The good news is I slept fitfully on the plane to Tel-Aviv. The bad news is I woke even before the 4:00AM call to prayer. But a nap this afternoon gets me back on track and after an enjoyable dinner conversation, I feel I am adjusted to the time and can make the 6:30AM luggage call for Saturday. Traveling is work.
Traveling is also exposure to places and events in history that maybe we had not thought of too extensively. Today we visited Herodian, the ruins from HerodThe Great’s empire. Now, really the only time i ever think about Herod is when he set out to kill all Jewish babies under two for fear of his own position. But Herod was instrumential in building and developing a vast portion of this spot in the world before his death.
Did you know he moved mountains to create a palacial residence for himself just outside of Bethlehem? From a distance it looks like Stone Mountain in Georgia, but this one was made by slave labor with gardens and aquaducts and theaters and road. Highly sophisticated for his time. Just look at the photo. Impressive.
The shepherds really do lead a hard life. Grazing on nearly vertical hillsides with not much grass in mostly blazing heat is not only low pay, but lonesome and challenging. The 23rd Psalm takes on whole new meaning:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me to like down in green pastures.
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name.
/even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
Thy rod and staff comforts me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Now this picture which I did not take looks pastoral and I wish I could have found a realistic one. What it all says to me is I can be in the utmost of danger but I have a shepherd who tends to me and cares of me.
The day continued with visits to Shepherd’s Field and the Church of the Holy Sepulcure.
A long and rewarding day. Tomorrow we leave fore Caesarea.
Good night from Bethlehem.