Thursday, September 27, 2012

Joshua Fit the Battle...

...of Jericho! Jericho! Jerichoooooooo... Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came a-tumbling down!

Guess where we went for our fieldtrip this Monday? Hmmm, let's think...

Yep, even after our crazy trip and sleepless weekend, Monday was field trip day again. Fortunately it was only a half day, so it wasn't too long and we were able to get some things done in the afternoon as well. I was woken up at 3:40 in the morning by burning abdominal pain, such that I could barely walk to the bathroom sink for a cup of water. I took some omeprezol and sat awake for nearly half an hour, listening to the call to prayer (again) and praying that I would be able to sleep. The pain did go away and I was fine for the rest of the night. I didn't feel great the next morning--I've had off and on pain and nausea since then, actually--but I've seen much worse on the illness front, so I packed up my backpack and hauled off on the field trip. Needless to say, though, I was glad it was a half day only.

Jericho wasn't much to look at if you didn't know what you were seeing--but we did, so it was awesome. We saw Kathleen Kenyon's excavation trench, some stratification layers, and the remains of the oldest known structure in the world--an 11,000 year old watchtower. We saw the fallen remains of an ancient wall and discussed how this may be the walls of Jericho that were brought down by the Israelites. It's a good example of how your own beliefs or agendas can warp your perspective. Kathleen Kenyon (who was against Biblical interpretation of archaeology) excavated the wall and determined that because this was a Middle Bronze Age wall and the Israelite period was Late Bronze Age, the Israelite conquest as written in the Bible could not have happened because the city would not have had a wall at that time. An Israeli archaeologiest read her findings and retaliated with what I think was a very good point: assuming that the walls had been maitanenced and cared for, is it not possible that the Jericho of the Israelites was a Late Bronze city surrounded by a Middle Bronze wall? Of course it's possible--and there is evidence for this view. Late Bronze Age pottery has been found beneath the Middle Bronze wall--so either the Jericho Canaanites stuck some pottery up there while building a subway, as Dr. Stratford put it, or somebody had to have dropped a Late Bronze pot on that spot before the wall fell. Interesting, isn't it?

After that we visited a few other sites. We took pictures with a tree that was not the one Zacchaeus climbed in the New Testament but sure looked like it. We saw the waters of Elisha's spring--still sweet and still giving water to Jericho up until this very day. We stood on a hill and looked down at the remains of Herod's winter palace. Our talk there made the scriptures about him make so much more sense. We learned that because he was not a locally born or even remotely loved leader (as well as a few foreign attacks in the neigborhood) Herod became extremely paranoid about attack and assasination. This paranoia is evidenced by the fact that he had five different palaces (maybe more) to escape to in a pinch, such as Herodion and Masada, and also that he had a distrubing habit of killing friends and family who he thought might be a threat. Little wonder it is, then, that when the Magi show up asking "Where is he that is born king of the Jews?" Herod gets nervous. As far as Herod is concerned, he is the king of the Jews--so what is all this about a new one? You see what I mean--knowing more about Herod makes his actions make more sense to me.

We finished the field trip with a brief hike over a ridge overlooking a canyon, along the bottom of which runs the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. The parable of the Good Samaritan was set along that road, and several events and miracles--my personal favorite being the healing of the blind man Bartamaeus--happened there as well. The hike was very hot and very fast, and I nearly slid halfway down the hill on the lose rocks. I ended up towards the rear of the line pretty quickly, grumbling a little listening to Brother Judd shouting "Hurry up, Guppies!" from the front and Brother Stratford calling out "Left! Left! Left-right-a-left!" from the back. We made it though--and hurried home for lunch and homework. Fun, right?

I spent all Tuesday afternoon catching up on homework, including finishing a paper that isn't due until tomorrow morning. Victory!!! I even had time that evening to watched "Amazing Grace" with Katie and a few others (though most of the "others" had trickled off to bed by the time it was over). I finally got out into the city on Wednesday afternoon. A got a bigger size in the scripture case I wanted (my investment to encourage the preservation of my quad) and made a second visit to the Holy Seplechure. We also made a detour to the cistern under the chapel and sang there, which had a very cool echo effect and apparently could be heard in the chapel above.

I just want to mention that it is a great blessing sometimes to receive kindness from a stranger. When we were waiting in line to see the seplechure I went off to sit down a moment because I was not feeling well then. I was also stressing about things that were very important to me yesterday but really aren't now--but the end result was that I was a little upset and may or may not have been trying not to cry (she shamefully confesses). I walked around a little to clear my head. There is a small alcove around the back of the seplechure that has a paiting of Mary and the baby Jesus in it, as well as a beautifully draped altar and candles. I stood outside looking at the painting, still not feeling myself and tearing up a little. There was a priest standing watch in the mini-chapel who saw me watching. He beckoned me inside with a kind smile. I came, and he asked me if I was Russian (not sure why--maybe to see if I was with one of the massive tour groups miling around), to which I replied that I was English. He apparently didn't speak much English, but he looked at me kindly, then bent down and lifted one of the draperies to show reveal a small square of the stones of the Holy Seplechure that most people where going to see from the front on the other side. I bent down and touched the secret stones, then rose, thanked the priest, and quietly stepped out to make way for some people who were waiting outside. The prist probably thought I was another worshiper there, maybe crying because I was remembering the Savior's death and sacrifice--or maybe he just wanted to cheer me. I don't know. Whatever the case I was so grateful to him for noticing that one sightseer of the many hundreds there that day was a little sad and took the time to show me kindness and to give me a beautiful gift--a quiet moment with the Seplechure. It was a sweet and quiet instance of Christian charity at its best--showing love and kindness not just for those you know and love, but also for a stranger.

Sorry--that was a little long winded. My apologies.

I will write more tomorrow about today--including my second week at Red Cresent and the Passover sedar we enjoyed tonight. For now, though, it is late and I am very much not done with my homework--so I must away. I love you all!


  1. We got a kick out of your story of tumbling down the hill with your teacher shouting, hurry up guppies! What an amazing experience to see an 11,000 year old tower and the walls of Jericho!! We just read your blog as a family.
    We love you! The family :)

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  3. I am glad that someone is looking out for my cousin. I sure do love and miss you and i really wish i could give you a big hug right now!
    Love, Mio