Today we started out early once again to check out of our hotel and get on the road to Jerusalem. We left the hotel at 7:45 and beat the heat the best we could. By the time we reached Jericho, it was over 100 degrees. An interesting fact is Jericho is the lowest point on earth and they say that due to the density of the air, it is not possible to get a sunburn.
What was striking about crossing over to Palestine was the poverty. There are many lean-to-type housing compounds scattered throughout the landscape. Garbage is just everywhere. Soldiers that are fully armed are also commonplace. While we were in Jericho, we had several low-level flyovers with fighter jets. I don’t know who they belonged to. That clearly changes your perspective of where you are visiting when you see and hear them multiple times.
Jordan River – Qasr Al-Yahud Baptismal Site
Qasr al-Yahud is the western section of the traditional site of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist on the Jordan River. It has also been traditionally identified with two episodes from the Hebrew Bible, as one of the possible points through which the Israelites crossed the Jordan River as they reached the Promised Land, and as the site where the prophet Elijah ascended to heaven. “Qasr al-Yahud” is actually an Arabic name given to the nearby Monastery of St John the Baptist, but is also being used for the West Bank section of the baptism site itself.
Since the Six-Day War in 1967, the baptism site has been under Israeli occupation, and the site and facilities are currently administered by the Israeli Civil Administration and the Israeli Ministry of Tourism as part of a national park, where baptism ceremonies can be performed.
Jericho is a Palestinian city in the West Bank. It is located in the Jordan Valley, with the Jordan River to the east and Jerusalem to the west. It is the administrative seat of the Jericho Governorate of the State of Palestine and is governed by the Palestinian National Authority as part of Area A. In 2007, it had a population of 18,346.
Jericho is claimed to be the oldest city in the world, and it is also the city with the oldest known protective wall. Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of more than 20 successive settlements in Jericho, the first of which dates back 11,000 years (to 9000 BCE), almost to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of the Earth’s history. Copious springs in and around the city have attracted human habitation for thousands of years. Jericho is described in the Bible as the “city of palm trees”.
Mount of Temptation is a mountain over the town of Jericho in the Judean Desert, in the West Bank. Ancient Christian tradition identifies it as the location of the temptation of Jesus described in the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in which it is said that, from “a high place”, the Devil offered Jesus rule over all the kingdoms of the world.
Since at least the 4th century, Christian tradition has specifically associated the forty days of Jesus’s fasting that preceded his temptation with a cave on Jebel Quruntul. Eventually, it came to be associated with the high mountain in the Gospel’s description of temptation.
Bethany or what is locally known as Al-Eizariya or al-Azariya, is a Palestinian town in the West Bank. The name al-Eizariya refers to the New Testament figure Lazarus of Bethany, who according to the Gospel of John, was raised from the dead by Jesus. The traditional site of the miracle, the Tomb of Lazarus, in the city is a place of pilgrimage.
The town is located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives, less than 2 miles from Jerusalem.
The church also has an old convent that is part of the grounds. Since the land at that time was more open and farmland, the convent made olive oil from the trees on the property. The original olive oil press still stands in the production room dating back to the fourth century.