Today we drove north through the West Bank for about an hour and a half, then through a checkpoint and back into Israel proper. After another half hour or so we were in Nazareth of Galilee, Jesus’ hometown. We saw a church dedicated to Joseph, which had some icons of Joseph with Jesus as a young child and an older child. The focus on Joseph as dad is one I hadn’t seen before.
The Church of the Annunciation- the angel coming to Mary with the news that God had chosen her to bear Jesus- was a focus of the morning. The site has remains from a first century house, which is pretty cool. Tradition says it is Mary ‘s house. Outside there are a number of images from different countries of Mary and Jesus. I took some notes sitting on a wall that is from the 12th century, Crusader times.
So Nazareth really was a backwater little town. It might have had between 200 and 300 people living there in Jesus’ time. It is understandable why Philip asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Today Nazareth has a population of 100,000.
We were supposed to go to Cana from Nazareth this afternoon, but the road to Cana was closed. Instead we went to Sepphoris, which is an archeological dig of first century remains and 4th century Roman mosaics from a Roman city. Herod Antipas (He beheaded John the Baptist and Jesus once called him a fox) made Sepphoris his capital around year 4. Until he moved his capital by the year 20. Fickle guy, it seems. One new thing I learned today is that some scholars believe that Joseph might have moved to Nazareth to get work building the city for Antipas. Turns out the word we are told means carpenter in Greek can mean ‘builder’ or ‘construction worker.’ In other words, it is not definitive that Joseph worked with wood. Who knew?
On the main road of the Roman town remains, called the cardo , you can see grooves from chariots they drove. Is that cool or what????
Tomorrow we head to Nablus and Jacob’s Well. This is the site commemorating Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman. I know many people really love this story so it will be particularly interesting to be there.