Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 31, 1967
NUMBER 17, PAGE 11b-13

The Jenkins-Wallace Bible Land Tour No. 5

Wm. E. Wallace

By Way of Amaaria It was refreshing to go out-of-doors in a morning drive as far north as Dothan. We drove along the very route travelled, in one direction or the other, by Abraham, Joseph, Jesus, Peter and John, because nature has dictated the course of this route.

We drove north past the hill Gibeah, king Saul's headquarters (I Sam. 10:26). We passed by the probable location of ancient Mizpeh where the great assembly with Samuel was held (I Sam. 7:22f), and where Saul was presented to the people as king. We cruised by Ramah (I Kings 15:17-22; Isa. 10:29; Neh. 7:30; 11:33), past Bethel which figured so importantly in Jacob's life, especially with regard to the vision of the ladder (Gen. 28.) The site of Ai the second city destroyed by the Israelites is nearby. We came to that place which has become the namesake of so many church buildings - Shiloh. Here the Ark of The Covenant rested in the time of the judges.

We were thinking as we journeyed in this area, of the magnificent scenery and of the biblical events represented. This area is the center of the scenes of the affairs between the nations Judah and Israel. Suddenly we came upon a place overlooking another one of those most appealing valleys in the land of Palestine. This was the Lebanon Valley where the men of Benjamin nabbed the women for marriage (Judges 21:19-24.)

Next we came to the mountains Gerizim and Geba between which Joshua read to the six tribes on one mountain and the six on the other (Joshua 8.) Jotham delivered a famous parable here (Judges 9:7.) This location is most famous for the event of John 4, the conversation of Jesus with the woman of Samaria at Jacob's well. I found the visit to this very place where the conversation took place to be inspirational beyond description. For a few minutes I leaned against a post and gazed up at Mt. Gerizim meditating on the words of Christ recorded in John 4.

Sychar or Schechem is nearby within view. Here Abraham stopped (Gen. 12:6f) God revealed to Abraham that he had reached the land to which he had been called. Thus God must have considered this area the very center of the "promised land", and here we stood near where Abraham made the sacrifice in commemoration of the event. Judges 9:37 refers to this area as the navel of the land.

We visited the Samaritan synagogue and viewed the old Samaritan version of the Pentateuch which dates back to the 4th or 5th century A. D. There are only about 400 people left who claim identity with the Bible Samaritans. They live in this area, most of them in a colony at Nablus.

The ruins of the city of Samaria were to me about the most impressive ruins I saw on the entire trip. From King Omri (I Kings 16:29) to those days when Philip went down to Samaria to preach (Acts 8), Samaria figures importantly in the events of Bible times. New archeological excavations are in progress at this site. Already excavated are ruins of Israelite, Greek and Roman periods. This place of Samaria is a "natural acropolis" and its importance in the days of kings and prophets as well as in the time of the early church will be reflected vividly as the archeologists continue their work. Edward Robinson, the first Palestinian archeologist, said of Samaria, "It would be difficult to find, in all Palestine, a situation of equal strength, fertility, and beauty combined."

Beyond Samaria a few miles is Dothan. Here, or more likely in the fields near here, Joseph caught up with his brothers, was put into a pit, and sold into slavery. He had come all the way from Hebron (Gen. 37:17-28.) The Syrians encompassed Dothan seeking Elisha (II Kings 6:13f. ) How vivid these stories came to our mind as we walked over Dothan's ruins of the height of the hill overlooking the fields around. There are cisterns here, deep pits.

Here at Dothan we experienced a pleasant change. Dothan is off the beaten path of tourists, it seems. Not many came here. The villagers were friendly and did not ask for tips, nor did they seek to sell us anything. They were curious. A youngster asked me several times why we had come. There were no beaten paths around the ruins. The flowers were in bloom and we felt refreshed and pleasant in spite of the 90 heat.

It is difficult to describe the view and our feelings in adequate terminology as we stood on high places and looked over valley and plain where so much Bible history took place.

Crossing The Border After passing through no man's land between the hostile nations of Jordan and Israel, we entered Jerusalem of Israel which was "dead" for the sabbath. There was but little traffic on the streets. Jews were walking to their synagogues. There is a sabbath "blue law" controversy here. A rabbi gave a sign of distress and protestation toward our bus.

At 'Ain Karim near Jerusalem, in one of those lovely valleys, we were shown the place of the birth of John the Baptist and the place of the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth. As to the first, "An early but unverifiable tradition asserts that John's birthplace was 'Ain Karim..." This may or may not be the place but it is near (Luke 1:39.) And in this area Mary visited Elizabeth.

Back in Jerusalem, Israel, we walked among extremes. The exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls which date back before Christ is adjacent to the ultramodern art exhibit dedicated to the memory of Billy Rose the American showman who put so much money into modern Israel. This is a real study in extremes. I wondered how it could be that the same person could hold equal appreciation for both. Both Jordan and Israel have Dead Sea Scroll exhibits.

After a visit to the Herodian tombs and the alleged tomb of David, our bus headed for open country again, past the Valley of Gehenna, on to the road to Joppa. We passed near Kirjath-jearim where the Ark of The Covenant remained for 20 years before David brought it up to Jerusalem (I Chron. 13:5-8.)

We moved into the valley of Ajalon connected with Joshua's command to the sun to stay over Gideon behind him in the east, and to the moon over the vale of Aijalon in the west (Joshua 10:12-14.)

Gezer brought to mind the "wisdom" of Solomon who married a daughter of Pharoah to obtain rights to this city (I Kings 9:16-17.) We passed near Ramathaim or Arimathaea, which was the home of the Joseph who gave his tomb to Christ. We drove past Lydda (Lod) (Acts 9:32.) The prison where Adolph Eichman was imprisoned and hung was pointed out to us.

Through the plains of Sharon: This area, though so rich and important to both ancient and modern Israel, was not exciting to us because it looked so much like familiar portions of the U. S. A. The pleasant aroma of citrus blooms was noteworthy.

Soon we were out of the Sharon plains, through the strategic passage up to Meggido and out on the historical and prophetic sensation - the plains of Jezreel, or Esdraelon. This was the scene of many Old Testament battles. Today it is the object of much misinterpreted and misapplied prophecy. This is the breadbasket of modern Israel, providing three crops a year. How beautiful it is, and how it opened a panorama of Bible sites to us like Mount Gilboa (I Sam. 21:12), Hill of Moreh (Judges 7:1) and Mount Tabor (Judges 4.) What more can we say, except to recom mend your reviewing the scripture involved?

The two most impressive sights to me on this day of travel, this side of the Sea of Galilee, were Mt. Tabor, the supposed site of the transfiguration (Matt. 17), and the little village of Nain lying at the foot of the hills. At Nain Jesus restored the widow's son to life (Luke 7:11. It was a cool, serene, and inviting sight to weary travelers. Nearby is the site of Elisha's raising of the widow's son - Shunem (II Kings 4.) And then the Horns of Hattin, where some believe the Sermon on the Mount was delivered.

(Continued next week)