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Faculty - Gordon Matties

Pool of Siloam Discovered

, this pool is one of the top ten archaeological discoveries related to the Bible. According to the Biblical Archaeology Review, “Traditionally, the site was believed to be the pool and church that were built by the Byzantine empress Eudocia (c. 400–460 A.D.) to commemorate the miracle recounted in the New Testament. However, the exact location of the pool itself as it existed during the time of Jesus remained a mystery until June 2004. During construction work to repair a large water pipe south of Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, on the ridge known as the City of David, archaeologists Ronny Reich and Eli Shukron identified two ancient stone steps. Further excavation revealed that they were part of a monumental pool from the Second Temple period, the period in which Jesus lived. The structure Reich and Shukron discovered was 225 feet long, with corners that are slightly greater than 90 degrees, indicating a trapezoidal shape, with the widening end oriented toward Tyropoeon valley. The pool is adjacent to the area in the ancient City of David known as the King’s Garden, and is just southeast of the remains of the fifth-century church and pool originally believed to be the sacred site.

The pool is fed by waters from the Gihon Spring, located in the Kidron Valley. As with many sites in the Holy Land, the origins of the Siloam Pool reach back even further in history—at least seven centuries before the time of Jesus. Judah’s King Hezekiah (late eighth century B.C.) correctly anticipated a siege against Jerusalem by the Assyrian monarch Sennacherib. To protect the city’s water supply during the siege, Hezekiah undertook a strategic engineering project that would be an impressive feat in any age: He ordered the digging of a 1,750-foot tunnel under the City of David to bring water from the Gihon Spring, which lay outside the city wall, inside the city to a pool on the opposite side of the ridge. In the years that followed, “Hezekiah’s Tunnel” continued to carry fresh water to this section of Jerusalem, and different pools were built here over the centuries, including the Second Temple pool that Jesus knew.”

To have a look at more pictures and articles on the Pool of Siloam, CLICK HERE to go to the BiblePlaces website.

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/12/pool-of-siloam-discovered.html

Categories
Faculty - Gordon Matties

Elias Chacour’s "Blood Brothers"

In previous tours I’ve been privileged to hear Abuna (Father) Elias Chacour speak to my groups. Now that he has been appointed Archbishop of the Melkite Church, he doesn’t have as much time to greet groups as he did in years past. If we don’t have an audience with him, we will certainly meet others in the community of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions (MEII) who can speak about the joys and challenges of bringing quality education to the Palestinian community in Israel. If the term “Melkite” is puzzling to you, look for a future post in which I suggest ways you might familiarize yourself with the various Christian communities in the Holy Land. The MEII website provides this brief biography of Abuna Chacour:

“Elias Chacour was born November 29, 1939 in the village of Biram in Upper Galilee in Arab Palestine to a Palestinian Christian family, members of the Melkite Catholic Church, an Eastern Byzantine Church in communion with Rome.

At the age of eight years, he experienced the tragedy of his people. He was evicted, along with his whole village, by the Israeli authorities and became a deportee and a refugee in his own country, the Palestine of his birth. Because he remained in the country of his forefathers, he was granted citizenship of Israel when the state of Israel was created in 1948.

Father Elias Chacour came to Ibillin as a young priest in 1965. He quickly saw the lack of educational opportunities for Palestinian youth beyond the 8th grade. A vision of a school for all the children of Israel began to take shape in his mind. Today, this vision has become a reality in the village of Ibillin, Galilee.

In the early 1980s, on an empty hillside now known as the Mount of Light, a classroom building was begun. The newly formed high school moved from temporary quarters in the community center to the new building as soon as it was ready. The original High School has expended considerably, and the history and background speaks of the expansion on the Mount of Light.

Father Chacour has become an ambassador for non-violence and someone, who not only preaches, but lives the Sermon on the Mount. He travels very often between the Middle East and other countries around the world. In addition, hundreds of groups of visitors, fact-finding missions, and pilgrims have visited and continue to visit with him in Ibillin. He has received many International peace awards and been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three occasions. On March 10th, 1994 , Father Elias Chacour received the prestigious World Methodist Peace Award that has been presented in the past to such pilgrims for peace as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the late Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat. On Feb 19th, 2001, Abuna was announced to be the recipient of the Niwano Peace Prize.

Abuna (Arabic for Father, the affectionate and respectful term given to their priests) is the author of two “best selling” books, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land.”

I am recommending that all tour participants read Blood Brothers. Whet your appetite by reading the first 95 pages (CLICK HERE for the pdf file), and then order the book from your local bookstore or online. Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/11/elias-chacours-blood-brothers.html

Categories
Faculty - Gordon Matties

Climbing Mt. Sinai

A Canadian Mennonite University Study Tour
April 26 – May 17, 2012

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/11/climbing-mt-sinai.html

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Faculty - Gordon Matties

Exploring the "Ancient Stones"

Visits to the Holy Land usually include countless “holy places.” But what does it mean to call a place “holy”? I like to think of it as a place that, at one time or another, reflects life at the intersection of the divine and the human. Given that definition, are not all places holy?

