By Lisa Penza
Travel is a linear experience, one which keeps us in the here and now. We see the modern cities as they currently are, and enjoy the ruins of what once was. Stories of some of these ancient ruins exist in similarly ancient texts, like those of Plato’s tales of the once legendary and now very real city of Troy. For a truly, shall we say, biblical experience one has to look no further than Israel and its incredible archeological sites.
What sets Israel aside from other sites is that its ancient stories are catalogued quite well in the Bible. Coming from a completely academic standpoint, the Bible offers accounts of the people in these pre-modern era times and gives detailed descriptions of sites and occurrences. Using the Bible as a tool, archeologists have uncovered and identified many extraordinary sites.
Unlike most ancient cities, in which the modern city is built around the existing structure from it’s days of yore, the biblical city of Jerusalem actually exists outside the walls of it’s contemporary counterpart. When visiting Jerusalem, it’s crucial to visit this incredible ancient city and walk in the footsteps of those who came before us. A recent discovery, the biblical Pool of Siloam – as described in John 9:7 as the place where Jesus Christ healed the blind – has been unearthed, along with a route that is also described from the pool to Temple Mount. Quite literally, one can walk in the footsteps of Christ along this path as it once was over 2000 years ago. More than just an experience for the religious, this is an incredible experience for the history buff.
More and more is being uncovered every day, and we are learning so much about life in these ancient times. Being able to corroborate stories between the Bible and what has been unearthed gives a new dimension to these digs and much context to what is being found. At a recent event, Director of the Israel Government Tourist Office Shahar Shilo described a bell being found within an ancient temple. Being able to return to the Bible described the purpose of this bell – those who entered the temple had to do so alone and wore bells to alert the people on the outside if there was a problem. This extra layer of story makes each discovery all the more fascinating and breathes life into both the book and the artifacts.
Visiting Israel is an experience in both today and a step into the past. With each new discovery, we learn more about where we’ve come from. Be a part of the discovery process!