you guys apart. :D

You are most welcome. The photos are beautiful. It was my pleasure to share my journey. Thank you for reading about it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

eovery— It was one of the greatest blessings for me ever. Thank you for tuning in and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

DGMischSr— Let's do get together Dan. I'm only three hours away! :-)

Thanks for coming Broham. I always enjoy hearing your voice.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

SheriSapp— You are surely welcome. I appreciate you sharing the Hub with others. That's nice of you. Thank you coming and leaving your warm words here for me.


advisor4qb profile image

advisor4qb 6 years ago from On New Footing

What an awesome hub! And 100 score to boot! You Rock!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

DeBorrah K. Ogans— I don't know what happened but I just noticed my author score is up to 100! That is a first as far as I know. Wow! What a surprise. The Lord works in mysterious ways. :D

You are welcome. God definitely opened doors for me that had been closed. I'm not sure my feet are even back on the ground yet. In Jerusalem an author spoke to us in his bookstore and said, "No one comes to the Holy Land by accident. If you are here it is because God invited you. And you accepted His invitation."


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

GPAGE— I did get the memo. Thanks! I was simply following your example.

I forgot to add an important aspect to that story. When I told him I was with Jesus I closed one eye tight. That gave it a bit more effect. :-) He didn't know what to think a few seconds. Then, he simply seemed to accept it and moved on. I had a dozen people during the trip assume I was Jewish and one stranger added that I "looked" Jewish. This is even besides the first day when I wore my Orthodox black hat. :D

The water in the Jordan was warm and wonderful. But there are little fish that continually nibble at your feet. That was kind of weird. I figured I was getting a pedicure.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

drcrischasse— I'm glad you came by. I had a note somewhere to take some time to read some of your Hubs because I like your titles. Then I lost the note and forgot. Now I am reminded. Thanks!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

advisor4qb— I know and it's still there! Thank you, dear, for your encouragement.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA

Wow, James, you made it! I mean your going to Israel. I am very happy for you. I didn't read the hub yet, I've seen it and hurried to congratulate you! Now I am going back to read your report.

P.S. When you go there next time, let me know, my friends can take you there places where groups don't go. There are so many Biblical places there out of the common route...


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA

Great description, great pictures. I agree with Vladimir- one is never the same after breathing air of Israel. Now I am waiting to read about your impression of Jerusalem.

P.S. Even not Orthodox Jews pray on a sun rise…. I think you look pretty Jewish, that’s why a gentlemen offered you to pray. I hope you realize that Jesus in his time was praying exactly the same prayers the man on a plane was....


creativeone59 profile image

creativeone59 6 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

Thanks for a very interesting and informative hub, I always wanted to go the Jordan river. I'm glad you made the trip. Thank you for sharing it. Godspeed. creativeone59


febriedethan profile image

febriedethan 6 years ago from Indonesia

Thank you for sharing this, you were so lucky! I always dream about the Holy Land for years, hope I could manage to go there someday :) I always want to visit the Upper Room. wonderful hub!


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India

Very informative hub - thanks - and the pictures are great too! There's a wonderful video on the 'net of the Holy Sepulchre:

http://www.360tr.com/kudus/kiyamet_eng/index.html


Nemingha profile image

Nemingha 6 years ago

Now I'm jealous, you have been to one of the few places I haven't! Love that camel!


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 6 years ago from Arizona

James,

a nice summation to start the day. It is a trip I have often thought of. You have been blessed. I look forward to the rest of the story.


Lily Rose profile image

Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

Wow, looks like you had a wonderful trip. I love the pictures! Our neighbors are from Israel (just moved to the US about 2 years ago) and have told us a lot about it. I look forward to Part 2...


UPStar profile image

UPStar 6 years ago

I have heard that visiting the Holy Land takes the Bible from being black and white to being in color. I hope to go someday! You are blessed indeed to have visited!!


Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV

James,

Thank you for sharing your journey and for the beautiful pictures. It is truly awe inspiring. I almost felt like I was trekking with you. God bless you brother.


susansisk profile image

susansisk 6 years ago from Georgia, USA

Beautiful pictures! Thank you for writing this. You are fortunate to have been able to go there.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

ReuVera— I finally made it, after a lifetime of wanting to walk in the Holy Land. It was like a dream. I would enjoy going back and if I do I will take you up on that offer. Thank you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

ReuVera— Welcome back. Thank you. Your comments are awesome! Thanks so much for making them here. Great to hear from you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

creativeone59— You are welcome. Being baptized in the Jordan was what I looked forward to the most. Thank you for your comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

febriedethan— You are welcome, and yes: I am lucky and blessed beyond belief. I hope you do get to visit the Holy Land someday—and stand in the Upper Room. God Bless!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Shalini Kagal— Thank you and you are surely welcome. I appreciate that link. It is beautiful and I bookmarked it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Nemingha— Isn't that camel photo great!? David Lawrence in the camera there. Thank you for visiting and leaving word that you did.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

50 Caliber— Hey! I will add that I saw a lot of caves there! :D

I have been greatly blessed. Thank you for the visitation and comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Lily Rose— The trip was an amazing adventure. Part Two shall come forthwith. It was my pleasure to share. Thank you for your remarks.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

UP Star— Black and white to color. I like that! Very Apropos. Very true. It's amazing how small the country is. And yet, how big it is in terms of significance and wonders. I hope you do go someday. It has changed me. I appreciate your comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Tom Whitworth— Hello, brother Tom. You are most welcome. I enjoyed putting this together for my friends. God Bless You!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

susansisk— Welcome to the Hub Pages Community!

I am very fortunate. Thank you and you are welcome.


upal19 profile image

upal19 6 years ago from Dhaka

What a nice hub! I ate it up. My country doesn't permit us to go there. Your nicely described hub has informed me so much about those holy sites. Thanks James.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

upal19— Thank you! I am so pleased that you enjoyed my article about the journey. It was quite a trip. You are welcome.


Katee 6 years ago

What an inspiring trip, can't wait to see your Jerusalem blog! Sailing on the Sea of Galilee? That is just awe-inspiring!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Sounds like your trip was perfect for you.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Katee— Hey! I know you! :-)

I appreciate you reading my article. I hope all is well with you and your loved ones. Thank you for letting me know you were here.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

ethel smith— You are so right! It was perfect for me. Very astute observation.


Artemus Gordon profile image

Artemus Gordon 6 years ago

This would be such an amazing trip, there is so much history in this area. It is a shame just how much of it we are losing to the conflicts which plague the whole region.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Artemus Gordon— The conflicts in the Middle East are tragic. I hear that Syria and Jordan are also interesting places to go but few Westerners venture there for fear of getting their heads cut off on the internet. The trip was grande. Thank you for reading and commenting. I do appreciate it.


lindagoffigan profile image

lindagoffigan 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

James A. Watkins, I am honored that you shared such a trip as this to the hubpage community. The photos were magnificent especially the photo of the author who made all hope for the same experience. Quite a different take I dare say from the article on interracial couples. You can see where your interest is and in the right place. Good to see you made it home again.


"Quill" 6 years ago

Drolling over the photos and the wealth of information James...very well put together. Mrs. Quill and I are thinking of taking a trip soon and why not to a place with true beliefs and history of our faith. Lets just call this a "Wow" hub...

Blessings


Kebennett1 profile image

Kebennett1 6 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

Absolutely wonderful James. The pictures are terrific and I can only say how much I wish I could have been there! It has always been a prayer of mine to walk in the foot steps of Jesus and visit the places he visited and lived! You have been given a great blessing!


Alana 6 years ago

Simply breathtaking pictures and awesome writing. Feel as if I were there myself.


Alana 6 years ago

Mamaw would have been proud!


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

James,

I thoroughly enjoyed this hub-what a fantastic experience;and I must say beautifully told too.Love the photos also.

I very much look forward to more.


Allan McGregor profile image

Allan McGregor 6 years ago from South Lanarkshire

Best piccies I've seen of many of these locations. They fairly whetted my appetite. Although the ladies captioned as 'Dancing on the Sea of Galilee', were actually dancing on the deck of a vessel. It was Jesus who danced, or at least walked, on the water, although Peter had a stab at it, too.

