April 28 – Galilee

Another day in beautiful Galilee, and 7th day of touring! We visited Caesarea Philippi (at the base of Mt. Hermon where Jesus asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?”), Tel Dan (“Arch of Abraham”), and a Sandal factory.

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Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi was an ancient Roman city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon. The city is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew and Mark. The city was located within the region known as the “Panion” (the region of the Greek god Pan). It was named after the deity associated with the grotto and shrines close to the spring called “Paneas”. Today, the city, now no longer inhabited, is an archaeological site located within the Golan Heights.

In the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus is said to have approached the area near the city, but without entering the city itself. Jesus, while in this area, asked his closest disciples what they thought of him. Accounts of their answers, including the Confession of Peter, are found in the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as in the Gospel of Thomas. Here, Saint Peter made his confession of Jesus as the Messiah and the “Son of the living God”, and Christ, in turn, gave a charge to Peter.

A woman from Paneas, who had been bleeding for 12 years, is said to have been miraculously cured by Jesus. After she was cured, she had a statue of Christ erected.

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Tel Dan

Dan, a city mentioned in the Bible, is described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, belonging to the Tribe of Dan.

Dan is situated in Israel, in the area known as the Galilee Panhandle. To the west is the southern part of Mount Lebanon; to the east and north are the Hermon mountains. Melting snow from the Hermon mountains provides the majority of the water of the Jordan River, and passes through Dan, making the immediate area highly fertile. The lush vegetation that results makes the area around Dan seem somewhat out of place in the otherwise arid region around it. Due to its location close to the border with Lebanon and at the far north of the territory which fell under the British Mandate of Palestine, the site has a long and often bitterly-contested modern history, most recently during the 1967 Six-Day War.

According to the archaeological excavations at the site, the town was originally occupied from  4500 B.C.E., although at some time in the fourth millennium B.C.E. it was abandoned for almost 1000 years.

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Dan was the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, known as Laish prior to the conquest by the Tribe of Dan.  The finds date back to 4500 B.C. E.  We will stand in the temple built by Jeroboam and behold the “Arch of Abraham.”  This area is also the place where the “House of David” inscription was discovered.

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Tel Dan Stele

The Tel Dan Stele is a stele (inscribed stone) discovered in 1993/94 during excavations at Tel Dan in northern Israel. Its author was a king of Damascus, Hazael or one of his sons, and it contains an Aramaic inscription commemorating victories over local ancient peoples including “Israel” and the “House of David.” The inscription generated excitement among biblical scholars and biblical archaeologists because the letters are identical to the Hebrew (and early Aramaic) words for “House of David.”  If these letters refer to the Davidic line then this is the first time the name “David” has been recognized at any archaeological site. The scholarly consensus among archaeologists and epigraphers is that the fragment is an authentic reference to the biblical King David.

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