Revisiting Israel - Day Three (Part One)
“Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you.” Luke 10:13-14 Korazim (Biblical Korazin or Chorazin) was once a bustling neighborhood in Jesus’ day. Our guide pointed out that in those days a neighborhood was not like neighborhoods as we know them. Back then neighborhoods were a number of small homes around an open court. If your neighbor coughed or sneezed in his house, the house two doors down heard him. Neighbors knew each other intimately, working side by side, caring for one another through good times and bad. A disagreement or dispute could disrupt the whole town and it would have been hard to ignore a person who lived so close by. In contrast, we often only know a handful of people in our neighborhoods, maybe the family on either side of us or across the street, but we rarely know them in such an intimate way.
These pictures show Korazim as it is today, no longer the bustling community it once was. The basalt stones are a dark, gloomy gray, and I couldn’t help but think how much the stones reflected the depressing outcome of this place. Would their walls still stand if the people had believed Jesus’ miracles, as He said? One can only wonder if these ruins are not the direct result of His curse. Their synagogue was like many other synagogues of the day, a place where people met not only to hear the reading of the Scriptures but for teaching and other social gatherings. In this one, like others, there is a stone bench (seen here where Randy is sitting) known as Moses’ seat. Jesus talked about Moses’ seat in Matthew 23~
“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach…Everything they do is done for men to see…”
And Jesus condemned them for it and told his disciples they should not act that way, but rather, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” From there we went to the Mount of Beatitudes where they think Jesus sat when he gave the Sermon on the Mount. A church now marks the spot, as is true of so many significant places in Israel. Shrines have arisen in just about every spot where Jesus did something worth remembering. (This photo is taken from the church looking out at the Sea of Galilee.)
The biggest such monument was on Golgotha where they think Jesus was crucified where the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sits today. That one bothered me the most as it pretty much obliterated any chance at seeing Golgotha (Calvary) as it might have been. What is it about human nature that makes us want to immortalize everything on this earth? Must a church stand on every significant Scriptural landmark? Honestly, though I love the land of Israel and truly enjoyed this trip, this penchant for creating shrines everywhere was rather annoying. I would have much preferred to see the beauty of the creation as Jesus saw it than the shrine ensconcing it.
Of course there is still plenty of open land and much of it still exists as it did thousands of years ago. Visitors can still envision the way things might have been most of the time, especially on the hills and in the open spaces.
We visited another church after that (not surprising!) created to honor the area where Jesus fed the five thousand the loaves and fishes. (This fourth picture is of the interior - called The Church of the Multiplication of Bread.) There was an olive press there as seen here. (Picture five.) Olives would be put in the circular area and the stone rolled over them squeezing the oil from them, turning them to pulp. This press was much like the olive presses that would have been close to the Garden of Gethsemane – Gethsemane means olive press and the garden there is an olive grove. A rather fitting metaphor for what Jesus suffered there.
Our next stop was a visit to the shores of the Sea of Galilee, but I’ll save that for tomorrow. This is a view of the sea or lake (also known as Lake Gennesaret) from our hotel room. This lake isn’t all that big compared to the Great Lakes in Michigan, but it can be quite unpredictable. Storms can kick up unexpectedly, and in fact, we saw a difference in the water’s surface from one day to the next. But I’ll save all that for another day.