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Curious what backpackers do in Palestine? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • Today we walked back into the Old City via Zion Gate. We went to the Broad Wall (an ancient remnant of the wall around Hezekiah's Jerusalem). Then we made our way through the security checkpoint to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall). From there we made our way down to the City of David and the incredible Hezekiah's Tunnel.

    In Florence, over a decade ago, I begrudgingly paid the fee to walk into the museum that housed Michelangelo's David. As I viewed the statue from my low perch below, I was overwhelmed at the sight of it. On that day, I was not expecting to be moved. Today as I walked toward the Wailing Wall, that same feeling came flooding back over me. My throat tightened and tears started to well up in the corner of my eyes as I neared the wall. I struggled to find a small spot between worshipers and tuck my hastily written prayer into any available crack.

    The Wailing Wall is part of the retaining wall that held up the foundation for the second temple. It is the last remaining portion of the structure and is currently the closest thing that the Jews have to their ancient temple which housed the very presence of God. For this reason it is a place that is so important to Jewish worship. There is a sign leading up to the place where the Temple used to be (now where the Dome of the Rock is located) that says that no Jew should enter the place above because they may inadvertently enter the Holy of Holies and be struck dead.

    Standing at the Wailing Wall today, I laid my hands on the smooth stone, worn by millions of hands and lips that have rubbed the roughness away. I allowed the profundity of the moment to sink in and found my way to Hebrews 10:11-14 and the words leapt off the page into my heart.

    "And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."

    I prayed for the people around me who were rocking back and forth and crying, and as I backed away from the wall, they continued to offer their powerless sacrifices.
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  • Some members of our team floating in the crazy water of the Dead Sea. It really is quite an experience, including the mandatory mud bath. But you don't want to get that stuff in your mouth. Oh, and don't splash your friends because they'll get mad at you when it feels like their eyes are on fire.

  • Our travels yesterday included a stop at Mt. Scopus and a good look at a first century tomb as Jesus would have been buried in. We took long, winding walk down the Mount of Olives. With thousands of other tourists and pilgrims, vendors and swindlers (not to mention “Jerusalem Taxi” camels), we stopped at the holy sites on the hill including the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane (Church of the Nations), and the church where Jesus wept over Jerusalem. We then headed south from Jerusalem to the egotistical Herodium. We spent the afternoon at the traditional site of the Shepherds Field and then on to Bethlehem to finish the day.

    There were so many lessons wrapped up in our travels today. Seeing the Old City of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives broke down many pre-conceived ideas I had about the city; the most prominent of which is that Jerusalem isn't really on a hill. More like down in a ditch. I was always taught that it was a “city on a hill...” which is true if you’re coming to Jerusalem from fifty miles out. It is a truth for travelers.

    But once you get here, Jerusalem is down in a valley with mountains rising on almost every side. It’s not the lowest thing around, but it comes close. The entire two mile long ridge of Mount of Olives looks down on the city. It begs the question why David chose this spot for the capital city and eventually the Holy Temple of God. It seems to many who visit that the lower elevation would compromise the perception of divine credibility. “What kind of god lives in a hole?”

    I read Isaiah 2:2. “It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills.” And I am reminded once again that God’s got a plan, and once again, it’s the very thing we don’t expect.

    I am learning that place participates with struggle. Let me explain that. As Jesus agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane over his impending death (which included not just extreme physical pain, but an encounter with the full-on wrath of God), the Judean Wilderness was right there. Within a half-day walk, Jesus could flee His purpose and be lost in the crags and canyons of the wild just to the East of the garden. From the Mount of Olives, Jesus could see a way out. This moment might be the closest we come to losing our salvation. He is on the cusp of walking away.

    We learned (an advantage to walking this land) that often in the Bible when someone walks to the east, bad things happen. Adam and Eve are cast to the East, the Tower of Babel is to the East, David flees to the East…

    So that night, even though he seemed ready to walk east, Jesus went west to Jerusalem and the cross.

    Standing in the olive trees, I could feel a tiny corner of His temptation to flee. It worried me and made me glad the fate of the world was not resting on these broken shoulders.
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  • Tozer taught that the teachings of Jesus were so deeply disturbing to the "natural mind" because it takes from sinful men, the power of self-determination. "It cuts the ground out from under their self-help and throws them back upon the sovereign good pleasure of God-and that is precisely where they do not want to be." I'm sitting here right outside of the old wall looking out over the city. This is said to be the site of the new Mt. Zion. I have to wait to get started to figure out exactly what that means, but suffice it to say everything just seems so normal. Cars honking, chain smokers, brakes squealing. Nothing "supernatural" here. Just a regular old city.

    Yet here I am in the place where the unnatural became natural. And I can see how easily that would get lost in puffs of exhaust from tired out old cars.
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  • Yesterday, we visited the Israel Museum and studied for our exam. As we wandered through the day, I was struck by a continued though I wanted to share. This whole idea of layering Bible stories, one on top of the other, onto a particular place has been such a revolutionary way of thinking about Scripture. I know I’ve talked about how this works before, but in case you haven’t read any of that, the basic idea is that each place carries with it stories from the history of Israel.

