This was our third visit to Neot Qedumim, a biblical nature park and reserve that features flora and even some fauna from the Bible, with the stated purpose of helping visitors see, feel, smell, and even taste the world of the Bible. One of the great things about having been here for almost an entire year now is that I have been able to visit the park in all the seasons. See links from our previous visits to see how Neot Qedumim looked in the fall, when much of the fruit was ripe (and when, for instance, we ate pomegranates right off the tree) or in the early spring after the winter rains, when the fields were and hillside were a rich green and the almond trees were flowering. This was no doubt our hottest and driest visit, but it was right after the barley and wheat harvests.
|My students gather with our guide, Patrick, at the beginning of our tour.|
|It was our hottest day so far, so here Alvin Green and I sport standard-issue plain white t-shirts. Yes, he is pretty tall.|
|Even when the grass is dry, the thistle flowers still add a splash of color|
|A caper bush|
Herding Sheep and Goats
One of our students' favorite activities is when they split into teams and take turns trying their hands at herding.
|The sun shines through the branches of a tamarsik tree|
|Discussion of cisterns and water storage|
|Susan Bell plays Rivka (Rebecca), drawing water for Eleazar and his camels---not an easy job!|
|More beautiful flowers in a dry landscape|
|Nancy Jackson holds a branch of hyssop|
|Hyssop: used to pain the blood of the first paschal sacrifice on the door posts, used in purification ceremonies, ostensibly (but probably more correctly symbolically) used in John 19:29 to lift a wine-sodden sponge to Jesus' lips on the cross|
|Grinding hyssop into za'atar, a fragrant and strong spice|
|Susan and Avery grinding away|
|The fruit of the sycamore tree, which is actually a kind of fig|
|Our very own Nate McMaster climbed into a sycamore tree to play Zacchaeus (see Luke 19:1-10)|
|Patrick demonstrates how the reed can bend and break yet remain sharp, threatening to cut one's hand. See Isaiah 36:6 where the prophet compares Egypt to a broken reed|
For lunch we made and baked our own pita bread, parched grain or qālî (see Ruth 3:14), and lentil soup.
|Hey! This is pita, not pizza!|
|Patrick parching the grain|
"Give us this day our daily bread" does not seem so easy when one remembers all the stages of ploughing, sewing, reaping, threshing, winnowing, and grinding that is involved just to get flour!
|It takes two people to use this plow . . . and would be easier in the late fall when the ground was a bit wetter!|
|Pulling the threshing sledge|
|A winnowing fork and pan|
A Torah scribe at work
What does this have to do with a biblical nature reserve? All of the ingredients for the kosher ink come from here!