Page 13

beneath layers of occupation in ancient tels, others sticking up through the dirt and sands or uncovered by bulldozers clearing for new building projects. This historical line of con­ sciousness extends further back in time there than we are used to conceiving in this country . Here we visit sites during our bicenten­ nial celebrations with historical as sociations that may date back two to four hundred years. There we visit sites with history dating back to the days of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians with artifacts and buildings that make Byzantine, Crusader, or Arab re­ mains seem relatively recent. In the J o r d a n v a l l e y e a s t o f Jerusalem is found the mound of the oldest known city in the world, Tel Es Sultan dating back to about the eighth millenium B.C., known to us as Jericho. Walking over the ruins of an­ cient tels and following the cara­ van routes winding through the hills we are reminded of the kings and armies who came and con­ quered, left the imprints of their cultures, and passed on. Now with the aid of the pick and trowel and especially the refined interpre­ tive knowledge of the archeolog­ ist, even the stones are able to tell the story of the passing of civiliza­ tions. A Land of Contrasts

Striking changes and contrasts hit us as we crossed the land and visited with the people. The land itself varies greatly from one area to another, as noted by moving from Dan in the north to Beer Sheba in the south. These cities were on the extremities of the traditional borders of Biblical Is­ rael, during the days of the monarchy as indicated by the phrase "from Dan to Beer Sheba," yet they lie only 1 50 miles apart. At the foot of Mt. Hermon and alongside a bubbling spring which is one of the main sources of the Jordan River, Dan exhibits the lush vegetation and ample small wildlife that have led it to be set aside as a nature preserve. Beer Sheba designated the southern extremity of the Biblical land because it lay on the boundary between the " sown" (tillable

farmland) and the southern wil­ derness, suitable only for grazing flocks and travel by camel. Here the inhabitants feel the heat of the sun both summer and winter. The green of the north has given way to the brown tones of the wilder­ ness, and travel is precarious even with provision for food and shelter. The forty inch annual rainfall of Dan is a luxury com­ pared with the eight or so inches at Beer Sheba, and only deep cisterns can provide water to support life over the long, dry months of summer, supplemented now by that piped in from the upper Jordan. The people provide even more striking contrasts. The Arabs who have lived on the land for cen­ turies follow the slow relaxed pace of the Middle East and other hot climates. Business in the mar­ ket comes after Turkish coffee and conversation. Visiting in the home involves a whole evening of gracious hospitality with plenty of time to enjoy the various de­ licacies of supper and everyone's company. Business deals are often extended over long periods so that even in the shrewdest bargain the bargaining may be more important than the final price or barter. Many Israeli leaders have come from Western countries, bringing with them scientific training and technological know-how. This background in thought and temp­ erament is supplemented by the image of a very activist people. Their driving, sometimes aggres­ sive and brash, temper cover an open sympathetic interest in people and thus has been likened to the native prickly pear of the land, the sabra. The hard, prickly outer surface of this fruit covers a soft interior and from this it has become the name of the Israeli natives of the land.

4) A land of history: From the Mount of Olives one looks over the Garden of Gethsemane and Kid­ ron Valley to the "old city" of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, with the silver dome of the EI Aksa Mosque and golden Dome of the Rock. Jewish tradition iden­ tified this site with Moriah and Abrahm's sacrifice of Isaac. On the T e m p le Mount, Solomon erected the first temple, later destroyed by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt later that century, was enlarged by Herod the Great and finally destroyed by the Ro­ mans in 70 A.D. Throughout its existence the temple was the central shrine for worship, pray­ er, sacrifice and pilgrimage. The large rock under the golden dome was the base on which was built the Holy of Holies of the sanc­ tuary or the Altar of Whole Burnt Offerings. The ornate dome and shrine were built over the rock in the 7th century by Muslim faith­ ful to commemorate Moham­ med's ascension to heaven.

A Land of Devotion

Sights and sounds, and even the smells of deep piety are found throughout the land. Traditional religious Jews closely follow the strictures against work on the Sabbath, from before sundown on Friday til after sundown on Satur­ day. They also observe the rules of kosher diet. They are to be seen praying at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, at the traditional tomb of David outside the Zion gate of the old city of Jerusalem, and on Friday evenings and Satur­ days walking to and from services in the synagogues. An especially p i c t u r esqu e a r e a is M e ' a h

Shearim ("100 Gates"), a very

orthodox quarter in Jerusalem. Here the religious population has retained its traditional religious way of life and dress. The men have long beards and side curls and wear round fur-bordered hats and black coats and trousers, all symbolizing their deep religious commitment. Throughout the West Bank and parts of Israel devout Muslims are to be seen going to the mosque five times a day in answer to the call of the minaret. Occasionally at a tourist sight out in the coun­ tryside you will see a Muslim stretch · out his personal prayer rug at one of the appointed hours for his regular prayers. It is the smaller Christian com­ munities that provide the multico­ lored apparel and the incense odors of worship. In the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre many cen­ turies of Christian worship come (Continued on Page 14)

4)

1977 v 57 no 1 3,5 6  
1977 v 57 no 1 3,5 6