Today was very different than yesterday. We saw the Church of Nativity, where Christ was born, and traveled throughout Bethlehem visiting some sites.
First, we left Jerusalem and traveled through the West Wall into Palestine where Bethelehem is located. This is just 7km south of Jerusalem. Along the way I took some photos of the political side of the struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. We traveled through Bethelehem to Herodian – a palace of King Herod. In the Bible, it is possible when Jesus said “If you have faith, you can move mountains” that he was most likely looking from Jerusalem toward Herodian. Here, Herod’s men literally chopped off the top of one mountaing and build a fortress on the mountain next to it. We were able to tour this archaelogical site.
Next, tourist time! We traveled back into Bethlehem and went to an Olive wood factory and bought a few souveniers.
The Church of the Nativity was next. This is the location marking where Jesus was born. At the site are three different churches. The “stable” that we think of from stories was actually a cave. Animals would have been brought into the cave to protect them from the elements. In 300 AD a church was built over the cave to protect it and commemorate the location. As Rev. Brown said, no one actually knows if it is the actual location, but for 1700 years it is the place where Christians have gone to remember Christ. As soon as I enterd the church, I felt a change. I could feel the importance of the church. In the cave below the church also lies the Tomb of the Innocents – where the boys that Herod massacred in search for the baby Messiah were buried.
Afterward we went to the Shepherds Field. This location is believed to be where the angels appeared to the Shepherds. Strangley, we are in the middle of the city, but yet like a park anywhere the area is protected so the trees, wheat, and other plants are growing naturally. There were even sheep off to one side.
Tonight, I am tired. Jet lagged, and worn out. Tomorrow, we leave earlier, 7a, and head to the Sea of Gallillee and willl spend the night in Tiberias.