By Reilly Reis
Today’s journey began with our drive to Old Shiloh. At the site of Old Shiloh we talked about the history of the Tabernacle and Eli’s sinful sons. While we were there we were also able to learn more about the twelve tribes of Israel and their unique relationships with one another. Next we traveled to Mount Gerazim, where we were able to see the remains of a Byzantine church and a fortified enclosure. The site of Mount Gerazim is located within a Samaritan village. I learned that at the time of Passover that this community still performs animal sacrifices. Passover is an eight-day festival that is celebrated in early spring and honors God’s delivery of the Israelites from Egypt and the plagues. From Mount Gerazim we drove to Alone Moreh, where we were we had an incredible view of the mountain ranges, valleys, and hills of Northern Israel. From Alone Moreh we drove to the Church of Jacob’s Well, which was incredibly ornate! One of the highlights of my day was dropping water from the top of the well, which was below the main level of the church, and counting the seconds until it reached the bottom! This well was remarkably deep. From the church we drove to Sebastia, which has heavy Hellenistic (Greek) influences within its structure and design. The remains of Sebastia date back to Third Century B.C.. At the site of Sebastia we were able to see the remains of a basilica (large oblong hall or building with double colonnades- rows of columns), a theater, the temple that Herod the Great built in honor of Caesar Augustus, the palace of the Kings of Isreal, and the tombs of the relatives of the one Christian family while helps run and upkeep the site. We were able to take in some truly amazing views today! Some other highlights from my day would be seeing a man cutting down wheat with a sickle in hand , as well as our experience of seeing two herds of sheep with their shepherds. As Professor Shultz has pointed out, we are still able to see the strong culture and customs of this beautiful land that have remained from Biblical times to the twenty-first century! Tomorrow is our day off and I am excited to explore Jerusalem! I hope to visit a museum or two while I am here. Preferably, the Israel Museum and the Holocaust Museum. Few things will beat the magnificent views that I was able to see today! I am truly blessed to have been given the opportunity of experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!