Field Study

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Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Thursday, September 20, 2012

So, as per request of some of my readers (i.e. mom and dad) I will be trying to give a better rundown of the areas that I have been visiting on my field studies. For those of you who do not know, the field studies are all day field trips we take to different areas of Israel to get a first hand view of the topics we have been talking about in class and to get better insight into what may be shaping the characters and stories of the Bible. This past field study was to the Land of Benjamin for a close up look at the importance of this tribes land to Jerusalem.

Now before I get into the study we have to know a little about Benjamin. This land lies smack in the middle of Israel, both East-West and North-South. It also is home to the Central Benjamin Plateau and the Emmek which are relatively flat areas in this incredibly hilly region of Cenomanian limestone. Both of these factors play into the importance of Benjamin because they allow for the abundance of roads that run through the territory. Benjamin is home to the main North-South highway of the center of Israel, the Patriarchal Highway which runs right past Jerusalem, and a number of East-West highways such as the Taiybe, the Way of the Wilderness, and the Beit Horon Ridge Route, all of which connect the land to both sides of the nation from Gezer to Jericho. Now Jerusalem relies heavily on these roads because she is so very isolated and needs to be in control of these roads in order to survive on top of be a good capital for the nation (see Joshua 10 to see how important holding Gibeon and Ai, to big cities controlling the roads, was to Jerusalem). Therefore our field study took us all over Benjamin looking at these roads.

We went from Jerusalem down into the Kelt Waddi system (a waddi is a valley that is formed by rain run off and fills with torrents of water every time it rains) following the Ascent of Adduim which is the road that connects Jerusalem to Jericho. We hiked through the Kelt Canyon which goes right through the wilderness, the same wilderness Jesus was tempted in and John the Baptist lived in for a while. It is an incredibly rugged and nasty place, somewhere I would not like to spend more than a few hours in. It is also so very quiet because of the lack of life. This is also most likely the setting for the Good Samaritan story. It is a harsh place and forms one of the borders, or walls, for Jerusalem

After this we went to Jericho to look at the ruins of the city. It is a lovely place because it is an oasis, due to a spring that pumps out hundreds of gallons of fresh water a day. It is a sight for sore eyes in this area of near desert! We went from Jericho up the Taiybe ridge route, towards Ai and Bethel and stopped to check out the Emmek. The Emmek is the first area of relatively (though not really) flat land where you can sort of do crops. This was important to Joshua who needed a staging area to attack the interior of Canaan. From here we traveled up the Central Benjamin Plateau, which is actually kinda flat, to see the areas of farming and the important roads that run through the land. It is easy to see why the king of Jerusalem would have been upset at hearing he had lost this land to Joshua because this meant he was a sitting duck in Jerusalem. This is why he called together his coalition of ruling kings to attack the Gibeonites in Joshua chapter 10.

After this we traveled over to Gezer, or what used to be Gezer, to see the far edge of the land of Benjamin. This was a very important city because it was the city that linked the interior of the Judean to the coastal plain, and the king's Highway. This is important because the best way to make money in ancient Israel is through taxing this highway (which is the best land route between Egypt and the rest of the world. If you wanted to have good income in Jerusalem you needed to control this highway and in turn this city of Gezer! We do have archaeological evidence that Solomon did own this city which would go a long way to explaining some of his wealth. 

That was a very broad and not in depth look at my latest field study,however, I will have a few pictures posted along with this to make up for the lack of detail. I told my parents, if I were to write even half of the things I am learning I would never be finished writing! Hopefully the pictures will lead to a little better understanding of the world I am in than my poor writing will.

I myself am doing outstanding! I had my first exam and did very well and am loving my classes and professors. There are so many hard questions I am dealing with here but they are very good to have to struggle through! Just beware, when I get back many of you will be asked the same questions I have been working on and it may rock your boat a little so you are forewarned!

Blessings from Across the Way,
Nate
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