Today we visited the West Bank. This requires special arrangements because it requires Palestinian plates. Israelis are not allowed in. Checkpoints are everywhere. Security is tight. Israelis told us (after we got back) that it can be dangerous, but we felt safe. The soldiers were nice once we said we were from the USA and Canada.We visited the Caves of the Patriarchs, also known as Mamre and Machpelah. It is now under a mosque which one has to go into to see most of the tombs. A Yeshiva (Rabbinical school) is also located there by the mosque with two of the tombs under the same roof (part of the strange rules here). Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah and Leah are said to be buried in the tombs. (My wife always asks, How do they know?). The Mosque and Yeshiva are under the same roof but separated by two entrances. Fascinating.Next came the Herodion. This is one of the places of Herod the Great that also had a part in the Bar Kockbah Revolt of 132-135 AD. Herod's tomb was recently found here. It is a spectacular site. One can see the Dead Sea over 10 miles away from here. Herodion Finally there was the church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This is the traditional birth site of Jesus. The church also honors Jerome who translated the Bible there in the 4th century.Jesus' Traditional Birthplace We threw in a visit to Bethlehem Bible College in the city. All in all, quite a day. Tomorrow is Jericho and a trip through Hezekiah's tunnel.
The West Bank May 27.08