Starting a trip to Israel. For most Chinese people, Israel is a land of mystery. I was mostly concerned with safety issues before I left for this country. My team chose to travel via EL AL Israel Airline because it was the only flight that went straight to Israel. My first reaction was, would it really be safe to travel on this airline, run by a country with great political sensitivity? My mind even wandered to the potential threat of missiles. However, my experience completely changed my opinion of the Israel Airline. Having gone through the most careful scrutinization and strict procedures before flight took off, I was convinced that they are definitely one of the safest airlines in the world!
The Sea of Galilee! It is one of the most important places in the Bible; many events involving Jesus took place here. I was surprised to see that the “Sea” was actually more like a lake. Later I met a translator of Bible, from whom I learned that in Hebrew the place was originally named as a lake rather than sea. Translating is a great challenge, especially from Hebrew because this source language contains many words that have multiple meanings, and it is hard to find equivalents in the target language. The Christian translators around the world have taken great pains in interpreting His words, and they have been so careful not to misinterpret anything. But variation in meanings is unavoidable in translation because of the differences across cultures. So we must learn more about the Jewish language, history and culture to understand things from the Bible.
Church of Annuciation, Nazareth, Israel. It was built in commemoration of Immaculate Conception reported by Gabriel to Maria — His Son is to be born! The earliest building here is a church built in the 1st Century, and the historical foundation of the church can still be found there. Later the church has been rebuilt for three times, and the one we see right now is from the mid-20 century. On the walls and doors are painting of the stories of Jesus. Paintings of Maria and Jesus from different churches are preciously stored there.
Where the Jews lived in 1st century. Nazareth. In the old days, the Jews lived underground, and the whole family would sleep on the floor in the center of the room. Inside the room were food storage and livestocks, because according to the Jewish tradition, the precious things should be placed deeper inside the room. This explains why, when someone came at the door to borrow from food in the Bible, the owner would answer “my family were already in sound sleep”, meaning that it would be inconvenient to fetch the food, because he would have to walked past his family and probably disturb their sleeping.
The Jewish churchyard built in the 1st century. Notice that outside the cemetery, the stones are round. This explains why the verb “rolled” was chosen in Bible when talking about the door of cemeteries. For example, in Mark 15:46, “And he got a linen cloth and, taking him down, put the linen cloth round him, and put him in a place for the dead which had been cut out of a rock; and a stone was rolled against the door.”
More pictures of the Church of Annunciation, Nazareth
Is this cross much smaller than you have imagined? At least I think so. There are many different kinds of cross, and the shapes of a cross changes the process or time of death. Most crosses are not as big as we have imagined, and the prisoners were at the eye level of passers-by so as to reinforce the power of authority. Of course, Jesus made sacrifice for us, and his blood washed off our guilt; we could enter the holy Heaven because of Him.
Jewish lifestyle during the 1st Century. Jesus was born into a family of carpenters. Imagine the young Jesus doing carpentry for his father… Women usually took charge of some handwork. Also, sheep-farming and grape vine planting played an important role in Jewish people’s life. That is why Jesus frequently uses grape vines as part of his metaphors when he enlightens people.