On this tour we’ll visit the requisite sites. And by considering the entire land as storied landscape, we’ll find ourselves living imaginatively into the biblical story. Some say the biblical text “comes alive” while walking into ancient archaeological sites.

For texts to come alive, however, the sites and the landscape must also be brought to life. And there’s hardly a better way to facilitate that than to read Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s book The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide (5th edition; Oxford, 2008). Of course, most tour groups are accompanied by an authorized guide. Yet with Murphy-O’Connor as our tutor we’ll more easily recognize what we’re looking at and we’ll know how to ask intelligent questions.

Murphy-O’Connor has a section on every site we visit. Read him before visiting the site (bedtime reading the night before!). Refresh your memory of the biblical texts associated with that site. Take photographs at the site as you are inspired to do so. Then, when you get home, you’ll be able to make that memorable slide show for friends and family, impressing them with all the pertinent information (thanks to Murphy-O’Connor). How else will you remember that the first Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was dedicated on May 31, 339?

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/11/exploring-ancient-stones.html

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Faculty - Gordon Matties

Palestinian Walks, with Raja Shehadeh

On this tour we will do our best to “walk the land.” On at least four days we will get out of the bus and walk the hills and the wadis of Israel and Palestine. We walk into Wadi Qilt. It used to be possible for us to walk from St. George’s Monastery to Jericho. I’ve done that a number of times with my groups. The last time I found myself in that famous wadi, at the end of which lies King Herod’s summer palace and the bountiful, beautiful, and ancient city of Jericho, it was closed for “security reasons.” Although I lament that we may not be able to take that walk this spring, we will hike Jebel Musa in the Sinai (so-called Mt. Sinai), scramble up to the waterfalls of Ein Gedi (where David hid from King Saul, 1 Samuel 23-24), and wander around Tel Dan and along the gorgeous headwaters of the Jordan River at Banyas (ancient Caesarea Phillipi).

The importance of walking the land was impressed on me recently when I read Raja Shehadeh’s moving account (Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape. Scribner, 2007). Raja Shehadeh is a passionate hill walker. He enjoys nothing more than heading out into the countryside that surrounds his home. But in recent years, his hikes have become less than bucolic and sometimes downright dangerous. That is because his home is Ramallah, on the Palestinian West Bank, and the landscape he traverses is now the site of a tense standoff between his fellow Palestinians and settlers newly arrived from Israel. In this original and evocative book, we accompany Shehadeh on six walks taken between 1978 and 2006.

Amid the many and varied tragedies of the Middle East, the loss of a simple pleasure such as the ability to roam the countryside at will may seem a minor matter. But in Palestinian Walks, Raja Shehadeh’s elegy for his lost footpaths becomes a heartbreaking metaphor for the deprivations of an entire people estranged from their land.

You can read excerpts of his book. For parts of chapter 5, CLICK HERE, and for parts of chapter 6, CLICK HERE. Even better, CLICK HERE to watch an illustrated reading by Shehadeh himself.


Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/11/palestinian-walks-with-raja-shehadeh.html

Categories
Faculty - Gordon Matties

The Land: Evangelicals and Israel

A Canadian Mennonite University Study Tour
April 26 – May 17, 2012

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/11/land-evangelicals-and-israel.html

Categories
Faculty - Gordon Matties

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Most tour groups whisk people in and out of Bethlehem. Half a day at the most. They visit the traditional site of the Shepherd’s Fields (either Latin or Orthodox), then the Church of the Nativity and they’re gone. On the Ancient Stones, Living Stones tour, we spend four nights in Bethlehem. This gives us barely enough time to get a feel for the city and, most importantly, to meet some of the people who live there. It’s important to me that tour participants get a good sense of what life in Bethlehem is like. You might want to read the National Geographic article and watch their short video about Bethlehem today.

We will be staying at the Casa Nova Palace (OK, not a palace) right on “Manger Square.” Next door we’ll visit the Church of the Nativity, built by Emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D. on foundations that go back to the fourth century. There are fine mosaic floors still visible from the 4th century structure. Of course any visit to that church raises the question, Where was Jesus born? Kenneth Bailey offers a helpful response to that question in an article titled “The Manger and the Inn.” To read a short version, click here, and for a more in depth article, click here.

I always enjoy meeting the people in Bethlehem. During our days in Bethlehem we’ll take a tour of the Deheisheh Refugee Camp, we’ll visit with Zoughbi Zoughbi of the Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, and we’ll worship with Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem on Sunday. I plan to set up a conversation with Mitri Raheb, Pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church. If you are able, you may want to read his book, I am a Palestinian Christian (Fortress Press, 2005).

I hope this whets your appetite for an engaging and eye-opening experience in Bethlehem, home town of King David, birthplace of Jesus.

Article source: http://cmustudytour.blogspot.com/2009/10/o-little-town-of-bethlehem.html