Monday, April 9, 2007


When it rains, it pours. But luckily we haven't seen any rain since we got back from Galilee. It did pour on us the last day, though, when we went to Acre. But, if rain refers to schoolwork, then we've been drowning:). We just took our New Testament midterm, finished our scripture journals, and, well, some of us have finished the research paper (10 pages, so not too bad). I wrote my paper on "The Gates of the City of Jerusalem." It sounds really cool if you say the title in a James Earl Jones-like voice. Go ahead, try it.
Well, sorry about the personal indulgence there. I promised I'd tell you about Galilee, and I'll do it in chronological order. I'll try to make it not sound like a travelogue.
In the New Testament, there are various reference to the Decapolis. Well, Bet She'an is one of those cities, it also boasts one of the best Roman baths in the area. I'd always heard of roman baths, but I'd never really known what they were before I came here. Well, get ready for the history lecture.
The Romans loved to feel clean and they would have huge bathhouses dedicated to just that. In any bath, there would be three rooms, the caulderium, the tepidarium, and the frigidarium. You can tell easily enough what they are from the base words but I'll give a little background. The caulderium was hot, really hot, but they didn't exactly have a hot water heater to do that. The entire floor was built up on little, 4" wide columns that were about 18 inches high. Just outside the room was a huge fireplace that would force hot air underneath the floor and through the ceramic tubes in the walls. Suddenly, with a hot floor and ceiling, just add water and you get a smoke-free sauna. In this room, they would use blunt knife-like objects to scrape their skin completely clean.
After the caulderium, the tepidarium was an intermediate room with warm water. They would have stayed here for a little while to cool down before heading to the frigidarium, where they would take a nice, cold dip to finish off. After that, you could probably get a nice massage, and hopefully no one had stolen your clothes at the entrance.
Near the town of Nazareth you'll find the ancient city of Sepphoris. In the days of Christ this would have been a bustling metropolis, while the town of Nazareth would have had no more that 500 people, according to some scholars. Well the roles are completely reversed now. There is an interesting question that we should ask: "Why did Joseph, who's tribal inheritance was in Bethlehem(and hence, he went there to be taxed), end up in Nazareth, hundreds of kilometers to the north?" Some people have speculated that when Herod Antipas ordered the rebuilding of the city Sepphoris, which was destroyed when the city rebelled, Joseph may have come north for work. It's just a theory, but an interesting possibility. One thing that we learned here is that the actual Greek word for Joseph and Jesus' profession is better translated as "Craftsman" or "Master Builder," implying work in wood, stone, or metal. This especially relates to stone and metal. Since most construction was done in stone in those days, this makes sense.
I'm going to keep loading the new insights on you. :) Peter and Andrew, brothers, were both born in Bethsaida, but they didn't stay there too long. They moved to Capernaum, just a few miles away, and set up shop there. It is thought that between these two cities, on the northwest shore of Galilee, is where Christ issued the call "Follow me." This isn't because of convenience, but due to the fact that there are seven warm springs on a hill in this area. These springs flow down and cause slightly warmer water, which provides more abundant food for fish. We can see why Peter, James, John, Andrew, and other fishermen, would want to set up shop here.
Capernaum wasn't discovered until the 1800's. It is almost entirely built of beautiful black stone, with just a synagogue and what people assume to be Peter's home, built out of a lighter color. It is interesting to think that Christ spoke of people that dwelt in darkness, while the dark interiors of the homes in the area actually mirrored the spiritual darkness that he spoke of. It is here that he did some of the most memorable and important acts of his ministry. He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. The woman with the issue of blood was healed. He healed the centurion's servant. The 70 were appointed and sent forth. Peter caught the fish with a coin in its mouth for the temple tax. He discoursed on the Bread of Life. The list goes on. But Capernaum, Bethsaida, and Corzin, though they saw great miracles, were slow to have faith in Jesus, and they were cursed for their lack of faith. The evidence shows when you think that each city had at least 15,000 inhabitants, and they were all completely lost for thousands of years.
I'll tell you about Caesarea Phillipi, but there's a lot to do tonight (We have to finish our musical number for tomorrow night's concert). So I'll bid you adieu.
btw, that is my absolute favorite picture of Galilee. It's taken from Mount Arbel, and I think it captures it perfectly.

1 comment:

marquita chiquita said...

Hey Matt, this is marquita Garcia (well, now marqutia dowler) from high school. I saw a link to your blog from Andrew and Nancy's blog page and wanted to check it out. It is so amazing that you are there in the Holy Land. Are you staying in the Jerusalem Center?