Revisiting Israel - Day Two (Part Two)
Mt. Carmel gives a great view of the Valley of Megiddo, where the future battle of Armageddon will take place. From there you can see Caesarea and Mt. Tabor and Nazareth among others. I started getting the names of the mountains confused as to which one was which. (This garden was on Mt. Carmel.) Mt. Carmel is much bigger than I pictured when I read I Kings 18, where Elijah put the prophets of Baal to shame. Our guide had some interesting things to say about this incident that I hadn’t considered before. He reminded us that Mt. Carmel was a high place (higher elevation geographically), which was home to idol worship. False prophets chose high places for their activities because it kept them at a distance from the people so the people couldn’t see their trickery up close, much like a magician won’t perform magic too close to his audience. The prophets of Baal were familiar with this setting, putting Elijah at a disadvantage. He was the opposing team playing on their turf. But Elijah knew that God would give him the advantage over these tricksters.
The prophets of Baal were trying to force their god to do their bidding, as all idol worship does. But as our Jewish guide pointed out, God is to be obeyed, not used. And on Mt. Carmel one can picture God, through Elijah, proving that very thing to these false prophets.
Megiddo was our next stop where we could still see the Valley of Armageddon, along with Mt. Gilboa where King Saul and his son Jonathan were killed by the Philistines, making it possible for David to become king of Israel. I would have loved to spend time on that mountain and wished it was one of our stops, but I had to settle for long distance pictures. It is interesting how close together the mountains seem to each other as you drive through the valley or ascend one of the peaks. Israel really isn’t all that big, which is pretty amazing considering how much history is in that place.
At Megiddo we saw the ruins of two city gates, one older and smaller and one built by Solomon. Archaeologists have also uncovered what looked like storehouses from Solomon’s time, though at first they thought the buildings were stables for Solomon’s horses. More likely they were storehouses for collecting the taxes that Solomon levied to run his expansive government. Some reasons for this line of thought are: the buildings were too small to house many horses and the supposed feeding troughs were all uniform, as though they were used for measurement.
The guide also thought that the people would not have kept horses in the city but would have built stables outside the city because if they were attacked they wouldn’t want to share their resources with the animals. However, I Kings 10:26 says, “Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem.” So apparently, they did keep horses in the cities. (However, I do agree that this building seems too small for a stable.)
Last stop at Megiddo was the cistern. Israel is a relatively barren land with few water sources so collecting water was important. We walked down 183 steps and through a tunnel carved out of stone to see the cistern, then back up 81 steps. (I wasn’t counting but our guide did.) He also seemed quite fascinated with water systems and pointed them out wherever we went. By this time things were starting to blur in my head. A lot of walking combined with jet lag, made trying to absorb all of the information a bit tough.
From there we drove to Tiberias where we spent two nights. We drove through Nazareth, but I couldn’t stay awake to appreciate the view. Tomorrow, first stop Korazin (Chorazin), the town Jesus condemned for not believing in Him.