On Sunday Kathy and I were picked up by our driver and transferred to the Athens airport for our next adventure—in Israel. Our flight took less than two hours to reach Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. We had arranged to meet our son Eric there and would travel with him for the next 18 days. We got in about 1:30 and his flight arrived about 4:30, though it started a day earlier in Phoenix. It took him about 21 hours to reach Israel, including the layovers he had to endure. Eric is a great traveler and we so wanted to share this special time with him visiting the places associated with our faith, the places Jesus walked, and the travels of his apostles.
We stayed overnight in a small hotel right on the Mediterranean sea in Bat Yam, on the outskirts of Tel Aviv. The next morning we began our exploration by visiting the site of Old Jaffa, on the southern border of Tel Aviv. Old Jaffa is a delightful place to explore and is also a biblical site. It was here that Jonah caught a ship to Tarshish while running away from the Lord who wanted him to go preach in Nineveh. It was also the place that the Apostle Peter visited, as recorded in the ninth chapter of the Book of Acts, when he raised Dorcas from the dead. He stayed with a man called Simon “whose house is by the sea,” says the Bible. While in Joppa (its biblical name) Peter was resting on the roof of Simon’s house when he received a vision from the Lord showing a sheet being let down from heaven filled with all kinds of “unclean” animals. A voice told him “Rise Peter, kill and eat.” This happened three times and each time Peter replied, “Not so, Lord, I have never eaten anything unclean.” The voice then said, “What God has cleansed, call not unclean.” Peter wondered what this meant until he was later sent to speak to a Roman Centurion (an “unclean” gentile) who lived up the coast in Caesarea. We finally found the site of the house of Simon the Tanner in our exploration of Old Jaffa. Whether this place was the real one or not at least the Israelis acknowledge the biblical event and have carried on the Christian tradition about this place.
After walking all over the site of Old Jaffa (also called Yafo by the Israelis) in the heat and brilliant sun we sought out a restaurant in the old city. A young Israeli we had met the night before had told Eric about a restaurant in this old city that served Shakshuka, a middle eastern dish that is famous in Israel and the Middle East. We found the place and all three of us ordered a different version of the dish and were not disappointed—it’s delicious regardless of the ingredients (mine was Shawarma, Eric’s was spicy sausage and Kathy’s was chicken).
From Jaffa we were able to see the waves of the Mediterranean Sea rolling onto the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv and Eric just had to fulfill one of his goals—to swim in the Mediterranean at Tel Aviv. So we found our way to the beach so our son could fulfill that goal.
Tomorrow we plan to drive north up the coast to the ancient city of Caesarea, where the Apostle Paul was kept in prison awaiting his voyage to Rome to stand before the emperor. Then we will work our way northeast and arrive at Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. Somewhere in there we plan to visit an archaeological dig in process, since one of our friends who has been following our blog has made arrangements with people he knows who are in charge of the dig we plan to visit.
Bud & Kathy
Bud and Kathy Downs are making another trip to the Lands of the Bible-- first Turkey and Greece (from May 11 to 22) and then to Israel (from May 22 to June 8). We invite you to join us through our travel blog. We intend to post regular updates and pictures of Bible sites.