Week 19 Thursday: Belvoir Fortress, Bethlehem: Church of the Nativity, and Herodion

Thank you for reading about my class trip to Egypt-Israel/Palestine!  I am fundraising to pay for the trip so if you would like to learn more about that please click here.

We used 3 categories for everything we saw to distinguish how plausible it was that something actually happened in a particular location.

Categories

1.    Category 1:  There is archeological proof that this is logically the place where “it” occurred.

2.    Category 2:  Somewhere in between Category 1 and Category 3.

3.    Category 3:  Tradition states that this is where “it” took place.  However, there is no archeological proof and usually there is 20 more feet of dirt on top of the location then there was during Jesus’ time (or whatever time we talking about).

Thursday

Thursday morning we set out bright and early to Jerusalem.

Belvoir Fortress

Belvoir Fortress is a fortress that was built during the Crusades by the Crusaders (makes sense).  It was really nice to see and talk about a different time in history and learn a bit about the Crusaders.  Furthermore, the view was spectacular and it was on our way to Jerusalem from the Sea of Galilee.

View from Belvoir Fortress with me in the way:
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Arch at Belvoir Fortress:
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Who were the Crusaders:
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Bethlehem

We arrived to Jerusalem…and drove right through it to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity.  As we met right outside the church there was a protest going on across the street over the war in Gaza at the Bethlehem Peace Center.

Protest in Bethlehem:
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We then went inside the Church of the Nativity.  The door to get in is very short, therefore, it is called “the door of humility” because one must bow to go through it.  However, we were told the main purpose was most likely so that a person could not just ride in on a horse.  Honestly, I did not know the history of this church when we entered.  After we entered, a priest came up to our guide and we were asked to leave for 30 minutes for being loud.  I could feel that there was a lot of tension in the church. This is when we learned that the church is split right down the middle with the Greek Orthodox owning one half and the other half belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church.  Apparently, there are set rules about who can go where and the priest get in fist fights every now and again when the other side thinks someone has crossed the line.  It is a very tense place.  We went down and saw the star which is the traditional site where Jesus was born.  This is a category 3.  We were told that it is basically impossible for this to be the site where Christ was actually born.  However, it was still very powerful to be in the spot where so many people come and pray and believe that Christ was born.  After we left, I felt stressed because of the stressful environment and it took me a while to calm down.  I was really sad about how the supposed place of Jesus’ birth had become a place of such conflict.

Video of traditional place where Jesus was born and where the manger was:

Picture of Traditional place where Jesus was born (the star marks the spot):
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Herodion

Herodion is a palace fortress that King Herod the Great built for himself.  Just 2 years ago, the Tomb of Herod was found here which is really interesting.  The tunnel system was incredible and once again I was completely blown away by how much attention was paid to architecture back then.

Herodion

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We then headed back to Jerusalem to the place we would be staying for the next several nights.  From Herodion one can see all of Bethlehem and Jerusalem side by side.  Jerusalem and Bethlehem are separated by a wall, but the cities are conjoined.  I thought there would be some distance between them, but they are practically one city it appears.

Welp, that’s all for now.  I’ll finish the rest of the trip later this week.  Have a great day!

Wow. It's Quiet Here...

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