Words and photos by Phillip Sategna

Read Part I | Part II | Part III

October 11, Day Eleven:

Top left: The altar inside the church where we had Mass. Bishop Wall gave a great sermon on how to present ourselves to God in how we pray. He said we should present ourselves with humility, possessing the hospitality of Martha after her conversion of  heart she gained from J­esus’ teachings.

­Top Middle: A close up photo of the beautiful altar in the church – the Franciscans built this church in the 19th Century.

Top Right: One side of the St. Lazarus Church. St. Lazarus, his sisters, Mary to his right, and Martha to his left, are depicted in beautiful mosaics. This is another Antonio Barluzzi designed church.

Bottom Left: Sign pointing us to the tomb from the street.

Bottom Right: Bishop Wall and Ramon start off our last day of the pilgrimage in Bethany, a very, very poor village in horrible condition. There’s a wall that separates Bethany from many fancy Jewish settlements.

Far left: View from inside the Church of St. Lazarus.

Middle Left: Beautiful painting showing Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead.

Middle and far right: Traditional tomb of St. Lazarus.

Lazarus of Bethany, also known as Saint Lazarus or Lazarus of the Four Days, is the subject of a prominent miracle attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of John, in which Jesus restores him to life four days after his death. Jesus did not go immediately to Lazarus’ tomb when he heard that he had died. In the context of the Gospel of John, the narrative of the Raising of Lazarus forms “the climactic sign… Each of Jesus’ seven signs illustrates some particular aspect of his divine authority, but this one exemplifies his power over the last and most irresistible enemy of humanity—death. For this reason it is given a prominent place in the gospel.”

Being in Bethany was wonderful, but it also brought something to my attention. I was very fortunate to see some breathtaking sites on my visit to the Holy Land but I would be remiss if I didn’t show and mention some of the things that I didn’t realize or maybe didn’t care about until I actually saw them. These photos are the Separation Walls built by the Israeli government. I am going to list a little history and you can go online and find more. (Google; Separation Wall, Israel, and you can see for yourself)

The Israeli government revealed its plans in the early part of the 2,000’s for the route of the separation barrier to be built around Jerusalem. It cut East Jerusalem and the largest Israeli settlement in the West Bank off from the rest of the West Bank, and divided Bethlehem. We found this out many times when we had to come and go through armed checkpoints to get into and out of many of the ancient and sacred places we visited. We found out how thousands upon thousands of people are held captive in their own communities.

Christian Aid’s Palestinian and Israeli partners said at the time that the route would jeopardize peace talks and argued that the decision amounted to a unilateral attempt to prejudge the borders of a final solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The Israeli government said the barrier was for security reasons. Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens from attack. But the route of the barrier, snaking deep into the West Bank meant lands claimed by Palestinians for their future state now lie on the Israeli side of the barrier. The issue of East Jerusalem is especially contentious; Palestinians hoped it would someday be the capital of their future state.

The plan, which was authorized by Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister at the time and the Israeli Supreme Court, was condemned worldwide.

The haves and the have nots! Upper left photo is the road going up to a swank Israeli Settlement by Jericho. Notice the tree lined median. All the other photos were taken on our way to Jericho and as we entered Jericho. These photos do not do justice to the horrible and poverty stricken living conditions we saw on the way. Jericho is not allowed any type of city officials or security, hence the reason we saw trash and filth stacked up all over the roads as we came in. It was a very depressive sight.

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid 20th century. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is sometimes also used in reference to the earlier sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine, between the Zionists and the Arabs under British rule. The Israeli–Palestinian conflict has formed the core part of the wider Arab–Israeli conflict.

Despite the long going peace process and the reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final peace agreement. The remaining key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement and finding a resolution to the refugee question. The violence resulting from the conflict has prompted international actions, as well as other security and human rights concerns, both within and between both sides, and internationally. In addition, the violence has curbed expansion of tourism in the region, which is full of historic and religious sites that are of interest to many people around the world. The people in poverty that we saw are caught right in the middle of all this conflict.

Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside an independent Jewish state or next to the State of Israel (after Israel’s establishment in 1948). A considerable majority of the Jewish public sees the Palestinians’ demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. A majority of Palestinians and Israelis view the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an acceptable location of the hypothetical Palestinian state in a two-state solution. Hopefully for the sake of a lot of people, including our bus driver and tour guide, thing will get better. End of lesson!

