While planning this trip, Bradley and I decided to make sure we were in Jerusalem every Shabbat, to make going to church easier. So today, we trekked back up north, to the cooler temperatures and crowded streets of Jerusalem.
Our apartment in Eilat (and here in our second Jerusalem apartment) has a safe room, as mandated after the 1991 Gulf War when Saddam Hussein lobbed SCUD missiles at Israel. The doors seal completely with bars into the sides and it has a separate cooling/heating system.
The scenery on the way north is severe but gorgeous. The Negev Desert is very dry, but the Israelis are an industrious and creative people–there were farms and orchards and vineyards along the way, always startling in their vivid greenery.
I love the contrast in these mountains. The pale rocks in the back are limestones, but I’m not sure about the darker mountains. On the road north of Eilat through the Negev Desert.
These weird tornado-looking trees are my favorites. And look at that alluvial fan in the background!
The new (2019) Ramon Airport, north of Eilat, has this giant fence on one side of it. We were really curious about it, and so we looked it up. It is, apparently, an anti-missile wall–the world’s highest at 20 feet tall and 34 km long. The airport is really close to Jordan–which, ya know, has invaded Israel at least twice in the last 70 years. It’s not clear to me how the fence will stop missiles, but the Israelis spent $80 million on it, so I imagine it works!
This week on “Utah or Israel?” (they would be redder if they were in 90% of Utah.)
Hebs, cheerfully in the worst seat in the whole van. What a great guy!
Yummy, in the front seat with me, trying to nap. It’s been a very long time since I was able to fold in half like that.
About two-thirds of the way up the country is Beersheba, the traditional southernmost point of the Kingdom of Israel. (“From Dan to Beersheba” was the saying, similar to us saying “from coast to coast”). Here is one of the four famous tels of Israel–large mounds of settlements that span thousands of years. We stopped at the National Park (yay, Israel pass for free entry!!!) to explore for an hour or so.
My first tel! Tel Be’er Sheva, home of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah and Rachel…what a desolate land around it, though. No wonder they had to wander to keep their herds and flocks fed. A tel is an archeological mound of strata of previous settlements–in other words, people continually built on top of older settlements through hundreds and even thousands of years–a manmade hill. We practically had the place to ourselves–a recent theme. Is it because we keep going when it is blindingly hot? Or are these sites not as popular? Who knows? We are definitely enjoying it!
Model of what the area looked like during David and Solomon’s times, 1000 years BC.
Entrance into the cisterns carved into solid rock (chalk, but still solid rock)
LaDonna in the cisterns
My dramatic daughters, in one of the five sections of the cistern
Zee and shadows
The chalk walls were heavily plastered to make them watertight. You can still see the finger marks of the ancient workmen.
Hebs and Yummy photobombed my selfie
Hole at the top of the cistern
Deep, deep well (69 meters!) to hit the groundwater. This well was outside the city gates, and was used to water the caravans that would come through this area, since the camels and other livestock weren’t allowed in the city walls.
Rooms at the city gate–these were used to store taxed material, for judgments, for discussions, and for deciding whether or not you were trustyworthy enough to come in. We just read Ruth yesterday, where Boaz meets with the elders of the town to decide what to do with Ruth and Naomi. It would have happened in a place very much like this. On the walls, you can see a wavy line in the middle of the rocks–everything above that line was reconstructed, but everything below it was original. That just amazes me.
Tel Be’er Sheva
There was a tower so you could survey the entire area. I didn’t go up–it was so hot!
My cute husband and kids and Eva, Tel Be’er Sheva.
Eva, in the background, home ruins.
The casemate wall–cutting edge defensive measures for the time. They built a wall, built another wall a few feet away, and then filled in the space between with earth and rocks. This blunts the force of the battering rams and other siege weapons, and makes for a strong defensive system.
The steps to the bottom of the cistern–for use when the city was under siege or closed up. I told my Em that this was her job–go fetch the water for the household. All those steps!!!
My Gee, making their way down to the cisterns. I was very proud of them.
Gee and their shadows–they look like statue of the Indian goddess Kali, with her many arms. With wings!!!
Gee, touching the plastered wall.
The way to the many many stone steps was closed for construction work, but I liked this picture anyway. It looks like it belongs in an Indiana Jones movie.
The desert fox!! (Not Rommel from WWII) It was pretty exciting to see him run across the tel above us.