Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Great Herod! Israel Past and Present Collide

So many times I have been asked what made living in Israel so special? The first thing that comes to mind is the very tangible connection between ancient history and modern day Israel.

Today, Professor Ehud Netzer, an archeologist from Hebrew University and an expert on King Herod, discovered the tomb of King Herod. Herod ruled Judea for the Roman Empire from 37 BCE, was credited with expanding the second Temple, as well as building Masada and Caesarea. He ruled for approximately 40 years, and as King of the Jews was labeled Herod the Great.

The tomb is about 15 miles South of Jerusalem, making one of the richest archeological areas in the world even richer. In Jerusalem and the surrounding region, the Torah (Old Testament), New Testament, and Koran, even history itself comes to life on a regular basis. There is a tangible connection between the life we have created today and the roots we cling to so dearly.

Everywhere you look history unfolds. Many of the streets in the Old City of Jerusalem have streets underneath them which are 3000 – 4000 years old. The Temple Mount houses first and second Temples, the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the Church of the Nativity. In fact, any buildings which aren’t a few thousand years old are simply considered new in Jerusalem.

And history becomes even more vivid outside of the commercialized areas. In Tzora, you can see the caves with the Israelites hid from the Philistines until David came down and slew Goliath. In Beit Shean you can see where Jonathan and his brothers were nailed to the wall by the Byzantine Empire after fighting on Mount Gilboa. And hundreds of other sites exist directly cited in the holy texts.

There is a feeling in Israel which I, and many others, call the power of God, and while I have no proof of it, I believe it exists. But it’s hard to put that feeling into words. But the connection between ancient times and today is real, it’s tangible, and it forces even the most skeptical to see the reality of some of the stories we’ve come to see as folklore.

And when that which we have thought of as fiction can be seen, up close and before our eyes, to be real, that is very magical indeed. It’s one of the main reasons I find Israel such an amazingly special place.

Posted by Scottage at 12:13 AM / | |