Saturday, December 29, 2012

Ephriam, Sheepfold, Herodium, Bethlehem

Thought for the Day: 
 The sacrifice of Christ did not begin at Calvary --
It began in Bethlehem

Lintel over Doorway of 1st Century House

Lintel over doorway was brought to the site by the priest at Taybeh / Ephriam.  It was from his mother's home in Bethlehem, and was from the same time period as Christ.  On the doors, a key was inserted into a hole in the door, and then the key lifted the latch that kept the door closed.  The key actually served as a door handle.  There was a trench at the bottom of the door, so if someone needed to borrow bread, it could be passed through the door without having to open the door.  
Trench at Bottom of Door 

 First Century House in Ephriam 
Paul standing in doorway of the "katalouma"
Karen, Alan and Joyce, Glenda sitting in front of grain storage area
Kitchen / Living Area of 1st Century House 
Oven smoke helped control insects in house 

Stable Under House 
Housed animals and the bedrock kept the house from being "unclean" 

Interesting thesis regarding Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus:  Joseph was from Bethlehem and probably had a shared family home there. Since he was an observant Jewish carpenter, he most likely left Bethlehem and moved to Nazareth to avoid being conscripted to work on the Herodium. He and Mary would travel back and forth to Bethlehem three or four times a year to observe the various holy days at the Temple in Jerusalem which was a short hike from Bethlehem.  The katalouma was the "guest bedroom".  When going back to Bethlehem for the census, there was no room in the "katalouma".  So...Mary and Joseph probably stayed in the stable "under the house" to keep the family from becoming "unclean" by the birth / afterbirth.  
Michael Card Leading Worship in Ephriam
"Great is Thy Faithfulness" 
The carpet had little stars on it...perhaps dropped there during some Christmas celebration.  I picked up a few stars and placed them in my journal; then picked up some more and
 gave them to Tim who had recently lost his wife.  

Sanctuary of Church in Ephriam

Font filled with greenery for Christmas; Christ Candle 

After worship, we went for tea with the Palestinian Priest of the church.  He spoke on the plight of the Palestinian Christians in Ephriam.  Purchased to wood carved nativity sets from him to help support the work of the church.   

Traveled to a sheepfold in the countryside for a teaching on the Good Shepherd, and to talk about the possibility of the shepherds in the Christmas story being shepherds who guarded the sacrificial sheep for the Temple. While we were talking, we could suddenly hear bells from the necks of sheep ringing.  Over the rise across the way, a Bedouin shepherd appeared and herded his sheep right down in front of us!  A sacred moment!  

Bedouin Sheep Fold
Dr. James C. Martin teaching on the Good Shepherd

 Bedouin Shepherd and Sheep

 Bedouin Shepherd Leading Sheep

Our next stop was the Herodium, the Palace Fortress of Herod the Great.  He built the Herodium by leveling  another mountain to create a Palace Fortress that was supreme over the land.  The hill ended up looking very much like a cinder cone of a volcano with the fortress on top.  It definitely cast a shadow on the little town of Bethlehem.  

Model of Herodium Palace Fortress

The town of Bethlehem sitting in the shadow of the Herodium 

Ruins of Herod's Swimming Pool 
located at the base of the Herodium 

Inside the Palace Fortress 

Detail on Capital at Herodium
Spectacular Sun Break at Herodium 
"In the shadow of great darkness, a light has dawned."
The palace fortress lies in ruins, but the message of Christ has continued through the ages. 

A couple of interesting thesis proposed during discussion:   

John the Baptist was born into the priestly line...however, he avoided the corrupt system at the Temple.  He chose to wear camel hair garb rather than the corrupt priestly robe; ate locusts and honey rather than the choicest portions of the "heave" offering.  People came out to the wilderness to hear him because they are seeking authority / legitimacy / authenticity.  

Genealogy of Joseph in Matthew is to prove that Jesus is NOT the son of David. 

Matthew 22.44-45

44‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45If David thus calls him Lord, how can he be his son?” 

Jesus is Lord as legitimate King of kings, rather than Herod who is only a political king.  Jesus is Lord, Creator of David.  
Herod wanted to be served; Christ came to serve. 
Herod took lives of people; Jesus gave life 
Herod cast a shadow of darkness on the land; Jesus was the new light that dawned 

Genesis 1 - 11:              Need of a Rescuer 
Genesis 12 - Malachi:  Rescuer Revealed 
Gospels:                        Rescuer Has Arrived 
Acts - Revelation:         Rescue Fulfilled 

 Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem
 St. Jerome's Grotto
Sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" with Michael Card
St. Jerome translated the Vulgate here 
 Passageway connecting the Churches of Nativity 

 Doorway of Humility for Pilgrims into the Church

Star in the Courtyard
Sign asks for prayers for peace in Palestine
Top Lintel is the Original Doorway
Gothic Arch from the Time of the Crusaders
 designed to keep carts and large animals out
Current Door is Doorway of Humility for Pilgrims
Coffee Shop Spotted on the Way Back to Bus ;)

Bethlehem used to be 98% Christian, but today it is only 1% Christian. 
We shopped for souvenirs at a shop that supports 33 Christian families.  

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