Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jericho and Judean Wilderness, this time with students

Today we took our students to Jericho and the Judean Wilderness. If you have been following the blog, this sounds familiar, because this is where we went with our wives on the pre-trip last week. But while our preparatory trips can be a more academic and in-depth visits to the sites, going with students is what the program is all about.

With our students we teach.  With our students we sing and feel.  With our students we experience the sites, and it is akin to pilgrimage, the experience that Jewish, Christian, and Muslim visitors to this land have been having for centuries.

So some of the pictures below may look familiar, but I think that you will agree that with students in them, they are a lot more fun!

It is hard to see in this picture, but the ruins of Herod's Winter palace in Jericho are on the mound in the middle, below the modern green house.  I did my historical lecture from this vantage point, after which we sang "God of Our Fathers, Known of Old."  The Kipling lyrics were perfect for this opulent palace that was now a heap of ruins: "The captains and the kings depart . . . on dune and headland sinks the fire. Lo, all our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre."

The peristyle court of Herod's palace

And some of our students having a little fun

A goat came to check out what we were doing, really!

After touring Tel es-Sultan, the archaeological mound that constitutes the remnants of old Jericho, we did something we did not do last week.  We went down and around to Ein es-Sultan, the spring of Jericho also known as Elisha's spring.

Drinking from Elisha's spring

The modern water works.  The vast majority of the water is immediately piped to supply the needs of modern Jericho and to support the agriculture of the region

Above St. George's Monastery in the Judean Wilderness, we read the account of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness from Matthew 4 and sang "More Holiness Give Me."

Some remains of a Roman aqueduct can be seen at the top of the wadi

The ubiquitous bedouin vendors made a few shekels off of our students.  Here Michael-Sean Covey tries riding a donkey

The new Mary and Joseph?


  1. Love reading your posts Eric. Do the students still walk the 20+ miles to Jericho? Is there still the no-dating rule? Just curious...

  2. Alicia, since the Second Intifadeh, the west bank is not as secure as it used to be, so the hike all the way down from Jerusalem has been cancelled. The best we can do is to hike a stretch of ridge. The "no dating" rule has been modified. No PDA in the center and of course not in the city. People may "pair off," but since they cannot leave the city in groups of less than 3, there is not much read dating.

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  4. Today the are no problems to visit Herods 3rd Palace. Be friendly to the farmers and everything will be ok. Start in Jericho by the Terra Sancta School and follow the sign to Tulul Abu el-Alayiq. It is called Area C but surrounded by Area A. The agriculture is a problem and they sometimes destroy the ruins. Since some weeks there are signs, so that without an excavation report you can see, what buidings here stood in anient times.
    See a very good video here: