Visiting the Holy Land: North from Tel Aviv

July 7, 2011

 After our first night in a hotel in Tel Aviv, we left Saturday morning, March 5, heading north, along the coast.  Before leaving the Tel Aviv area, though, we went to ancient Joppa, now a suburb.  That’s where Jonah, running from the Lord, boarded the ship for Tarshish.  It also was where Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9) and had the vision that told him to eat previously un-kosher food (Acts 10).

As we drove up the coast, our guide said that, of the 5.5 million Jewish people inIsrael, 3.5 million of them live along or near the coast, from Tel Aviv north toHaifa.  That was a real surprise, since the population of Tel Aviv is only 450,000 andHaifais only 400,000.  That means there are a lot of people in between!

The great archaeological site we saw along the coast was Caesarea Maratima.  When I was there in 1974, I had seen the excavated theater, where you hear the waves of the Mediterranean crashing on the beach, yet the acoustics are so good that sometime can stand on the stage, speak in a normal voice and still be heard almost at the top of the rows of outdoor stone seats.  It was probably in that theater that King Herod Agrippa I was stricken and died in A.D. 44 (Acts 12).

But, what had not yet been dug up in 1974 is the rest of Caesarea that was on the seashore in the first century A.D.: the hippodrome (like a NACAR track for chariots); Herod the Great’s palace extending out over the sea; and numerous other buildings (including bathhouses with incredible mosaic tile floors), in one of which the Apostle Paul almost certainly was held (Acts 23-26).

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