Top left: Gabriel, the owner of the Tour Company welcomed us to his summer home.

Top middle: Gabriel presented Father Matt Keller with a handmade stole depicting the Franciscan Cross, the cross of the Holy Land.

Top right: A chasuble given to Bishop Wall with the same crosses of the Holy Land.

Bottom left: A beautiful hand carved nativity set that Gabriel gave to Bishop Wall

Bottom right: Our group eating snacks that our host had for us.

This is our wonderful guide and emcee, Rimon Makhlouf, a Palestinian Catholic. If you want more from him go to www.youtube.com/user/ddouriet and he has lectures here. Rimon is waiting at the gate while Bishop Wall and Father Matt give their last thank you and goodbye to our host. Rimon has worked for Gabriel since 1980. He was a blessing to have as a guide.

Jericho is a city located near the Jordan River in the West Bank. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346. The city was occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, and has been held under Israeli occupation since 1967; administrative control was handed over to the Palestinian Authority in 1994. Jericho was the first Arab town in the West Bank to become independent; that came about under the agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Jericho saw increasing development after the agreement and the nearby Mount of Temptation (the traditional site of Jesus’ temptation by Satan) is now accessible by cable car. The economy suffered, however, when Palestinian-Israeli violence again flared beginning in 2000.

The West Bank, in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea; nearby is the site of the ancient city of Jericho. Jericho is an oasis watered by a number of springs, and the town is surrounded by orchards and intensive market gardening; a large part of the population is engaged in agriculture. Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world.

According to the biblical book of Joshua, Jericho was captured from the Canaanites by Joshua and was destroyed, an event several times repeated in its history. One of its conquerors was Herod the Great, who sacked and rebuilt it. Later it was taken by the Muslims. Jericho figures prominently in the Bible. It is known in Judeo-Christian tradition as the place of the Israelitesreturn from bondage in Egypt, led by Joshua, the successor to Moses.

Above, the left photo is the excavation map. The right photo is of ancient ruins.

Excavations of the mound of Tell Es Sultan, the original site, were begun early in the 20th century and have revealed the oldest known settlement in the world, dating perhaps from 9000 BC. Archaeologists have not found evidence of the town of Joshua; ruins identified as such in the 1930s were later identified as older.

Left and middle photos: More ancient ruins in Old Jericho.

Right photo: Cable cars going up to the Greek Orthodox Monastery built into the mountain. The Mount of Temptation is located above the Monastery. This is where tradition says that Jesus was tempted by Satan and it’s the area where Jesus fasted for forty days after being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and then starting his public ministry. Mind boggling to know you are actually here!

We then ate lunch in Jericho and left to go to Qumran and the Dead Sea.

Left photo: Intersection signs we came to, the signs are written in Arabic, Hebrew, and English; top line for the Palestinians, the middle line is for the Israelis, and the bottom line is for English-speakers.

Middle photo: Young date trees. Everywhere we would travel you would see agriculture, some of the areas would have their trees covered with netting to conserve water. There would be hundreds of acres covered with this netting. Israel does not need to import any fresh fruits or vegetables. They are totally self sufficient in agriculture.

Right photo: The small museum of Qumran; we went in here and saw a short movie on how and when they found the scrolls.

The site of Qumran ruins had been occupied at various times in antiquity. At a low level were found the remains of walls and pottery from 8-7th centuries BC. A deep circular cistern also belongs to this period.

In approximately 130 BC new occupants cleared the circular cistern, added two rectangular cisterns, constructed a few rooms, and installed two pottery kilns. 30 years later two- and three-storey buildings were added, and an elaborated water-collecting system was constructed consisting of cisterns connected by channels and supplied by aqueduct from a dam. There is vast evidence that the manuscripts discovered in the Qumran caves belonged to the library of the occupants of the site in this period.

During the Jewish War the place was apparently stormed by Romans and ruined, and then occupied by a Roman garrison for 20 years.

A first-storey room in the southwest part of the building was evidently furnished as a writing-room. Flour mills, a stable, a laundry and various workshops were also uncovered. The occupants apparently aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible. There were apparently no sleeping quarters; tents or caves may have served the occupants for shelter.

