Golan Heights and on to Amman in Jordan
I have slipped a day behind and this is a bit of a catch up from yesterday as well. We left the Sea of Galilee for a trip into the top corner of Israel. This is the area that was taken by Israel in the 6 day war from Syria. The Golan Heights, with Mt Hermon as a back drop across the valley. There was remnants of snow on the mountain. As an aside, Mt Hermon is suggested as a place where Jesus may have been transfigured, no proof of course. Half of Mt Hermon is Syrian territory and the other half Israeli. Our guide gave us a run down on the various wars Israel has fought with the Arabs over the years and the territorial ‘gains ‘ and ‘losses’ arising from each. It was quite impassioned and at times personal account (he is actually a member of the reserves forces). Looking down from the Golan Heights into both Lebanon and Syria left one in awe of the issues involved in the ongoing war of words and conflict. They are somewhat intractable problems it seems.
Prior to reaching the Golan Heights we stopped in at the Tel Dan which is an ancient fortress site with many layers of inhabitation. One of the most significant sites here is the Canaanite gate which has been dated back to Circa 2700 BCE, which was the time Abraham was wandering through this area, he may have actually passed by here and entered the town through this gate. The Tel is situated on one of the ancient cross roads of the time. The Gate is at the base of the Tel and there are other gates higher up the hill built at later times of occupation. The Tel is also the area that contains one of the sources of the Jordan River. We walked around here and followed the course of the stream to the pool seen in the attached photo. It was a very peaceful area.
From here we moved on to Caesarea Philippi an ancient Roman town built by one of Herod’s sons (check this !) which has long disappeared. The area we visited once was occupied by a Roman temple complex for the god Pan, various remnants of this remain. Pan was the god of the underworld and what we might call ‘wild living’, ‘party animals’ etc. There is a grotto here that would have been at the back of the temple and which was referred to as the Gates of Hades. This site is particularly significant in the Jesus story because it was here that Jesus charged Peter (means ‘rock’) as the rock on which he would build the church …………. and the Gates of Hades will not overcome it. The reference to Gates of Hades actually places Jesus and Peter at this spot, but also can refer to the Pan lifestyle being a potential threat to the Church which will be overcome.
Moving on it is Sunday and we have arrived in Amman after spending time at Bet She’an, a Roman city which was flattened by an earthquake and then subsequently covered over. It has been subject to ongoing excavation since the 1960s. It is really quite a spectacular site covering a large area. Pictures speak louder than words about this place. It is linked to the Israelite story because it was on the walls of Bet She’an that King Saul’s body was hung.
The border crossing was a quite involved process of checking and cross checking, particularly on the Jordanian side, and took over an hour to complete before we headed off on the two hour drive to Amman.
Tomorrow we head to Petra.