Wednesday, May 22, 2013

holy land tour, day five : scythopolis, jericho, and arad


Today we made our way southward from the Galilee area down to the Judean Wilderness near the Dead Sea. It involved a little more driving and a little less sightseeing, but since I was rather exhausted from far too little sleep, that was okay with me. :) And honestly… I know I said yesterday was my favorite day of touring, but today pretty much made my life. You’ll see why.

First things first, though. We stopped off at the massive excavation of Scythopolis (Beth Shean), a Roman city complete with all the elements of a typical Roman town—a theater, a broad stone street for cart traffic, narrower mosaic sidewalks along the shopfronts, huge pillars, and most memorable, the latrines. This kind of city was franchised to look similar to all the others in the empire in order to create a sense of unity throughout the plethora of races and nations that came under its rule.


Why I have so few pictures from our time at Jericho, I have no idea. I found it an incredibly interesting site. The modern city of Jericho has grown up around the ancient site that God forbade His people to rebuild after He gave it to them in victory in Joshua 2-6, but beneath that hill lies the oldest known walled city in the world. That blows my mind.


Arad. Our time in Arad pretty much made my life. We had an overnight stay at a Bedouin camp, where we learned a little bit about Bedouin culture, ate our food with our fingers while sitting criss-cross on the floor, and—yes—rode camels.

Dream. Come. True.

(Yes, I am a tourist. Live with it.)

Not only that, but my camel was also white. Do you have any idea how much that means to me? If I Were Going was my #1 favorite book growing up, and I absolutely loved the story about Ali and his white camel, Hassan. Who would have thought that years after devouring that book again and again, I’d be traveling across the world and riding a white camel in the desert with Bedouins?!


And as beautiful as Tel Dan was, I can’t help thinking that Arad was even prettier. Something about the desert is just… incredible.


Annnnnd……. they had donkeys. Baby donkeys.


I can’t even tell you how exciting this was for me. I loved every minute. I loved gathering as a group after dinner to read parts of the Bible that took place in this same Judean Wilderness. I loved sleeping like a rock on my bunk behind our goat-hair tent wall. I loved learning about the very strange fact that our hosts, the Bedouins, are polygamous…that most families are made up of three or four wives and 20+ children. It was so different.



  1. That is so cool you got to ride a white camel! And did you get to control it yourself, or did someone else lead it?

    I think it's weird that the Bedouins are polygamous. Of what religion are they (which is probably a really dorky question)?

  2. The Bedouins are normally Muslims, but they don't have to be. The ones we stayed with were. They were nice and made us delicious food, and had lots of feral cats. And a Dalmatian.

  3. Uh oh--my sister is going to want you to bring one of those baby donkeys home to her. Could you bring one to me too, do you think? Oh, and A. She mentioned she'd like to have one as well...

    I am so enjoying your pictures, Halz. Can't wait to see all of them when you are finally back home in G.




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