Tour Day 1: Caesarea, Mount Carmel, Megiddo or Armageddon, Tiberius
Friday, June 21, 2019
Stop 1: Caesarea
Our first stop of the tour was at Caesarea National Park. This is located 57.1 km (35.4 mi) north of Tel Aviv.
Harbor & Theater
Herod the Great developed this 40-acre harbor into superb magnificence providing space for 300 ships. The harbor was built using materials that would allow the concrete to harden underwater. Genius, right? He also constructed a theater with a seating capacity of 3,500. According to Josephus, this is where the death of Herod Agrippa occurred (see Acts 12).
Josephus called this a “most magnificent palace” that Herod the Great built on a promontory jutting out into the waters of Caesarea. The pool (as seen in below photos) is located in the center was nearly Olympic in size, and was filled with fresh water. A statue once stood in the center. Paul may have been imprisoned on the grounds of this palace (see Acts 23:35).
Evidence of Pontius Pilate and Aqueducts
To be able to have fresh water to drink at Herod’s new city required a complex aqueduct to pull in water from natural springs at the base of Mount Carmel (10 miles away!). In order that the water would flow by the pull of gravity, the aqueduct was built on arches and the gradient was carefully measured.
Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Acts 8:40 (NIV)
When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Acts 9:30 (NIV)
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.
Acts 10:1-2 (NIV)
Stop 2: Mount Carmel and Carmelite Monestry El-Muhraqa
After visiting the incredible harbor ruins, we traveled about 39 km (24 mi) northeast to Haifa, Israel, where the Carmelite Monastery was located.
This is the area of where Elijah contested the prophets of Baal with showing how great God is. The statue at the monastery (see photo below) reflects the Lord’s victory over the prophets of Baal. Shortly after fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, altar and even the water, Elijah had the prophets of Baal slaughtered at the Brook Kishon.
Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.
I Kings 18:19 (NIV)
Stop 3: Lunch and Meggido (Armageddon)
We then drove 26.4 km (16 mi) southeast to Meggido, Isreal (also known as Armageddon). The road was very curvy, winding throughout the foothills of Mount Carmel. On the way, Tito pointed out there were three old traditional tombs to the left right off the road (see below photo). We also saw lots of olive trees everywhere. Those are short with grey leaves. I want an olive tree in my backyard ?
Stop 4: Tel Megiddo National Park
After lunch of falafel balls (friend chickpeas) and salad, we headed to the Tel Megiddo National Park in Megiddo, Israel. There, we got to see the remains of a Canaanite city, Israeli city, and an underground water plant and subterranean tunnel.
Megiddo utilized different water systems over its history and in the 9th c. BC, Ahab constructed a massive system with a 30 meter deep shaft and a 70 meter long tunnel. This tunnel connected the bottom of Ahab’s shaft to the spring. Before its construction, Megiddo residents had to leave the city walls in order to get water from the spring.
Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the Lord’s temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer.
1 Kings 9:15 (NIV)
While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo. 30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.
2 Kings 23:29-30 (NIV)
Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.
Revelation 16:16 (NIV)
Arrival in Tiberius
After this amazing day of sights and sounds and tons of history (thanks Tito), we headed toward our next hotel in Tiberius, Israel, the Leonardo Plaza. This was a long 55.1 km (34 mi) drive so we all ended up falling asleep on the bus. I think even Tito, our tour guide, was exhausted, as we didn’t hear him talk as much.