That was the best fieldtrip I have ever been on in my life!
Our teachers took us west of Jerusalem, towards the Mediterranean, to see some very unique Bible sites. Among others we stepped foot in Sorek Valley, where the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to Israel and where Samson grew up. We also spent time in the Valley of Elah, where David killed Goliath with one shot from a sling. Not as easy as it may sound! Those sling things are tricky! I was overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of history that that ground had seen. I tried to see passed the bell pepper farm that now takes up residence in part of the valley and imagine how the camps would have looked and the buzz of anticipation that would have been in the air. It was pretty epic. If you could have read my mind, you would have been like, “Wha..?” (That one’s for you, Gabe). I collected five smooth stones from the creek bed to bring home and show to my primary class someday.
We also saw some incredible geographical sites. The bell caves were magnificent! They are these gigantic caverns carved out of limestone and besides being breathtaking they are entirely indescribable, but I’ll try. Dissimilar to the typical picture of a cave they are spacious and well lit through small openings in the ceiling, the streaming sunlight enhancing the yellow of the limestone. Occasionally a pigeon alights from her perch, disrupting the placid rays of sunshine, the sound of her fluttering wings reverberating off every stony surface only to fade to tranquil silence once more. The high ceilings make for beautiful echoes, which we took full advantage of when we sang “For the Beauty of the Earth” as a group. It was glorious!
We saw olive presses and cisterns that were built two-hundred years before Christ and visited a city, Lachish , where the Babylonians built a siege ramp up to the wall and defeated the Israelites. There was a room there that had clay tablets on which the Israelites wrote messages that were being run back to Jerusalem. They’ve taken the actual tablets to a museum but we read the translation and it made it so real. The Babylonians were attacking a neighboring stronghold, Azekah, and when the signal fires went out, the people in Lachish knew they were next. A defeat meant death for the men and slavery and abuse for women and children. We could almost taste the terrible anticipation as the people waited for an attack. The city was built on a tel that the Israeli government has not yet allowed to be excavated, but there are years of history under there! I just stood there overwhelmed with all of the history that I was standing on top of.