Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jericho and the West Bank

On Monday we went on a field trip..."down from Jerusalem to Jericho". It was only about 20 minutes away, but the landscape looked totally different. And it is definitely "down." Jericho is 3500 feet below Jerusalem. We saw a sign when we passed below sea level.

This is what I always pictured in my head when I thought of Israel. Desert! It turns out that the whole country definitely does not look like this, but some of it does.

We stopped here at this lookout before getting to the city of Jericho to talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan, because the story takes place on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. So please feel free to picture this lovely barren landscape the next time you read that story.

Then we continued on to the city of Jericho, which is an ancient archeological site and a modern city. We visited the ruins of the ancient city. There wasn't a lot to see there, but one interesting thing was seeing the oldest man-made structure ever discovered in the world. There is a tower that was built in 9000 B.C. To me, it was surprising not only that you can still see ruins from that long ago; but that people were building things that long ago.

The tower: (it's the big round brick thing in the middle)

Side note, usually cities rise over time. To find ancient cities archeologists have to dig deep underground. I say that because it doesn't look like a tower since it's deep in the ground :)

Sadly, there aren't any ruins of the wall that came down. But don't worry: the relevant Veggie Tales song still popped into my head.

Besides being in the Bible, Jericho's two claims to fame are being both the oldest and the lowest city in the world.

This convenient sign points that out.

The most interesting thing about being in Jericho to me is that we went to the West Bank for the first time. The only other time we're allowed to go there is when we go to Bethlehem. 

Here's a map of where the West Bank is. You can find Jerusalem and Jericho on the map.

This and the Gaza Strip was the land allotted to the Arabs that lived in Palestine by the U.N. in 1948 (although it's gotten smaller through various wars). By the way, the term 'West Bank' refers to the West Bank of the Jordan River.

Israel technically has overriding control over the whole area, but the Palestinian Authority has full or partial control (depending on the area) over the West Bank. So in some ways it feels like you're in a different country there.

When you enter the West Bank, there's a big red sign that says "No entrance to Israelis. Your lives are in danger." That's not concerning at all, right? Because we all know that Americans are probably not that much more beloved here than Israelis. 

The West Bank seems pretty similar to East Jerusalem. It looks a little sad and neglected. 

One little difference is that signs are only in Arabic/English, and don't include Hebrew like they do in Jerusalem.

Well, that sums up my day in the lowest city on earth. Besides learning a lot more about Bible stories, I'm also enjoying learning more about the political situation here.

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