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Kavode Tour: Israel 2019 - Day 2

Updated: Apr 11, 2019

We began our second day traveling to the northern hill country to the ancient city of Dan. Before reaching the ancient walled city, we traveled through the Tel Dan Nature Reserve. The Dan River runs through the nature reserve, and it is one of the three water sources that feeds the Jordan River. Because of the heavy rain recently, the Dan River was high and flowing faster than normal, and it was a sight to see.

The Dan River running through the nature reserve.

After walking through the nature reserve, we arrived at the ancient city of Dan. Now, Dan is mentioned in several places throughout the Bible and has significant history behind it. The Old Testament refers to the city as Laish before the conquest of Dan. The city was a fortress for those who lived there. Apart from the walls, the city's first defense was its sloped, roughly paved street leading up to the entrance. Once you enter the city walls, the walls and path become narrow with sharp turns as a deterrent for large invading armies. The narrow and windy paths create a choke point, which limited the amount of soldiers who could advance at one time, and it created a higher chance of defending off invaders. Inside the entrance there is the seat of where a king or judge would sit, and from that spot they would permit or deny entry to visitors. This is the same type of seat that Eli would have been sitting on in Shiloh when he fell over backwards, broke his neck, and died after hearing about the deaths of his sons in 1 Samuel 4:18.

After entering the city further, we reached the part of the city that was an epicenter of false idol worship in ancient Israel. In 1 Kings 12 after the kingdom of Israel was split in two, Jeroboam built two temples that were supposed to rival the Temple of Solomon and the worship of Yahweh. To keep the people of the north from going down to Jerusalem and devoting themselves to Rehoboam, Jeroboam built two temples for the northern tribes to worship at. In an act of idolatry and blasphemy, Jeroboam built two temples, consecrated priests who are not levites, and made two golden calves and declared them to be the gods of Israel. Jeroboam repeats the same sin of the Israelites while they were in the wilderness and Moses was on the mountain with God. We stood in a place where animals would have been sacrificed to false gods, and the one true God, Yahweh, was blasphemed by his covenantal people.

We then walked a few hundred feet to the Israeli boarder with Lebanon and Syria. Today was a day about both ancient and modern Israel. As we stood next to a bunker from the Six-Day War, we discussed the life and work of Eli Cohen and how his espionage led to Israel's victory. One of his accomplishments was getting Syrian forces to plant eucalyptus trees at every bunker to provide shade for Syrian forces, but in reality it was a location marker for the Israeli Defense Force.

Israeli-Lebanon-Syrian Border

Our next stop is probably one of the greatest finds of biblical history. In Genesis 14:14, after hearing that Lot had been taken captive, Abraham gathered 318 men and went to the city of Dan to rescue him. The name for this site is "Abraham's Gate" because it is believed that Abraham passed through this gate to rescue lot 4,000 years ago. This is one of the oldest surviving gates in history, and it gives us further insight to ancient technology. Before the discovery of this gate, it was believed that the Romans had figured out how to make curved arches; however, Abraham's gate features a curved arch. Therefore, the mathematics and technology needed to build an arch was known thousands of years before the Roman Empire even existed.

Abraham's Gate

After leaving the ancient city of Day, we traveled to see the Banias Waterfalls, which were also flowing much heavier than normal due to the amount of rain the region has received. From the falls, we traveled to Caesarea Philippi located at the southwestern summit of Mount Hermon. It is quite probable that the location of Caesarea Philippi is also the location of Baal Gad in the Old Testament. In Jesus' time, Caesarea Philippi was also known as Paneas for its association with the worship of the Greek god Pan, the god of the wild. Caesarea Philippi was known as the most pagan place in all of Israel during the time of Jesus. This place was a physical manifestation of spiritual darkness and a strong hold of wickedness. It was essentially the Sodom and Gomorrah of the New Testament. In Caesarea Philippi there was a temple and grotto of Pan. The grotto was a massive cave that was pitch black and appeared to sink into an abyss. This cave was known as the gates of Hades. This place was quite literally known as a physical portal to hell for the people of Jesus' day. They sacrificed animals and threw them into this cave to appease the pagan god, Pan. It was not a place where pious Jews would dare venture into, and yet it is exactly where Jesus took his disciples in Matthew 16.

After taking his disciples to this stronghold of darkness, Jesus asks his disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" It is here that Peter confesses Jesus as the Messiah, the son of the living God. Then Jesus makes this declaration: " And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Jesus makes the declaration that the gate of hell will never prevail against his church while sitting in the place that is literally known as the gates of Hades. Jesus is declaring his power and authority over the spiritual forces of darkness as the Almighty God incarnate. Then in Matthew 17, Jesus answers his own question of who he is by leading Peter, James, and John up Mount Hermon where they experience Jesus' transfiguration where Jesus' true identity and glory is revealed.

Gates of Hades/Grotto of Pan

From the gate of Hades, we ate lunch and traveled to the Valley of Tears in the Golan Heights where Israel borders Syria. In 1973, when Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur and started the Yom Kippur war, a small force of Israeli tanks held off Syrian forces for four days. Outnumbered 10-1, the Israeli forces defended the Israeli border from the Syrian invasion, which was pivotal for Israel's victory in the Yom Kippur War. Young Israelis, 17-18 years old, risked and sacrificed their lives to protect their homeland from an invading county whose only goal is to wipe them off the face of the map. Because of their bravery, Israel still stands as a beacon of light, hope, and democracy in the Middle East.

Valley of Tears


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