that look very similar to what people of the Bible saw on regular basis seems to me important as much as the big shrines erected across this country. I just try to imagine Our Lord and his disciples travelling through this land without the luxury of the air-conditioned coach but covering this relatively small but challenging in terms of travelling piece of the world. I guess their way of moving from one place to another gave them more exposure to the surrounding. That’s why I try to “inhale” this Land by focusing on the areas we travel rather than simply waiting for another site to visit. As I mentioned the terraces with olive trees reminded me the parable of the man who build a tower on his field. Similar towers or ruins of such towers I was able to observe during the trip. The owner of the field would use the tower to say during the time of harvesting so that his crop wouldn’t be stolen by somebody else. Probably that’s something different to Australian way of farming but it was a common practice when Jesus walked this Land. Travelling through this same Land I hits me more and more how observative he was and how the landscape and life style of his time made it to his teaching. However the Land is still the shrine of the events that are recorded in the Bible. Most of us are familiar with the battle David had with Goliath. Standing at the Tel-Azeka Lookout that gives a view of the valley when the future king stood up to a much more experienced philistine warrior I was reflecting how much faith David must have had. I always thought of David as a little guy but reading carefully the Bible one can find clues that probably he wasn’t of short posture. I never connected that the reason king Soul offered him his own armour was that they were of similar height. Nevertheless even if he was tall David was unexperienced in war so it was an act of faith to volunteer to fight the best soldier of the Philistines. The valley that goes around the lookout saw the Philistines running away after God’s intervention through unexperienced but trusting young man. Standing at that lookout I reflected on my own faith and trust in God that needs to be “grounded” in places and situations I encounter. Once again it moved me that faith and trust aren’t made up fairy stories but reactions to concrete situations like the one that took in this valley I looked at from the lookout. The ruins of Tel Maresha brought alive another biblical passage alive. In the site we visited an underground columbarium where Jews bred pigeons for religious purposes. According to the Gospel when Mary and Joseph brought the Baby Jesus to the Temple they offered a pair of pigeons. As I was looking at the little arches for the birds to nest I thought about the orthodoxy of Jesus’ parents who faithfully followed the rituals of their people. The same site offered us also an insight to an important “industry” – olive oil. The cave system where the olive oil used to be produced is impressive, however what struck me was that the oil from here was transported all the way to Egypt. As Egypt had a high demand for this product but couldn’t grow olives due to its
climate conditions it needed this part of the land to meet its demands. For us Christians spread throughout the world it is reminder that for two millennia we rely on what happened in this Land where Jesus fulfilled his Salvation mission. The last point of our visit to Tel Maresha was visiting a grave site. The empty tomb from that period of time gave us some understanding to the funeral practices to the Jewish people of the time of Jesus. Those who could afford a cave would be placed there on a stone bench until the body decomposed and then the bones would be gathered and placed in the second chamber to make room for the next deceased. The tomb we visited was empty for tourist purposes but I couldn’t stop thinking about another tomb where no bones were gathered as the body of the Man placed there was resurrected on Easter Sunday. The final trip of the day took us to the Mediterranean Costal City of Ashkelon. While most of the group went for a dip in the sea a few of us had a chance to explore the original site of the city with the remains of the
gate built in 1850 BC. Sometimes reading the Bible we think only about the Jewish people who came to this Promised Land but this Promised Land was home to some others before the Jews settled here.