Caesarea, Mount Carmel and Nazareth

Today was my first taste of Ancient Israel.  We started by going to the town of Caesarea.  It was built by Herod the Great in about 25-13 BC.  It was an important port and administrative centre for Roman Control in Judea.  Crusaders from France rebuilt parts of the city in the 13th Century to have a port to command on the Mediterranean. 
Here is a picture of me in my Riders Jersey standing beside some 700 year old ruins.

At first we were only seeing the ruins from the 13th Century, it got much more exciting once we started finding the area that was built by the Romans.  We saw large marble canyons, a Hippodrone and then a grand amphitheatre.

What made it really exciting is that we looked in Acts for references of Caesarea and realized that the first Gentile convert and his family - Cornelius the Centurion - were from Caesarea.  We knew that they would have been sitting in these same seats!  You can read the story of Cornelius in Acts 10
Now we were on our way to Mount Carmel.  We stopped at a restaurant along the way that had a tremendous buffet!  The hummus tastes so great here in Israel.  We had a pita with shnitsel (tenderized chicken coated and deep fried - very tasty) and were told to load up in the salad bar that had great selection of fresh salad.  We then drove to Mount Carmel and hiked up on a path that took us to interesting site.
A Catholic Religious Order called the Carmelites was founded on Mount Carmel in the cave that it is believed to be where Elijah hid out from King Ahab.  There has been a monastery on the top of Mount Carmel since the 13th Century.  Carmelite tradition suggests that a community of Jewish Hermits had lived at the site from the time of Elijah until the Carmelites were founded there.
Here is a sculpture depicting the story of Elijah and the Baal Prophets from Kings 18.

We met a very nice lady in the souvenir shop at the monastery.  She shared with us how she believes in Jesus and knows it in her heart.  She talked about the importance of faith and we need Jesus because of our human sinfulness.  It was a heartwarming meeting.
We then got a chance to take a breathtaking view of Jezreel Valley.

Now we drove towards our guest house that we had booked on the Sea of Galilee called the Beit Bracha Prayer and Retreat Centre.  On our way, we passed by Nazareth and I said, let's check it out.  Then we went looking for the Basilica of the Annunciation.  We sort of got lost and ended up going up a road and we saw two people from Hague, Saskatchewan walking on the street.

Yes it was Henry and Erna Funk!  It was great to see them and to just run into them in Israel was special.  They have been volunteering at Nazareth Village - a first century recreation and the Nazareth Trust Christian Hospital.  We parked our car at the hospital, made plans to meet for supper and hiked off to see the Basilica.
After supper with the Funks and a fellow volunteer named Jonathon from Switzerland we headed off on our route to Beit Bracha.
We had an exciting day!

Categories: Israel 2014