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Israel day three

May 28, 2011

Bethlehem at the end of day two was difficult. As with many of the old city stops, the busyness of the place makes it difficult to sense the spirit. Bethlehem is a short drive from Jerusalem, but is controlled by Palestinians. We had no difficulty going through checkpoints. Once in Bethlehem we were escorted by a new guide, a Christian, because our regular guide is a Jew and cannot lead groups at the church of the nativity, which is built over the supposed site of the stable.
The church square is very familiar as the crowds from there are shown often at Christmas eve. Inside the church is not overly impressive, and like many sites consists of parts of churches constructed over time. There are three churches inside, Greek Orthodox, Armenian, and Roman. they take turns offering services during the day.
We were rushed into line to go underneath to see the stable as it was almost time for one of the Greek services nd they do not allow anyone underneath during that time. We followed closely an Italian tour group and once underneath, had ten seconds to gaze at the little cave where on one side it’s claimed Jesus was born and across the space he would have been laid down to sleep. The birth part has a star in the floor which we were allowed to touch, but being so rushed took any prayerful moment away. Upon ascending back to the church transept, there was a huge line of people who had now to wait for the Orthodox service to finish, so glad we got in even though is was rushed.
We then went back under to see what was probably more of the stable, then the room where St. Jerome translated the Vulgate Bible, an event of huge importance to Christianity. That was cool.
We left the church and did some souvenir shopping before returning to the hotel.
Today we started by driving the Jericho road, stopping for camel rides at the Inn of the Good Samaritan, but a rare rain shower interrupted. We drove on to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, Very fascinating archeological site. Along the way drove beside the dead sea for miles, its big!
Then we drove to Masada, Herod’s fortress. Amazing place.

Lastly we stopped go swim in the dead sea! What fun! You have to fight hard NOT to float, It
Very weird. But don’t get salt in your eyes, just ask Jennifer! It was fun.

We said goodbye to some who were leaving the tour after today, we made some new friends! Tomorrow we leave Jerusalem for Galilee, Nazareth, and other parts north.

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Categories: sabbatical
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