Ruins from Caesarea.
Yesterday, our first stop was Caesarea. Naftali, our tour guide, gave us an overview of this ancient, formerly influential city. Baruch explained that the Christian importance and the Jewish importance of that city are quite different.
Christians remember Caesarea as the place where the Gospel began amongst the Gentiles and it is a place where you will see Christian tour groups singing and praising the L-rd.
For Jewish people, it is a place of great sadness. The Romans were wanting to find out where Bar Kokba, a very charismatic leader who was leading uprisings against them, was. They were aware that the very influential rabbi, Rabbi Akiva, knew where Bar Kokba was hiding. The Romans took Rabbi Akiva and tortured him, seeking to find out where Bar Kokba was. Rabbi Akiva did not reveal his location and so the Romans tortured him to death.
We then headed to Meggido. You may recognize the name Armageddon. It is also known as the Jezreel Valley or the Valley of Jehosephat. Many people were touched by this site, visualizing the the final battle and Messiah Yeshua coming to kill the enemies of Israel (from every nation), which will gather at this place to fight against them.
Baruch pointed out that the city of Nazareth is on a mountain right by this valley and that Yeshua very likely as a child looked out upon this area and thought about the final battle to come.
We then made our way to Bet Sha’arim. This is a very unique place. There are several caves filled with sarcophagi, which are a sort of stone coffin. The very famous and influential Jewish leader, Yehuda Ha Nasi was entombed there.
Baruch gave a lecture explaining the development of rabbinical Judaism and how pagan influences crept into the current religious practices. Concepts such as reincarnation and the zodiac are a couple of those. Many of the people were surprised to find out that Judaism is not simply missing Yeshua, but that it has strayed far away from other Biblical truth.
Our next stop was Meron, where there are ruins of an ancient Bet Midrash (House of Study) from the early 3rd century AD. Baruch spoke about judgement and also the significance of this location from a Hasidic point of view. He differentiated between Biblical truth and Hasidic folklore.
We then made our way to our lovely hotel, which was once a Turkish palace. After dinner, we took a walking tour of the Old City of Tzfat.
Night in the Old City of Tzfat.