(Above Netanya beach and the Mediterranean sea)

1st June 2004 9 AM ( Local Time ) 7 Am BST Galilee Region
We are on the bus preparing to go to Nazareth. DJ and I waited outside for 10 minutes, but were forced to retreat back into the hotel with the heat of the sun, at 9 in the morning! It is going to be fierce today. We are based in the coastal city of Netanya, a fairly modern city with spectacular views and beaches on the Mediterranean.  we are staying in the Carmel hotel on the sea-coast a fine modern hotel building which is at this time of year very quiet. We are a bit taken aback to see an armed guard at the front door. We are all scanned with a metal detector on our way into the building for security purposes. It is disconcerting but at the same time reassuring to see a guard with an automatic pistol at the front door, but it does show us also the precautions that have to be taken.  The second Palestinian intifada started in 2000 with Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount and since then increased security has been a feature of daily life here.
I had a most unusual  breakfast this morning! A mixture of cucumber, chopped tomatoes, what looked like potato salad, stirred yoghurt and pickled Mackerel. Most unusual eating it at this time of day.I saw on Sky news last night that the weather in the UK is bad, EXCELLENT! as all tourists say.

10.40 Am local time ( 8.40 Am BST) . Our first stop is Caesarea on the coast to the North of Netanya.

Acts 10:1-2 (ESV) 1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, 2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. 

The ruins of the Roman Aqueduct at Caesarea 


Just finished surveying the magnificent ruins of Caesarea, on the Mediterranean coast . Caesarea was the capital of the Roman province of Judea, in Biblical times. We took our seats in the wonderfully preserved Roman Amphitheater while Glynn read passages from the book of Acts that put Caesarea into context for us, eg Acts 9 and Acts 17. The day is hot but being beside the Mediterranean keeps things cool. After our morning devotions we explored the ruins of Caesarea.
Caesarea is now being rebuilt as a very upmarket community. And nearby a new town populated mostly by American Jewish millionaires is rising. Average house price here = $6 million.

Donald John Smith and Calumina Graham at the Roman Amphitheatre Caesarea 

12.40 Local time Cana Galilee
Just back to bus after stopping briefly at Cana of Galilee. went to see the Greek orthodox church here which is purported to be the site of the first miracle , the turning of water into wine ( John 2) . A man demonstrates in a practical way the miracle, with a less than miraculous thing that looked like a tea-pot from which wine subsequently flowed into small thimble like glasses which we were invited to taste, truly ghastly wine! ( In stark contrast to John 2:10)
The church is ornate and full of icons , and to an even greater degree than RC churches contrary to my reformed way of thinking. The rood screen hides the altar from worshippers who cannot really be called worshippers or even participants, they aren’t even observers they are totally irrelevant to what goes on. Only the solemn chanting of the priests a monotonous drone that does little to uplift the spirit.

Nazareth is where we head next.

 “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”John 1:45-46 (ESV ) 

Leaving a Kibbutz where we stopped for lunch. This particular kibbutz ( a communal farm), is notorious in Israel as the only place in Israel that rears, sells and serves pork. They get round Israeli Law which completely forbids the rearing of pigs on the soil of Israel ( by Jews at any rate), by having the pigs live on raised platforms above the ground ! becoming legalistic and literalistic to defeat legalism!

Donald John at a Kibbutz near Nazareth
The Lewis gang after lunch at a Kibbutz near Nazareth ( Sun glasses were a necessity not a luxury)
Peggy Graham, their cousin Joan Smith, Donald John Smith, Calumina Graham  near Nazareth.

The day remains sunny ( as opposed to simply hot). Apparently the weather back home in Lewis yesterday was glorious. Whilst traveling through the lush sprawling valley of Jezreel one could but marvel at the Lord’s bounty to this country, bananas grow in great abundance.  water melons, vineyards, olives, citrus groves, lemons, grapefruit, avocados, figs, date palms and much more.

In observing a water melon field , Peggy observed ” nach eagalach cho mòr sa tha an càl sinn?” DJ remarks later ” Tha mi creids gun e buntata a tha aca sinn”

13.36 local Time 11.36 BST
Wer are just leaving a vantage point from which we could see the Village of Nain and Mount Tabor . Mount Tabor is the location of the victory of the judges Deborah and Barak over the forces of Sisera general of Canaanites ( Judges 4)

Nazareth is a city built on a hill Matt 5 ” a city built on a hill cannot be hidden.. Passed Nain – ( the raising of a widow’s son by Jesus) which is in the shadow of Mount Moreh site of Gideon’s defeat of Midian ( at the Spring of Harod Judges 7) .

4.10 local time 2.10 BST Nazareth

Donald John Smith and myself  near Nazareth

Sitting on bus with DJ , waiting for off. We are in Nazareth, a high climb to get into the city from the plain down below. A further climb up the hill on foot to get to the church of St Joseph Nazareth, and the Catholic Basilica built on the site of what is purported to be the house of Mary.
Moshe gave us a detailed description of the history , archeology and theology associated with each site . In the supposed site of Joseph’s house , Glynn read scripture.

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. Luke 4:16 ESV)

From then on we had to climb a steep hill through an Arab bazaar, much less pestering here, although we did see some pathetic beggars. DJ is very slow, and is hampered by his bad leg, we begin to fall behind the rest of the party as we make our way through the bazaar, an it is with some relief we find they have waited for us at the top.. At the top is the old Synagogue of Nazareth. A tiny place , Glynn read verses from Luke 4 “ Today this scripture ( Isaiah 61) is fulfilled in your hearing”.

Nazareth was nothing like I had imagined it to be, still it was good to be there.