These two photos are the ruins of Qumran. The site of Qumran ruins had been occupied at various times in antiquity. At a low level were found the remains of walls and pottery from 8-7th centuries BC. A deep circular cistern also belongs to this period.

In approximately 130 BC new occupants cleared the circular cistern, added two rectangular cisterns, constructed a few rooms, and installed two pottery kilns. 30 years later two- and three-story buildings were added, and an elaborated water-collecting system was constructed consisting of cisterns connected by channels and supplied by an aqueduct from a dam. There is vast evidence that the manuscripts discovered in the Qumran caves belonged to the library of the occupants of the site in this period.

During the Jewish War the place was apparently stormed by Romans and ruined, and then occupied by a Roman garrison for 20 years.

A first-story room in the southwest part of the building was evidently furnished as a writing-room. Flour mills, a stable, a laundry and various workshops were also uncovered.

The occupants apparently aimed to be as self-sufficient as possible. There were apparently no sleeping quarters; tents or caves may have served the occupants for shelter.

Left photo is cave # 4Q at Qumran. The Qumran Caves are a series of caves, some natural, some artificial, found around the archaeological site of Qumran in the Judean Desert. It is in a number of these caves that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.

Right photo: Isaiah scroll discovered at Qumran.

In early 1947, a Bedouin boy of the Ta’amireh tribe, found a cave after searching for a lost animal. He stumbled onto the first cave containing scrolls from two thousand years ago. The more the boy visited the caves, the more scrolls were taken back to their encampment. They were shown to Mar Samuel of the Monastery of Saint Mark in April 1947 and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls was made known. The location of the cave was not revealed for another 18 months, but eventually a joint investigation of the cave site was led by Franciscan Father de Vaux. 230 natural caves, crevices and other possible hiding places were examined over the years, only 40 contained any artifacts.

The last cave containing scrolls to be found, once again by the Ta’amireh tribe, was 11Q. Among its contents was the Temple Scroll, though it had been spirited away and its recovery was to prove long and complex. It is one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It describes a Jewish temple which has never been built along with extensive detailed regulations about sacrifices and temple practices. The document is written in the form of a revelation from God to Moses, thereby with the intended meaning that this is the more appropriate temple which was revealed to Moses, and that Moses’ instructions were either forgotten or ignored when Solomon built the First Temple in Jerusalem. In other words, in the mind of the Scroll writer, “Solomon should actually have built the First Temple as it is described here in the Temple Scroll”.

4Q, which is now visible from the Qumran ruins, is actually two caves, one adjacent to the other. Father De Vaux referred to them as 4a and 4b. When the Ta’amireh removed all the fragments they could before the arrival of an expert, there was no way to tell which scrolls belonged to which cave, so they were later all catalogued simply as from 4Q. In excavating the caves hundreds of fragments were still to be found in 4a while only two or three fragments in 4b.

 

Left photo is an abandoned Jordanian Army outpost. We saw these and abandoned Jordanian bunkers that they literally got up and left behind during the six day war with Israel. I pointed out earlier in this booklet all the problems that have arisen since 1947 when Israel came back into existence so there is no need to go into any further discussion. Jordan used to own the land by the Dead Sea. 60% of the land became the West Bank. In 1999 at Camp David Arafat wouldn’t sign because Israel wouldn’t give this land back!

Right photo: A beautiful view of the Dead Sea. Work is in progress for a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea. Rimon told us that the Dead Sea was 42 mi. long in 1974; it is now 32.5 mi. long now. When we were at the ruins of Tell Es Sultan in Jericho, Rimon told us that when it was inhabited hundreds of years ago, the Dead Sea was within a short walking distance, it is miles away now. It was fun for all of us who went swimming (floating) in the Dead Sea. You know when you are told when you travel you are told “don’t drink the water,” well you will learn that the hard way in the Dead Sea if you take a sip!!

Left photo is the Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center. We celebrated Bishop James Wall’s birthday on the penthouse floor of this beautiful building. We had an extraordinary view of Jerusalem. It was the perfect ending, to a perfect pilgrimage, to a perfect place, with the perfect Spiritual Director. God Bless you Bishop Wall. You brought out the best in all of us as Catholics on this pilgrimage and you made each one of us holier and more Christian, than we were before. 

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