Geological and Tribulation Features on Israel Tour Paths – 3B



Tiberias and Upper Galilee– Second Half of Normal Third Day of Tours


This a continuation of activities on the third day of the tour. We leave the ancient city

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fortress of Hatzor proceeding into the upper headwater tributaries of Israel’s Jordan River.

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I have been to the headwater springs of all the northern tributaries of the Jordan, but we will only go to the one I believe the most biblically significant because of its setting where Jesus advised the Disciples he was the foundation of the first Church, and they were the pebbles that existed on his foundation.

The Jordan River rises from the confluence of three major springs and streams located on the southern and western slopes of Mount Hermon (Arabic, Jabal al-Shaykh). The largest is the Dan and the other two are the Hasbani (Hebrew, Nahal Senir) and the Baniyas (Hebrew, Nahal Hermon) streams. The streams unite about 4 miles south of the Lebanon-Israel border. These springs usually provide 50 percent of the water of the upper Jordan, the rest coming from surface runoff in the rainy winter months. The discharge flows into the northern end of the Ghawr, which is the valley of the Dead Sea and the northern extremity of the Great Rift Valley that runs south to Africa, ending at Mozambique.

The upper Jordan River flows swiftly through the Hula Valley, additional water coming to it from minor springs and Wadi Barayghit (Hebrew, Nahal Iyyon). Four miles south of the Jordan’s outlet from Lake Hula, the water course deepens and the river runs for 10 miles, plunging 850 feet. The central Jordan river begins north of the Sea of Galilee (also called Lake Tiberias or Lake Kinneret), leaving the southern exit of the lake, where it meets up with a few more streams and most importantly with its main tributary, the Yarmuk River. The Yarmuk originates in the eastern rift and forms the border between Syria and the Kingdom of Jordan as it flows westward to enter the Jordan River 6 miles south of the Sea of Galilee at 985 feet below sea level. The lower Jordan River flows southward, dropping to 1,310 feet below sea level, emptying into the Dead Sea, a great salt lake whose surface level is the lowest point on Earth’s surface.

Water politics in the Jordan River basin

The Headwater Diversion Plan was an Arab League plan to divert two of the three sources of the Jordan River, and prevent them from flowing into the Sea of Galilee, in order to thwart Israel’s plans to use the water of the Hasbani and Banias in its National Water Carrier project for out of Basin irrigation. The plan was approved by the Arab League in 1964 but Israel prevented the project’s development through military intervention.

In 1955 the Unified (Johnston) Plan for the multinational development of Jordan River basin between the riparian rights holders was finalized. The Plan was accepted by the technical committees from both Israel and the Arab League. A discussion in the Knesset in July 1955 ended without a vote. The Arab Experts Committee approved the plan in September 1955 and referred it for final approval to the Arab League Council. On 11 October 1955, the Council voted not to ratify the plan, due to the League’s opposition to formal recognition of Israel. [1] After the Suez Crisis of 1956 however, the Arab states (with the exception of Jordan) considerably hardened their position against Israel,[2] and now opposed the plan, arguing that by strengthening its economy the plan would increase the potential threat from Israel.[3] The Arab leadership also argued that the increase to Israel’s water supply would encourage the immigration of more Jewish settlers, thus reducing the possibility of repatriation for Palestinian refugees of the 1948 war.[1]

Nevertheless, both Jordan and Israel undertook to operate within the allocations laid out within the “Johnston Plan”. Two civil engineering projects were completed successfully; the diversion of water from the Jordan River (1.7 million cubic meters in a day) at Eshed Kinrot, carried by the Israeli National Water Carrier from 1955 to 1964 and the Jordanian construction of the East Ghor Main Canal from 1957 to 1966.

In 1964 when Israel’s National Water Carrier was nearing completion, the second Arab League summit conference voted on a plan designed to circumvent and frustrate it. The Arab and North African states chose to divert the Jordan headwaters rather than to use direct military intervention.

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The heads of State of the Arab League considered two options:

1. The diversion of the Hasbani to the Litani combined with the diversion of the Banias to the Yarmouk,

2. The diversion of both the Hasbani and the Banias to the Yarmouk.

The second option was selected.

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Syria began its part of the overall Arab diversion plan with

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the construction of the Banias to Yarmouk canal in 1965. Once completed, the diversion of the flow would have transported the water into a dam at Mukhaiba for use by Jordan and Syria and prevent the water from reaching Israel. Lebanon also started a canal to divert the waters of the Hasbani, whose source is in Lebanon, into the Banias. The Hasbani and Banias diversion works would have had the effect of reducing the capacity of Israel’s carrier by about 35% and Israel’s overall water supply by about 11%. Additionally, it would have increased the salinity of the Sea of Galilee by 60 ppm. [5] Israel declared that it would regard such diversion as an infringement of its sovereign rights.[1] The financing of the project was through contributions by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Syrian diversion works were targeted by a series of Israeli attacks, culminating in air strikes deep in Syrian territory in April 1967.