The photo of Elijah's statue reminded me of a true story told by either Derek Prince or David Pawson. I forget which, because both men served in the British military out there. Whichever one it was, had a British friend in the police serving there, who found a remarkable fragment of stone which he took to the university in Jerusalem for analysis. A professor there examined it and asked him where he had found it, because he said, it definitely didn't come from Israel. The policeman asked him why, and the professor explained it was because the stone was glazed on one side, indicating exposure to volcanic heat and there were no active volcanoes in Israel that could have been responsible for such a melting.

The policeman told of how the professor went visibly pale and was clearly shaken when he revealed how he had found the rock on Mount Carmel, right where the Bible tells us that Elijah prayed and Yahweh sent down fire which not only consumed the whole offering but the water in the trench and the very stones of the altar.

Suddenly, with what he held in his hand, the academic didn't find the Bible story quite as fanciful as he had previously imagined.


muley84 profile image

muley84 6 years ago from Miami,FL

A remarkable story, and I am sure an unforgettable trip. We missed you while you were away. Peace mike


dusanotes profile image

dusanotes 6 years ago from Windermere, FL

Thanks, James, the Cub fan. I really enjoyed this Hub. Our family reads scriptures nightly. We just got through with the New Testament. But the light of our understanding was scant compared to yours following such a fantastic trip. Your photos were wonderful and I was glad to see your image in the final one. Don White


Moonchild60 profile image

Moonchild60 6 years ago

Hi James - Wonderful and informative Hub!! Three things - My husband is dying to go back to Israel to visit family and friends and wants me to go with him this Winter. I wasn't so sure, but now that I read your Hub, I just might go after all (just not for an entire month as he suggests).

2) Can not BELIEVE you turned down that Fish and Chips...LOL...

3) Growing the hair long...love it!!


Bob0 6 years ago

It wouldn't hurt if you checked Gaza Strip out too, would it?


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

lindagoffigan— How pleased am I that you took the time to come by and review my article. I know how busy you are with your own very popular Hubs. Thank you much for your kind comments.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

"Quill"— If you and Mrs. Quill can make it, I highly recommend that you do. I still cannot quite wrap my arms around the whole experience. It is a life-changing journey. Thank you for your gracious compliments. I am grateful to read them.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Kebennett1— Thank you so much for expressing your appreciation and approval. I hope your dream comes true. I agree with you: I have been richly blessed.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Alana— Is this my cousin from Michigan!? What a pleasure to receive you here. Thank you for your compliments. I love you!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Alana— Referring to our saintly prophetess grandmother yes, she would have been proud. There seems to be different opinions about whether she ever made this trip during her earthly life.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

itakins— It is gratifying to know you enjoyed this Hub. Thank you for letting me know. You have warmed my heart.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Allan McGregor— Thank you for complimenting the photos. I accept on behalf of David Lawrence, the man who shot them. I agree that he did a great job.

To you and me the ladies are dancing on the deck of a vessel; to them they were dancing on the Sea of Galilee. :D

Your story about the stones found on Mt. Carmel is fascinating. I believe they have found more burnt stones since then.

Thanks for reading my article and leaving your fine comments. Always great to hear from you, my learned friend.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

muley84— What nice words you have left for me, Mike. Thank you. :-)

Shalom


SirDent 6 years ago

Sure reads like you had a great time. I love all the photos. One day I will also be able to go there.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

dusanotes— You are welcome, Don. I am well pleased that you enjoyed this Hub. I agree that a trip to the Holy Land surely increases one's understanding of the Bible by providing a visual context to the stories. It was just wonderful. Thank you for the visit and the comments.


Allan McGregor profile image

Allan McGregor 6 years ago from South Lanarkshire

Is David Lawrence a professional photographer? The clarity of his work is outstanding.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Moonchild60— Thank you! I would surely go and I think a month would be a perfect period of time. There is so much to see in a compact area. Truly amazing.

