This is the post I prepared this morning while I did not have internet.
I am sitting here on a picnic bench, listening to crickets chirping high atop a mountain overlooking the Dead Sea. We are staying in Metzoke Dragot, a compound of tents. I can’t see stars due to the lights, but right now it’s very peaceful (except for the mosquitos buzzing around. But they are not immune to Deep Woods Off as those of the Everglades ilk!)
Yesterday, Maria and I explored the Tel of Be’er Sheva. Before we ever entered the tel, we stood there in awe that this was the beginning of everything. Why do I say that? This was the place where Abraham made an oath with …… This is the place Isaac was born. This is the place Sarah died. This is the place Isaac took his wife, Rebeka. This is the place the twins were born. But more importantly, this is the place where God spoke to them. Because this was, I prayed that God would show us his glory.
As we were reading scriptures, I had an epiphany. You might not think it so special, but it was as if God spoke to me. In Genesis, God told Jacob that it was okay to go down to Egypt, that it was there he would make him a great nation. As Maria read this, two thoughts came instantaneously:
1- Was God being decietful? They suffered a lot in Egypt for a very long time.
2- It was the centuries of suffering that made them great.
This blew my mind. You see, I am Sicilian. Many people immediately think of the Mafia when they think of Sicilians. Sicilians think ‘la familia’ (the family). Sicily is an island situated in a strategic spot in the Mediteranean. Because of this, many peoples conquered it. This caused the families to band together to protect their women and children. What it eventually became was not a good thing, but it’s beginnings were for the protection and preservation of family. The outside influences banded the Sicilians together, making strong bonds.
So too, the Israelites. They were under terrible persecution for a long time. This created a strong family bond. As they grew, it became a national bond. Throughout the diaspora, they continued to remember Jerusalem, and though not all did, many were faithful to the God of their fathers.
Throughout the milennia, though few in number, they have a strong sense of who they are and what their relationship is with God. They are a strong nation. What an amazing people. What an amazing God. What an amazing revelation!
All this and we were still at the welcome area!
As we approached the outer gate of the city, there was the well. Archeologists believe this was the well of oath, the well Abraham dug and made an oath with Abimilech. We spent quite some time at that well, dwelling on Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, their wives, and what life might have been like. As we entered the first gate, it started to rain, so we exited to a small sitting area with a roof. There we read the history of the site, and talked more about the importance of the particular spot in the economy of the area. I guess God was not finished teaching us what we needed to learn before entering the site.
When the rain stopped, we entered the city. The first thing we saw was the two huge towers at the main gate. There were benches inside one room where the judges would sit and solve issues. The scriptures were truly coming alive.
One thing I should note, the brochure of the place says it should take about an hour to see the site. I guess they don’t know Maria and I. God truly put us together for this trip. We have the same passionate interest in history, archeology, and all things spiritual. We both laughed at the thought of only spending an hour here. (We spent 2 1/2 hours there!)
The findings in the tel date back 4000 bce. The bulk of which is during the Israelite period. The city was built with a double wall, in a circle. The houses are built into the circle. There is a modern observation tower in the center of the city so you can view it in its entirety, along with the surrounding area. We thought about when Abraham left with Isaac to head to Mt Moriah (modern day Jerusalem), the hard climb through the mountains; about Sarah left at home wondering what would happen; about how she may not have lived to see Isaacs return.
In the center of the city, above the ruins, the Romans built a fortress. Some of the rooms are left, and two of these have some flooring visible. I had to stand on that floor. Why? Because here we were 2,000 years later, and the Romans were gone, but the people of Israel live!
God showed me his glory!