Today we packed our bags and departed the Holy City, heading north to Galilee. We drove through the Jordan Rift Valley, following the ancient pilgrim route along the course of the Jordan River. Driving up the beautiful and strategically important Jezreel Valley we came to Nazareth, perched on the northern ridge of the valley. Modern Nazareth is a large Palestinian city, but in the time of Jesus it was a small and somewhat insignificant village.
We visited the modern Church of the Annunciation, which is built over and preserves the ruins of three previous churches, a Jewish Christian Synagogue, and a first-century home which has consistently been identified as the boyhood home of Jesus. Unlike many other traditional sites related to the early years of Jesus, this site has a high degree of probability to be historically accurate. Outside the Church we visited the ancient remains of the first-century village and were literally looking at the place where Jesus grew up!
We visited "Nazareth Village," an archaeologically accurate reconstruction of village life from the time of Jesus. There we learned about various aspects of daily life that would have shaped Jesus' boyhood in this place. One of the goats from their herd had just given birth to a new kid only minutes before we arrived!
We enjoyed demonstrations of the kinds of work that went on in the village of Nazareth at the time of Jesus, including carpentry and weaving. Jesus' family were builders ("teknon") and would have had a thriving business as Herod Antipas was enthusiastically expanding his nearby capital city of Sepphoris.
We concluded our big day with a visit to the huge archaeological excavation at Sepphoris. This was a booming cosmopolitan city made up primarily of Jews who had adopted many aspects of Roman culture. This is where the teenage Jesus would have come on a daily basis with his father and brothers to make a living building the many stone structures that earned this city the nickname "The Ornament of All Galilee."
At sunset we arrived at our guesthouse on the northshore of the beautiful lake we call the Sea of Galilee! Looking forward to exploring the new home Jesus established here and the family on mission he built to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to the world ....