Holy Land Pilgrimage and Biblical Archeology

 

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"AND JUDAH AND ISRAEL DWELT SAFELY,  
 EACH MAN UNDER HIS VINE AND HIS FIG,
FROM DAN AS FAR AS BEERSHEBA,
      ALL THE DAYS OF SOLOMON
”                
                    FIRST KINGS 4                         
                                                   

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

 
Imagine:  for the forty years of Solomon’s reign, a Danite and his family could sit in the shade of their grape arbors and face Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon) to the northwest and Aram-Damascus (Syria) to the northeast, without having to duck missiles.  Just kidding of course about the missiles, but this passage makes clear that during all the days of Solomon, the northern border was secure.
 
A century later, however, about 853 B.C., Ahab, king of Israel fortified Dan with a wall that stands in some places ten feet tall to this very day.  This fortification was apparently deemed necessary, despite Ahab’s alliance by marriage with the Phoenicians.  Remember, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, who invited the prophets of Baal to dine at her royal table, was the princess of Sidon.
 

Map showing Dan and Phoenician cities

Adapted from Bible Mapper by itsGila

Map showing Dan (once Laish) and Phoenician cities Tyre and Sidon

 
When we visit Dan on tour, one of our highlights is sitting on the steps of the platform presumed to be the altar to the golden calf.  We open our Bible to First
Kings 12 and read about the golden calf and pilgrimage to Dan.  Afterwards, following the line of Ahab’s 9th century B.C. wall, we skirt the pre-1967 trenches to reach the northern overlook.
 

Altar at Dan where golden calf once stood

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

High altar at Dan, Israel's northern border

 

Altar at Dan as seen from the trenches

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

High altar at Dan as seen from the trenches

 

Looking at Lebanon from above the trenches at Dan

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Looking at Lebanon from above the trenches at Dan

 
It’s a singular view towards modern-day Lebanon to the west and the Golan Heights to the east.  The story of the capture of the village of Ghajjar by Israel in 1967, one of those amazing incidents that it seems can happen only in Israel, conjures up visions of the ancient conquest of Dan.  That’s when the people of Laish, as Dan was called by the Canaanites, were lulled into a false sense of security, for they had no relations with anyone and were far from Sidon. (Judges 18:7, 28)
 

Israelii held Golan Heights, formerly Syria, as seen from Dan

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Golan Heights (formerly Syria) as seen from Dan

 
In the Book of Genesis we read that when Jacob lay on his deathbed, he called his sons before him.  To Dan, the son of Rachel’s maid-servant, he bestowed the following blessing, “Dan shall be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider falls backward.” (Genesis 49:17)
 
This sounds a bit obscure unless you know that Dan was strategically positioned overlooking the highway Isaiah called the Way of the Sea, (the Via Maris) which connected the Nile Delta with the Fertile Crescent between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.  Some Bible scholars have called Israel “the land between,” that is, the land between the two great ancient civilizations, Egypt and Mesopotamia.
 

At Dan with the Israel-Lebanon border behind Gila

Photo:  Rev. Darrell Mount

At Dan with the Israel-Lebanon border behind Gila

 
When you next come to Dan with me, hopefully in the near future, don’t forget to bring your Bible! So much modern history has biblical undertones and you’ll gain unparalleled insights into biblical geography.  In the meantime, let’s remember the blessing upon Dan’s great-grandfather, as recorded in Genesis 12:
 

“I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

On your next pilgrimage, be sure to allow enough time at Dan because there’s lots to see and experience -- the gushing Dan springs, Jereboam's high altar for the golden calf, Ahab's benches for the elders, the pistachio tree lookout and the spectacular mud-brick gate from the time of Abraham.
 

Dan Excavator Abraham Biran answering Gila's questions July 1996

Photo by A Pilgrim on tour with Gila

Dan Excavator Avraham Biran answering Gila's questions July 1996

 

Copyright 2006, 2016 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.

 

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Gila Yudkin is a Connecticut-born Yankee living in King Solomon's court.  Gila has been guiding Dan for more than three decades and it is, in fact, her favorite site in the entire country.  On tour, Gila mixes fun, facts and fantasy with her passion for archeology and Bible.

 
More Biblical Archeology in northern Israel:
 

Let's look for the clay tablet treasure at Hazor

Let's ramble through Hippos, a Decapolis city

Let's consider whether Jesus ever visited Sepphoris

Joshua at Hazor    

Hippos, a Decapolis city

  Hypocrites at Sepphoris

     

Let's follow Abraham all the way to DAN

Let's talk about Armageddon at Megiddo

Let's gather by Bethsaida's city gate

Abraham at Dan   

Megiddo / Armageddon

  Bethsaida

 
"Let's survey the northern border at DAN" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free quarterly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" please contact Gila. 


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

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Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin