Sunday, July 31, 2011

St: Peter's Catholic Church (parts of walls inside the church from 1100 AD), Tiberias. The earlier Crusader Church was built to commemorate the "First Miraculous Draught of Fish" along with the Calling of Peter and Andrew as Apostles by Jesus (Matthew 4: 18-22 and Luke 5: 1-11). The nave of the church represented the hull of an overturned boat. At the 16th century when Muslims controlled Tiberias, the church was often used as a stable for animals! It was only in 1847 Franciscans could repair the Church.

6P: The mosaic in the apse depicts St: Peter in a boat. The words, 'portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam' (Latin) is taken from Matthew 16:18, which is translated in KJV as 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'.

8P: Monument to the Virgin of Czestochowa- built in 1945 by Polish soldiers of the Third Army (who fought here in World War II) in memory of their stay in the Casa Nova of Tiberias. Casa Nova was a hostel built in 1903 for pilgrims visiting Holy Land and still functions.

Inside the Church

Saturday, July 23, 2011

VISITING ARBEL NATURE RESERVE-one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Israel. 'Beth-Arbel' in the Holy Bible (Hoshea 10:14) is most probably refering to the region of Arbel.

The official brochure of the National Park introduces Arbel as "A sheer cliff rising majestically above the Sea of Galilee with a magnificent view of the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon; an ancient community that left remnants of its fine synagogue;trails to a cave-fortress nestled in the rock – these are the Arbel: a nature reserve and national park, a jewel of nature and landscape and an ancient heritage site unparalleled in Israel".

The 'Arbel National Park' is spread in 2,127 acres and it encompasses 460 acres of the national reserve. Mount Arbel (181 meters above sea level or 390 meters above the Sea of Galilee) and Mount Nitay (98 meters above sea level) are the major cliffs in the reserve. Abundant with some unique flora and fauna,  Arbel  is also famous for its history. Active from the Maccabean period (2nd century BC), Arbel has been associated with King Herod and Josephus. Jesus has  preached and performed many miracles in the Valley of Ginnosar at the foot of the Arbel. The towns of Magdala and Capernaum associated with Jesus' public ministry are also located near the valley of Arbel. I believe that there is a high probability of Jesus climbing these cliffs with his disciples for solitude or prayer. 

Arbel is often mentioned in both the Mishnah and Talmud. Some famous Jewish sages like Nitai HaArbeli (2nd Cent. BC), Rabbi Zeira (3rd  to 4th Cent AD) and Rabbi Hezekiah (3rd Cent AD) are said to be buried here though their graves are not identifiable today. Interestingly, there is even a certain Jewish tradition that the burial sites of Reuben, Levi and Dina (children of Jacob) and Seth (son of Adam) are in  Arbel!

There are several hiking trails marked inside the park, from 30 minutes short walk to more demanding steep routes that can easily take 4-5 hours.We took some of the lengthiest trails. It was a bit tiresome  feeling to walk under the scorching heat. However, the breathtaking views offered by Arbel's summit together with knowing its glorious past was a rewarding experience.

Entering Arbel Nature Reserve

Horns of Hattim -Moshav Arbel-Kfar Hittim -Kfar Zeitim -Tomb of Nabi Shueib: Views from Arbel Cliffs.

Horns of Hattim-site for the famous battle of 1187 that ended Crusader rule in Holy Land
Moshav Arbel-established in 1949 on the site of Arab village Hattin
Kfar Hittim-est. in 1936, it is the the first moshav shitufi and the first Tower and stockade settlement in Israel
Kfar Zeitim- or the'Valley of Olives' is a Moshav established in 1950 by Yemenite Jews.
Tomb of Nabi Shueib-holiest site of Druze community, the burial site of Jethro-the father-in-law of Moses.

See also

Mount Tabor from Arbel (Traditional site of the Transfiguration of Jesus-Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28-36; 2 Peter 1:16-18)

The valley beneath 'Horns of Hattim'.