Random Notes — Israel and observations
At the Israeli/Jordanian border crossing and reflecting on our sojourn so far with Jordan yet to come over the next few days, it occurs to me that it doesn’t matter if you have just a simple, nodding, and casual acquaintance or are a more serious, church going, chapter and verse, bible or torah believing christian or jew, or perhaps just a live and let live, cultural christian or jew with just a passing familiarity of the history, traditions, people and places of the bible and who has adopted the basic tenets and precepts of christianity and judaism, like the ten commandments, as your lodestar of life, Israel and the Middle East is the place where the entire judeau christian ethos began and forever has been the religious and cultural crossroads of civilisation.
It’s quite an experience walking in the same space and seeing pretty much the same things the way these people from the pages of history would have seen them several millennia ago.
My personal takeout from the last week, walking through the history of Israel and feeling the breath of the ghosts of those that made that history, is that to the extent that history is about dates, places, people and events, it seems to me that the Bible is just as much a history book as it is a book of spiritual enlightenment and many of the the events described (miracles) are simply allegories or metaphors used to explain spiritual truths, not dissimilar to aboriginal dreamtime stories and song lines used to explain and make sense of the inexplicable to those of an ancient civilisation when those things were beyond human understanding or comprehension and before the age of enlightenment, logic, science and reason.
In other words bible miracles, the dreamtime, song lines and even many of the more comparatively recent writings like Aesop’s fables, are literary devices used as a simple way of transmitting cultural and ancestral stories.
In a funny kind of way, the entire experience reminds of the Mark Cohn song, Walking in Memphis, but rather than seeing the ghost of Elvis walking up to the gates of Gracelands, here, in this place, seeing and feeling the spirit of the great men and women of history.
A day in the life and on the road to — The City of David.
Today is another walk through history with a tour of the tunnels underneath The City of David, a stones throw, (pun intended) from the Temple On The Mount and the Herodium, the burial site of Herod the Great, around the time of Jesus.
It’s hard to believe that you’re actually at this place. No amount of images or videos can capture the ambience, the scale, the dimension or the history as you walk among the ghosts 2500, 3000 years ago.
Even for me, a Presbyterian farm boy, the wailing wall was quite the life time experience.
The Kidron Valley which is more of a gully conjures verdant and pastoral scenes but neither it or The City of David is the stuff of your average Christmas card and popular imaginings. It’s closer to third world squalor than anything else.
The locals if asked regard themselves as Palestinians (victims) but became Israeli Arabs after the 1967 war with full rights of Israeli citizenships.
Living as they do and regarding themselves as Palestinians first, Arabs second, and Arab Israelis third, it raises the question, where are all the oil wealthy Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and Jordan, their fellow Arab Muslim brothers? They don’t lift a finger to help and it falls to the West.
I’ve suspected for many decades that the idea is to keep them angry by keeping them illiterate and unemployed with a sense of hopelessness.
Jerusalem was never a capital city of the Arabs or the Palestinians, only the Jews and as with the Temple on the Mount, if the Jews have it the Muslims want it.
The images are random and where relevant I’ve photographed the sign post that gives a thumbnail.
You could spend everyday of a single year here and you still wouldn’t scratch the surface of the archeology or history.