That fish was not calling my name. :-)

Thanks for your comments. Truly a pleasure to see your remarks.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Bob0— I don't believe tourists are allowed in there. Or if it is safe. If the answer is yes on both counts, I'm game.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

SirDent— I did have a great time. Mr. Lawrence is a fine photographer. Please do go if you get the opportunity. Thank you for reading and commenting.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Allan McGregor— Not that I know of. He is a high school Physics teacher and Cross Country coach. He used an interesting gadget that looks like a big steering wheel. I've never seen anything like it but after viewing his photos, I must say: it works!


SirDent 6 years ago

I thinK I will no doubt go there one day riding on a white horse :p


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

SirDent— Indeed you will, my Brother!


gusripper profile image

gusripper 6 years ago

Perfect photo's.There is a beautiful side of ISRAEL.I hope you had nice days there.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

gusripper— Thank you very much. There certainly is. I had wonderful days there. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Allan McGregor profile image

Allan McGregor 6 years ago from South Lanarkshire

What's with the 'white horse' SirDent? Revelation mentions two guys on white horses. One is the glorified Christ Jesus (19:11) and the other is the First Horseman, who brings false doctrine (6:2). I'm glad to say you don't qualify as either. (;D)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Allan McGregor— Whooops! I may have been caught with my pants down!


dara 6 years ago

Welcome home James! I love your photos of this trip... especially the “Jordon River” and the “Valley of Armageddon” .

Also, I am very happy that you fulfilled your dream to explore Israel. I am always amazed of the power of intention and how directing positive thought alone can make things happen...Ya think?

You are someone I knew a long time ago but lost touch with. Nevertheless, my memory of you, after many years of not seeing or knowing you, is the same as how I see you now( without seeing you literally). I find you Passionate,Incredibly deep and possessed of a rare non judgmental kindness. But,of course as a good wine we often get better with age.

Also, I was wondering what you meant by “:one eye closed”. Please pontificate.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

dara— Thank you! Gosh, it has been years since I've seen you. 35 years perhaps? A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then, eh kid? Your lovely compliments have made me blush! You are the sweetest girl I ever knew.

When I answered his question I closed one eye and looked deep into his eye with my open eye. Picture it. You never gave anybody the "one-eyed" look?

Thanks so much for letting me know you were here.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Hi James, Way very cool. You are a blessing for sharing your wonderful journey. I hope one day I will make it to the Holy Land. I got very inspired to pray for that to happen soon while reading. I have seen tour pictures and read of other adventures this sounds like a 'top list' tour. I think this journey changed your life? Walking on the ground of the messiah has got to be 'glorious' to say the least. I wrote new hub 'Redeemer' I took a break from hub pages not on purpose. I was on a journey myself, called 'Growing'.

I realize why we are called children of God and not adults of God. With Love James. The author is not to difficult to look at as well. Cheers to you from a 4ever fan. Hugs.

PS The dumping ground for reals? I laughed so hard are you serious? I need an answer. I am still laughing great picture.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

skye2day— I hope you make it over there, too. It is the most amazing place on Earth. This journey surely changed my life. I can't even put it into words. It was glorious. I hope the journey you were on was edifying for you. Thank you so much for your gracious words here.

That is indeed a Roman public toilet—unisex, too, as they have only found one! Going potty was a public event! Then they had a sponge on a little stick which you would rinse off after using in that little trough of running water by your feet. So the next person could use it.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

James, Thank You for the awesome comment. All in his name and Glory.

OMGosh, Good thing I was not living in that time. I would have to go find a bush. Too Funny. Love ya James, you are too funny. The picture is something. I am laughing again. Thank you for clearing the air on that for me.

Make my day. Technology has come a long way. Whew. Hugs


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

skye2day— You're welcome. Technology has come a long way. If you look closely, there is a separate slab for each cheek. You look pretty thin-hipped. You might have fallen in! :(


Mitch King profile image

Mitch King 6 years ago from Wilsoville, OR, USA

Thanks for sharing your trip! I have such little time to travel on my own because of my kids. So I have to live vicariously through others.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Mitch King— You're welcome! I am glad to be of service. It looks like you're pretty busy with the stocks, too. You could take a trip with the kids, maybe? Unless they're babies. Thanks for tuning in.


