Harmon River Springs/Caesarea Philippi
The first stop on day 4 was the Harmon River Springs. It is one of two rivers that feed the Jordan and very likely the spot where Jesus told Peter, "Upon this rock I will build my Church." I found this summary on the internet and the explanation is better than anything I could write so here it is:
Caesarea Philippi, which stood in a lush area near the foot of Mount Harmon, was a city dominated by immoral activities and pagan worship. Caesarea Philippi's location was especially unique because it stood at the base of a cliff where spring water flowed. At one time, the water ran directly from the mouth of a cave set in the bottom of the cliff.
To the pagan mind, the cave and spring water at Caesarea Philippi created a gate to the underworld. They believed that their city was literally at the gates of the underworld—the gates of hell. In order to entice the return of their god, Pan, each year, the people of Caesarea Philippi engaged in horrible deeds, including prostitution and sexual interaction between humans and goats.
When Jesus brought his disciples to the area, they must have been shocked. Caesarea Philippi was like a red-light district in their world and devout Jews would have avoided any contact with the despicable acts committed there.
Standing near the pagan temples of Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples "Who do you say that I am?" Peter boldly replied, "You are the Son of the living God." Jesus continued, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (see Matt. 16:13-20).
The Temple to Pan
More of the temple ruins.
Standing above the Harmon River was Mount Harmon, the highest point in Israel at 9,000 feet. There was debate whether the Transfiguration happened there or on the top of Mount Tabor. At some point, the Church chose Mt. Tabor as the official site so that a shrine could be built. Personally, it seems more plausible that it was Mount Harmon.
Our next stop: Jerusalem! Along the way we passed Mount Tabor, the desert where the Israelites wandered around for 40 years and the camps of the Bedwins. The Bedwins are a tribe in Israel whom live in little settlements. They have no identity and no way of getting any identification. Fifty years ago the government tried to blend them into society. Some did, but others refused and live without running water and in tents to this day. The Bedwins used to be a nomadic people, but obviously the Jewish government will not allow them to camp out wherever they want anymore. The settlements are in a permanent location now. Nasser explained that one man is the ruler of the camp. He has multiple wives, multiple children and within the camps there is no education or health care and a great deal of filth and incest. Totally mind boggling and sad! As I watched the dirt stained face of a little boy running amongst the goats in ramshackle fences, I wondered what his life was like? And how heart breaking, that even if that little boy wanted to better himself it would be totally impossible.
AJ......you never would have made it for 40 years!