December 8, 2022
On our last day, our flight home was not until nearly midnight, Israeli time, so we had the day to make stops on the way to the airport. It was an awesome day. We visited two cave areas. The Dove Caves were caves carved underground in limestone that housed thousands of doves. Little dove houses were carved into caves where the temperature was conducive as a dove habitat. The area was on a major road into Jerusalem where pilgrims to the Temple would stop to buy their dove offerings for worship purposes. It is highly possible that Mary and Joseph stopped here when Jesus was twelve, and they were on the way to the Temple with Jesus.
The Bell Caves were hollowed out from above to excavate the limestone for building purposes. The process caused the caves to be shaped like a bell in the interior. They were connected to each other and were a beautiful sight with their unique shape and coloration.
From the caves, we proceeded to the Khirbet Quiyafa National Park, famed because it was the site of the battle between young David (who would become King) and the Philistine giant called Goliath, ending with David’s sling shot victory. The park overlooks the Ela Valley where the opposing armies of Israel and Philistine gathered. Just amazing.
Jaffa, ancient Joppa, is a seaside port and old city not far from Tel Aviv. Here, Old Testament Jonah tried to escape from God, being swallowed by a large fish when he was thrown overboard into the Mediterranean Sea. It was here that Jesus healed Tabitha (Dorcas), a revered woman of extraordinary good works. It was also here that Peter, in the still present home of Simon the Tanner, saw a heavenly vision of unclean animals and heard God say he was to eat. Peter realized that God was telling him to open the church to Gentiles, who were considered unclean, thus setting the church on a missionary path into the world. Today, the old city has been preserved and is quite trendy with artist shops along its narrow cobbled streets and sailing vessels filling its long pedestrianized harbor area. One particularly unusual artist piece was above us as we walked along one area. Hundreds of white plastic lawn chairs were stacked together and snaked over and around buildings. Fun!
We had a farewell dinner in Joffa and headed off to the airport. We flew overnight and arrived home in the dark earlier in the day than we departed (flying against 8 time zones) only to go to bed at the time we normally would have been “up and at ’em” in Israel. We treasure the memories we made in the Holy Land!