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A Day on the Cross Roads of Civilization

I woke up early, 5:30 AM after a sound sleep. Felt great. Took a walk about the block, took in some strange looks. Returned them with smiles and sometimes a greeting. They were always returned in kind.

Though we were given a generous opportunity to ‘buffet our bodies,’ I opted for a small bowl of oats and two cups of some very strong coffee. From there, onto the bus where we first took in the Jabboks River.

The Jabbok is mentioned 7 times in the Bible. This stream, which intersects the mountain range of Gilead, and falls into the Jordan on the east about midway between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, literally means ’emptying.’ It is here that Genesis 32:22 describes Jacob becoming Israel after fording this narrow river. It is unfortunately fouled now.

teen girl squad by JabbockThere is a picture in the photo gallery where the ‘Teen Girl Squad’ are posing about a blue sign which translates a warning not to go near the polluted water. Nonetheless, it was worth walking along the same grounds where Jacob became Israel.

From there, we took a drive to the Decapolis Cities of Um Quais and Jerash. It was in the ‘Ten Cities’ that both Matthew 4:25; Mark 5:20 detail several instances of Jesus teaching and performing miracles. It is also near Um Qais, known as Gadara back in the time of Matthew 8:28-34, that Jesus cast the spirits of Legion into a herd of swine.

What I found interesting was the excavated site of a church floor. A church built OVER the tombs in which the man with the unclean spirits lived. We took some pictures inside the tomb. I then bumped my head on the way out. Don’t worry, the stone walls that have lasted earthquakes and wars withstood my thick skull.

Strong Bad and Strong Mad overlooking the Golan HeightsWe also snuck in a picture of Strong Bad and Strong Mad with the Golan Heights as their backdrop.

Being a history buff, I let some soil from Jerash sift through my fingers. The significance being that this dirt was located at the “the Cross Roads of Civilization” because of its unbroken chain of human occupation. Here, in the Hills of Gilead, there lie the ruins of civilizations dating as far back as Neolithic time. Interesting I suppose, but of greater interest to me was the fact that just about every great empire of the ancient world was required to pass here. Including such notables as the Greeks, Romans, Byzantine, and Omayyads

In fact, after a wonder lunch … where I enjoyed even more eggplant, we climbed up the Citadel for a view of the “City of the Seven Hills,” otherwise known as Amman. It was here atop the Citadel that columns of an old Roman temple still stand. Nearby, I tested my pipes out in a still-in-use Roman Amphitheater carved out of a hillside. The tailend of the aria Si Puo from I Pagliacci. Brilliant acoustics. Hearing for the rest of the tour group returned after 10 minutes.

Now off to dinner and then some shopping. Must remember to buy stuff for spousal unit or not bother showing up at home.

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