    In America, our history only goes back a few hundred years, so it’s harder to relate to this, but imagine the grassy-green field that Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address. Now jump ahead four hundred years into the future, and this is also becomes the exact site where we regain our independence from some imagined occupation. Six hundred years after that, it becomes the place where a great battle is fought and thousands of faithful Christians lose their lives.

    Now, let’s take a little class of cute 6th graders to that very field and we’ll tell them about the world-changing events that happened on the soil under their sneakers. Can you start to understand what it means to layer events onto a place? To read the Bible “like a walker?” Pile up Biblical event upon Biblical event and then walk the land and see if there isn’t some connection.

    For example, we visited the city of Shechem. Not much to look at in the photos below, but this is the location of Jacob’s well. But, before I get to that, back in Genesis 12:1-7, this is where Abram built an altar to the Lord and God told him, “To your offspring, I will give this land.” This land. Where we stood. In Shechem. Then jump to Deuteronomy 27 and God is telling Moses to write the words of the law on stones and then, here at Shechem, Moses is to build an altar of stones and offer burnt offerings to God. Jump ahead yet again to Joshua 8 when Joshua renews the covenant with God and, just as Moses had done before him, he writes the words of the law on stones here at Shechem.

    That’s all very interesting, but then the next time we see this place, something much more sinister happens. In fact, the previous stories are stories of hope. Stories of forgiveness. But in 1 Kings 12 Rehoboam is made king on this very spot at Shechem and because of the oppression that he institutes, the Kingdom of Israel is split in two.

    Such a devastating and cataclysmic event happens on the very spot that God gives to Abram. The very spot that Moses and Joshua wrote the law of God out on stones. It seems like a dismal end to this sad little spot.

    But the story of Shechem isn’t over.

    Because this is also the site of John 4:4 when, by Divine guidance, Jesus is led to this very spot to have a conversation with a less-than-faithful woman from Samaria. Here, on the hard soil of Shechem, He speaks of the life-giving water he can provide to a thirsty woman. And then, for the first time we know of, Jesus publicly and clearly proclaims that He is the Messiah. “I who speak to you am He.” Here on this spot.

    Because on this spot, God is playing out the story of humanity. It is a story of faithfulness and infidelity. It is a story of remembering the laws of God and a story of forgetting the fear of God. It is the story of humanity’s up and down relationship with the Sovereign God.

    And this spot carries the story of Jesus who ultimately comes and fixes the mistakes. Of course He would do it here. The place is loaded.
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  • Read above, but I GPS'ed this spot with this footprint just to remember where we were.

    This is our professor Dr. John A. Beck. Kindred spirits in many ways, especially in our love for the wilderness and the Word of God. He's just a lot smarter than I am. :)

  • Pagan worship: Pan, Ashera, etc. Several temples in this area. This is also the area where Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say that I am?" When you're standing right here, you understand that saying you're the Messiah has significance in a place like this.

    That large cave in the photos was also believed to be the gate to the underworld. Near this place Jesus said to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."Read more

  • Happy Birthday, Kadda


    Der siebte und somit vorletzte Tag unserer Reise begann für uns mit der Busfahrt in das 20 km entfernte Bethlehem. Heute konnte uns Giddi aus Sicherheitsgründen nicht begleiten, da die Stadt im palestinensischen Autonomiegebiet liegt. Nach der Fahrt durch die Trennungsmauer führte uns ein arabischer Einheimischer namens Kamal zur Nativity Church bzw. Geburtskirche. In der ältesten Kirche des Heiligen Landes werden täglich sechs Gottestdienste gefeiert - jeweils zwei der katholischen, griechisch-orthodoxen und armenisch-orthodoxen Konfession. Aufgrund eines gerade zelibrierten Gottesdienstes am angeblichen Geburtsort Jesu konnten wir an diesem Ort nur einen kurzen Blick erhaschen.

    Anschließend liefen wir über den sehr lebendig wirkenden Basaar zu unserer Partnerschule " Ecole Des Freres " , wo wir von Lehrern und Gastschülern sehr herzlich empfangen und durch das Schulgebäude geführt wurden.

    Anders als an deutschen Schulen konnten wir hier Kinder und Jugendliche aus dem Kindergarten bis zur zwölften Klasse antreffen. Nach einem traditionellen arbaischen Frühstück mit Falafel und Hummus machten wir uns mit den Gastschülern auf den Weg zu den Hirtenfeldern. Dieser heilige Ort wird von katholischen, evangelischen und griechisch-orthodoxen Christen geteilt.

    Nach einem kurzen Abstecher in den christlichen Basaar führte uns die Tour weiter zu einem Heimatsmuseum, welches uns die palestinensische Identität und Kultur näherbrachte.

    Wenige Schritte davon entfernt besichtigten wir ein neu entstandenes internationales Kongresszentrum, welches jedoch größtenteils leerstand. Auf der anderen Straßenseite besuchten wir anschließend die sogenannten "Solomon Pools", welche in der Römerzeit für die Wasserversorgung bis nach Jerusalem nützlich waren. Heute gelten die unter der islamischen Herrschaft ausgeschmückten Anlagen als Tourristenattraktion.

    Zurück an der Schule teilten wir uns in Kleingruppen auf die Gastfamilien auf, um einen besseren Eindruck in das Leben einer palestinensischen Familie zu bekommen. Nach einem ausgiebigen, traditionellen Essen und großer Gastfreundschaft trafen wir uns alle für eine weitere Mahlzeit in einem Restaurant und gingen gegen Abend gemeinsam zurück zur Schule.

    Dort erwartete uns das von der Schule vorbereitete Abendessen, welches wir mit musikalischer Begleitung der Schüler sehr genossen. Nach einer beidseitig herzlichen Verabschiedung verließen wir sehr gesättigt die Stadt Bethlehem.

    Unser treuer und sehr geschätzter Busfahrer Anan brachte uns wie immer sicher zurück zu unserer Unterkunft in Jerusalem.

    Viele liebe Grüße aus dem Heiligen Land!

    von Tabea, Franzi und Eva
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  • Nach einer kurzen Verschnaufpause machen wir uns auf, noch heute Abend eines der größten Heiligtümer der Christenheit zu besuchen: die Grabeskirche!

    Die Grabeskirche überdeckt den Hügel Golgatha und das Grab Jesu. Vor der eigentlichen Grabkapelle wartet eine mindestens 2h-lange Schlange auf Einlass, so dass wir keine Chance haben, das Allerheiligste zu sehen.

    Die Kreuzigungskapelle zeigt noch ein Stück Fels, auf dem seinerzeit das Kreuz gestanden haben soll.

    Sämtliche christlichen Glaubensrichtungen konkurrieren in der Grabeskirche um den besten Platz, um die Zeiten für den Gottesdienst usw. Der christliche Gedanke scheint hier an diesem heiligen Ort unendlich fern zu sein.
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  • Jerusalem - schon der Name klingt magisch - die Wiege aller großen Weltreligionen, und wir mittendrin auf dem Weg die Stadt zu erkunden.

    Während wir geduldig in der Schlange für Nichtmuslime zum Tempelberg stehen, erhaschen wir einen ersten Blick auf die Kuppel der Al-Aqsa-Moschee und auf die Klagemauer, die auch jetzt schon am frühen Morgen von vielen Gläubigen gut besucht ist.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Palestine, Palästinensische Autonomiegebiete, Palestina, Palestaen West Bank ne Gaza, የፍልስጤም ግዛት, فلسطين, Fələstin Bölqüsü, Палестынскія тэрыторыі, Палестински територии, Palesitini, ফিলিস্তিন অঞ্চল, Tiriadoù Palestina, Palestinska Teritorija, Palestinská území, Tiriogaeth Palesteina, De palæstinensiske områder, པེ་ལིསི་ཊི་ནིཡ ན་ཊེ་རི་ངོ་རི, Palestinia nutome, Παλαιστινιακά Εδάφη, Territorios Palestinos, Palestiina ala, سرزمین‌های فلسطینی, Palestiin Sisjordani e Gaasaa, Palestiina, Palestinskt territorium, Territoire palestinien, Na Críocha Pailistíneacha, પેલેસ્ટિનિયન ટેરિટરી, Palasɗinu, השטחים הפלסטיניים, फ़िलिस्तीन, Palestinsko Područje, Palesztin Terület, Otoritas Palestina, Palestína, パレスチナ, პალესტინის ტერიტორია, Ukingo wa Magharibi na Ukanda wa Gaza wa Palestina, ប៉ាលេស្ទីន, ಪ್ಯಾಲಿಸ್ಟೇನಿಯನ್ ಪ್ರದೇಶ, 팔레스타인 지구, فەلەستین, Palesitayini, Palɛsine, Palestinos teritorija, Palesine, Palestīna, പാലസ്തീന്‍ പ്രദേശങ്ങള്‍, पॅलेस्टिनी प्रदेश, Palestinian Territory, ပါလက်စတိုင်း ပိုင်နက်, Palestinsk territorium, Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, प्यालेस्टनी भू-भाग, Palestijnse gebieden, ପାଲେସ୍ତେନିଆ, Terytoria Palestyńskie, فلسطین, Territórios palestinos, Territori Palestinais, Palesitina Wesitibanka na Gaza, Teritoriul Palestinian, Палестинские территории, Sêse tî Palestîni, පලස්තීනය, Palestínske územie, Palestinsko ozemlje, Falastiin Daanka galbeed iyo Qasa, Палестинске територије, Palestinska territoriet, பாலஸ்தீனியன் மாஹாணங்கள், పాలిస్తినియాన్ ప్రాంతం, ปาเลสไตน์, Potu Palesitaine, Filistin Bölgesi, Палестина, فلسطینی خطے, Lãnh thổ Palestine, Orílẹ́ède Iwọorun Pakisitian ati Gaṣa, 巴勒斯坦领土, i-Palestinian Territories