The increase in water-related Arab-Israeli hostility was a major factor leading to the June 1967 Six-Day War.

Caesarea Philippi was an ancient city located at the southwestern base of Mount Hermon (Ba’al-Hermon or Arabic Jebel esh-Sheikh). The city is mentioned in the gospels of Matthew,[ Mark and also numerous times in Acts. Today, the city, now no longer inhabited, is an archaeological site located within the Golan Heights.

Alexander the Great’s conquests started a process of Hellenisation in Egypt and Syria that cont

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inued for 1,000 years.

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was first settled in the Hellenistic period.

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The Ptolemaic kings, in the 3rd century BC, built a cult centre.

Panias is a spring known also known Fanium named for Pan, the Greek god of desolate places. It lies close to the fabled “way of the sea” mentioned by Isaiah. Along which many armies of Antiquity have marched. In the distant past a giant spring, gushed from a cave in the limestone bedrock, tumbling down the valley to flow into the Huela marshes. Currently it is the source of the stream Nahal Senir. Whereas previously the Jordan River rose from the malaria infested Huela marshes it now rises from this spring and two others at the base of Mount Hermon. The flow of the spring has decreased greatly in modern times. The water no longer gushes from the cave, but only seeps from the bedrock below it. Paneas was certainly an ancient place of great sanctity and when Hellenised religious influences were overlaid on the region, the cult of its local numen gave place to the worship of Pan, to whom the cave was dedicated and from which the copious spring feeding the Huela mashes rose and ultimately supplied the river Jordan.[ The pre-Hellenic deities that have been associated with the site are Ba’al-gad or Ba’al-hermon.[10]

In extant sections of the Greek historian Polybius’s history of “The Rise of the Roman Empire”, the Battle of Panium is mentioned. The battle of Panium occurred in 198 BC between the Macedonian armies of Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid Greeks of Coele-Syria, led by Antiochus III. Antiochus’s victory cemented Selucid control over Phoenicia, Galilee Samaria and Judea until the Maccabean revolt. The Hellenised Sellucids built a pagan temple dedicated to Pan, (a goat-footed god of victory in battle [creator of panic in the enemy], desolate places, music and goat herds), at Paneas.

On the death of Zenodorus in 20 BC, the Panion, which included Paneas was annexed to the Kingdom of Herod the Great. He erected here a temple of “white marble” in honour of his patron. In the year 3 BC, Philip II (also known as Philip the Tetrarch) founded a city at Paneas. It became the administrative capital of Philip’s large tetrarchy of Batanaea which encompassed the Golan and the Hauran. Flavius Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews refers to the city as Caesarea Paneas; the New Testament as Caesarea Philippi (to distinguish it from Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean coast). In 14 AD Philip II named it Caesarea (in honour of the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus) and “made improvements” to the city. His image was placed on a coin issued in 29/30 AD (to commemorate the founding of the city), this was considered as idolatrous by Jews but was following in the Idumean tradition of Zenodorus.

Jesus often used the things in the surrounding topography as examples of principles he wanted to remain in disciple’s memories by both voice and sight. The Springs of Banias is one place where he employed this manner of teaching at Caesarea Philippi.

When we come to the Springs of Banias we are arriving at the Archeological site of Caesarea Philippi, where Jesus made his now famous proclamation concerning the foundation of the local Church. As you walk to the site from the bus, please notice four things in particular: (1) a great cleft of rock rising high above the site, (2) A cave at its bottom, out of which a spring flowed in Jesus’ day, (3) Where the same spring now flows, and (4) the small smooth stones visible below the clear flowing spring water above them, have been name smooth by the water action bumping them together over a long period of time.

A great cleft of rock in Koine Greek is Petra. Jesus used it to describe himself. A pebble or small rock in Koine reek is Petros.

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Jesus used it to describe a disciple, in this case Peter, since he was the leader and had just identified Jesus as the Son of the Living God.

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It is out of the belly of the living God that the water of the Word is sent forth to the world by local church disciples, the small living stones of the living God.

Matthew 16:13-18 – When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? [14] And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. [15] He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? [16] And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. [17] And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. [18] And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.


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I Peter 2:5 – Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

John 7:37,38 – In the last day, that great day of

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the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. [38] He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Ephesians 5:25-27 –Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; [26] That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, [27] That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

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