GRivers 6 years ago

Great trip! Thanks for sharing it, now I feel as though I have been there too!


Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 6 years ago from New England

Hi James,

Wow! Thank you for sharing this trip! I'd love to travel to the Holy Land someday. I will show this hub to my Mom, since she was there over 20 years ago with a Paulist priest from Boston (where I now attend the Paulist Center). This'll bring back some great memories for her. I have enjoyed reading the first few paragraphs and looking at the photos. Love that camel photo! I look forward to revisiting this hub and reading more!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

GRivers— Thank you! You are welcome. I am glad you enjoyed it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Seafarer Mama— You are most welcome! That camel is . . . cute. PLease come back and finish the journey. My hope is that it is worth your time. Welcome to HubPages!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hi, the pics are awesome, and of course the place too, what an experience, Breathtaking actually, I like the river, Jordan river, and the Roman baths too, like the way the old structures come into place, like looking at that! and the SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM too is nice structure, you are lucky you were able to go there,

have a good day always!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

prettydarkhouse— Thank you so much for coming to visit and for your kind comments. The Jordan River was a big highlight for me. Those Roman baths—those round things are supports that held up the floor, which is gone. So, hot water would flow in under the floor, and steam would go up ducts to where the people were. It is amazing what technologies the Romans had. I was surely lucky to fulfill this dream.


His daughter 6 years ago

These are such GREAT pictures! Thanks for sharing them. I sure can see why you passed on that lunch. Loved the dancing on the Sea of Galilee and the picture of the camel is just great! What a wonderful experience you must have had!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

His daughter— Thank you! You are welcome. That lunch did not look appetizing to me. It was an amazing adventure.


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful hub and fantastic photos. God Bless You


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

stars439--- This was the trip of a lifetime. I am glad you came by to read my report. Always great to hear from you, my friend.


Michael Shane profile image

Michael Shane 6 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

Great pictures! This is a place I hope to visit one day. Great article!!!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Michael Shane--- Thank you! There is no place I could recommend more highly in my travels. It is an awesome experience.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Wow, that was some trip. I would love to visit the Sea of Galilee and Copernaum. It looks so beautiful. I can't imagine walking in the footsteps of Jesus and seeing the places where He preached. I think I'd cry my eyeballs out. It must have been an amazingly emotional trip. Thanks so much for sharing it.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Dolores Monet--- Indeed it was an amazing trip. We had so much packed in that writing this helped me unpack it all and appreciate what I had experienced all the more. There were some tears.

You are welcome, dear. Thank you for your fine comments.


lctodd1947 profile image

lctodd1947 6 years ago from USA

Just read this...this is wonderful and amazing. I am sure it was a wonderful feeling to be where Jesus traveled and the other Bible saints.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Ictodd1947— It was wonderful and amazing to walk where Jesus walked. It is hard to put into words. I did the best I could. Thank you for visiting and commenting. :-)


Hotels in Carmel CA 6 years ago

Really a nice hub with great photos. Thanks


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

Hotels in Carmel CA— Thank you! And you are welcome.


HolyLandGifts profile image

HolyLandGifts 6 years ago from Vancouver

Lovely pictures Looking forward to visit israel soon :)


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago Author

HolyLandGifts— Thank you. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. There is no place on earth I would recommend more highly to visit than Israel.


Truly Different profile image

Truly Different 5 years ago from Israel.

Bob0 wrote 11 months ago: It wouldn't hurt if you checked Gaza Strip out too, would it?

Bob0, there is not much to see there. Just undeveloped land with dust and gray buildings, very little trees. Arabs don't care about their land, they are more busy plotting destruction to a blooming land of their neighbors. Also,if you are a Jew and you somehow enter there, most likely you'll be lynched by Arabs. If you are doing business with them, it's another story, you might be all right.

Otherwise, people just live there. Check this:

http://www.paltoday.ps/arabic/News-49213.html

http://www.paltoday.ps/arabic/News-64161.html


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago Author

Thank you for providing those fascinating links! It looks as if the people are enjoying themselves and it is quite colorful. I had no idea parts of Gaza looked like this.

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