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Israel

hills and The Holy Land reflects stru ggles of ancient, modern peoples at the crossroads of the world By John E. Petersen Come with us for a few minutes to the land where we lived for a year and came to love. After walking over the hills and valleys, through the villages and shops, into holy places and homes, it quickly gripped us with its own fascination and power. During the short year we lived there, south of Jerusalem on the outskirts of Bethlehem, we came to know it as a land of ages-old history, stark contrasts, deep piety and devo­ tion, and ongoing struggle. Here are some of the vivid images of life there that have remained with us since returning six months ago and call us to return when we can. A Land of History From the deep cleft of the Jordan valley to the dark blue Mediterranean, from the snowy

1) A land of struggle: "The land yields a living only with the sweat of the brow," as tbis Arab farmer turns tbe soU in thE� manner of his ancestors.

2) A land of contrasts: "From the snowy slopes of Mt. Hermon" and the fertile Hula Valley, left, to a desolate wadi in the Sinai.

3) A land of devotion: 'On Palm Sunday Christian pil grims leave 8etbphage for Jerusalem, retrac­ ing the path of Jesus at the time of his triumphal entry. 2)

slopes of Hermon to the desolate wadis of Sinai, the hills and stones speak of thousands of years of occupation. Lying astride ancient trade routes between Egypt and Mesopotamia, the country was fought over for at least two thousand years before the coming of Joshua and the invading Israel­ ites. Following the occupation o f Canaanites and Israelites it has seen the coming of Assyrians, B ab ylonians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans of the ancient world. They were followed by the Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, a n d M am e l u k e s o f the m edieval period as well as the Turks, Briti sh and Jews of the modern period. Each of these peoples and civilizations has left signs of its tenure on the land, some buried

a .,

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