Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tel Azekah

Today is the boy's birthday. Needless to say we still arose before 6am and hit the road. The only difference this morning was that bwo was up and busy catering (in a total panic). Blackdaughtero who did not go out last night and fell asleep at 9pm (first Friday night in history), still could not stomach seeing the morning sun. Blacknephewo was in from Tel Aviv - and the three of us men set out for Tel Azekah.

Now Azekah was mentioned a number of times in the bible. It's is on a high tel overlooking the Ella valley outside Beit Shemesh. It is said to be the place where the Amorites were defeated by Joshua (Joshua 15:20,35) and it is also reputedly where in the time of King Saul the Philistines massed their forces, and presented the world with Goliath (1 Samuel ch.17). Azekah was one of the last sites to fall before the overthrow of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 34:6-7). There have been some excavations at the site, but I struggled to find real archaeological info and most of the sites that mention Azekah have a definite biblical leaning. I know there is a cave and a water system, but we found neither. Still it was good fun. I definitely need to get an encyclopedia of archaeological sites in Israel, so I can look into what has been uncovered scientifically (this is what I have in mind - a mere $200) .
This is what the tel looks like from Azekah Junction on route 38 (Beit Shemesh road). It is quite imposing, but you can drive right up to near the top through the British Park entrance on route 383.
So they say this weekend will be the peak of the wild flower bloom. They certainly are putting on a good show.
I think this is the view over the edge of the Ella Valley (I need to take better notes of what I'm photographing). The mist made everything look very cool.
The site has been completely taken over by dozens of biblical quotes on pedestals. All the verses that mention Azekah in the bible are engraved onto stone stands. There was also a little model, long ago vandalized that explained the geology of the region. It seems to me that some people objected to the "millions" of years of tectonic movement as it does not jell with their 6 days of creation - so they scratched it out. We live in a tolerant world - Not!
I just liked this picture of the coffee making with the view of the hills of Judea in the background.
Proof that we were there just after 7am. Blacknephewo wanted to know how the sun dial corrects itself for summer time.
This is the upper tel looking up from the lower tel. I don't see that a lot of archaeology has taken place, but there are a many signs of a city, like stone walls and much ceramic sherds and tile.
It is a stunning view. That's route 38 in the valley.
There is tons of pottery sherds laying all over. It seems that there must have been quite a large settlement here in antiquity.
I had to take a picture of these two on the bike. We stopped to buy bagele and falafel balls (very dry) at one of the junctions along route 38. We then waited for a while at a traffic light behind these two. Words cannot describe the music blaring from their bike. Some sort of Israeli folk song, "Yerushalayim Oh Yerushalayim" as loud as can be. Completely bizarre. I wish I had a video camera.

Happy birthday boy. We have been blessed for 19 years. I wish you a future full of love, joy and wisdom.

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