From Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale

People disappear when they die. Their voices, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living mempry of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continut to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humour, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.

--Diane Setterfield

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Trip V

On Wednesdy, November 3rd we drove out towards Jericho again. This time we drove through the West Bank in order to get to Bet She'an*. It was so beautiful. There was a little model of the whole of the city as it has been excavated** and a little path that lead right into the heart of the city. The road is clearly laid out before you and Roman columns line one side of the road. There are more columns laying as rubble on the other side. The detailed carving is exquisite and the capstones from the columns are huge! Thee was a big amphitheater where we heard a solo from Matt and then we were allowed to go explore*** the excavations**** and we got to see how the bath houses worked*****. 
After everyone was done exploring the ancient capitol of 10 cities we drove to a round, symmetrical Mount Tabor where Christ was transfigured+. There are three tabernacles there; one for Christ, one for Moses and one for Elijah. The keys of the priesthood were given to Peter, James and John on the mount. We only made it part way up the mountain before we learned that other tour buses had gotten there first and we would not  be able to visit. So we took pictures. We saw Deborah which is a town at the base named for the Prophetess who witnessed Christ as a baby in the temple.We went instead to a Khirbet where they actually served ham++! We choose to go to the grocer and buy stuff to make a lunch. They had all sorts of regular foods as well as some weird looking food and some obviously American food (HoneyNut Cheerios for example). Then we drove to Mount Precipice. From the top of the mountain we could see all over the country+++. The view that was directly before us, though, was that of Armageddon. The site where the Last Battle will be fought. We could see Nazareth and Mt. Carmel as well as the Mt. of Transfiguration and the Israeli Air Force base++++. Then we traveled to Galilee which is a territory. The biggest city is Nazareth where we visited a reenactment village. The Nazareens who worked there dressed in period costume and acted out life as it would have been in Christ's time#. We saw a wine press and a working olive press and learned about the differences in the first second and third pressings of olives. We learned that because there was almost no wood / trees in Nazareth, carpenters were also stone workers or masons. After our tour through the village we were each given an oil lamp. We got back on the bus and drove to the River Jordan where we saw where Christ was baptized. Looking down the river one way was practically unchanged from the way Christ and John the Baptist would have seen it. The other was was SO commercialized. There was a path leading into the water and pilgrims with (only) a flimsy white sheet on baptizing themselves.  I grabbed some souvioners and we drove to a new hotel in Tiberius. 

* Also known as Nysa-Scythopolis. This name dates back to the Hellenistic Period where Roman tradition said the city was created by Dionysus and his nursemaid was buried there. Regardless of the original founder or the name, the city was Palestinian territory but has been held as an Israeli occupied territory since 1946.

** But I didn't really pay attention.

*** We ran up the Tel and looked out over the whole of the city and ran down again so we would not be late getting to the other sites of the day. On the way down we stopped twice. Once to see olive trees with obvious grafts in them. and another time to see the place where the only skeleton in the city was found^.

^ There was an earthquake that destroyed the city. The people mus have known it was coming because everyone else got out. There was one man who returned for some gold. We know this because his skeleton was found under a column that had toppled over; his arm outstretched and just outside his grasp was a bag of coins. 

**** There were architects still working on uncovering parts of the city. !!!

***** This information was old news to me, I learned it in High School Latin, but it was fascinating to see the implements used. In person. 

+ conviently also know as the Mount of Transfiguration. 

++ This is amazing when you realize that it is against their (Muslim and Jewish) religious law to eat pork products, so a farm village that sells pork for consumption is very rare indeed.

+++ Honestly! We could see Jordan on one side and the Mediterranean Sea on the other. 

++++ Well, we couldn't actually see the base as it is hidden underground and we were not favored with a jet landing or taking off. But Aladdin showed us where it was.

# We saw how they farmed in terraces on a hillside and kept watch in a 'tower' at night. Many of the parables of the sower and gardens being watched make more sense when you realize that each family had one row / terrace to tend and they sowed their seeds by throwing them. Some seeds would land in their terrace, some on the terraces near them, some on the stony path leading up the hill (which split the terraces in half) and some on the ground outside the 'farm'. The bedrock is so close to the surface that just scrubby grass grows there. 
The tower was level with the top of the hill on one side and tower like on the bottom of the hill. The same farmers who lived and worked there would keep watch over the crops at night. The thieves would be their neighbors. They would give a shout if they saw someone come to steal produce and the other farmers would rush out of their houses which were located at the top of the hill. I think it was amazing that they would know who was stealing. Many times we have no idea who a thief is in our lives now.