Revisiting Israel – Day Two (Part one)

Ampitheater3
Ampitheater3

Gas was $7 a gallon in Israel in 2008, over double what is it here today. (I have not checked to see what price they are paying now.) That may explain why most people drive compact cars there. I can’t imagine what it costs to run those tour buses, which are everywhere. Tourism is the livelihood of many in Israel. We passed the Valley of Sharon, once known for the biblical Rose of Sharon, which is actually a lily. Our guide suggested that the rose we know today should be called a lily and the lily a rose. Apparently the Rose of Sharon looks and smells very nice and used to be used to make perfume but is now in danger of extinction because it was over cultivated and not protected. Unfortunately, we did not get to see one to take a picture.

Ruins of Palace of Herod the Great
Ruins of Palace of Herod the Great

Our first stop from Tel Aviv was Caesarea where the apostle Peter had the vision in Acts 10 of the unclean animals and God showed him that he should not call any man impure or unclean. The Roman Centurion Cornelius lived there. We stopped to see the ruins of an amphitheater (first picture), Herod’s Palace (second picture), and the Roman Hippodrome (third picture) on the Mediterranean Sea where chariot races were held and where Herod built a winter port and palatial dwelling. The apostle Paul was likely familiar with this place as well.

Hippodrome5-1
Hippodrome5-1

In ancient days they went to port in winter because they didn’t know how to turn the sails to accommodate the wind. Herod’s palace jutted into the Mediterranean and time has worn the residential area down, but you can still see where a large swimming pool once stood in the midst of the rooms where Herod lived with his family. It takes just a bit of imagination to “see” the palace as it might have been in its hey day.

The Hippodrome is large with stone seats set in an oval – an open theater with room enough in the center for the chariot races. Tire tracks and foot prints fill the sand now, but it is easy to imagine the excitement of such times. One can almost hear the crowds cheering.

More mosaic tile at Hippodrome 

More mosaic tile at Hippodrome 

Among the seating area was the ruins of another home – or some type of fancy rooms. Randy and I climbed the steps and found mosaic tile floors – one so intact (two were nearly connected like a long hallway) that it looked like a carpet. (Fourth picture) Rows of red hearts with blue and white trim looked modern, if not for the obvious ruin that comes with age.

We drove from Caesarea to Mt. Carmel (pronounced in Hebrew with the emphasis on the second syllable, not the first as we pronounce it in the Western world.) But I’ll leave that for tomorrow… Shalom~