Top 5 Reasons to Visit the Holy LandPosted by Greg Monette on January 15 2014
I always tease my wife by saying that the best day of my life was when we arrived in Israel for the first time. Following this, the second best was when Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winning goal against the Americans to seal Canada’s olympic gold medal at the Vancouver winter games in 2010. And then of course our wedding day!
In all seriousness, there are many reasons why you must visit the Holy Land. Here are my top five:
- You will never read the Bible the same way again. I’m not kidding. As soon as you lay your eyes on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the first time, and walk along the shores of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus of Nazareth made his home-base for his ministry you will no longer need to read the biblical stories using your imagination for what the geography looked like. After visiting the Holy Land you will have an indelible image imprinted into your brain painting a permanent portrait of what the actual biblical sites looked like. All the high-resolution photographs in the world can’t prepare you to experience the land of the Bible for yourself.
- Israeli food and “beverages” are superb. Cana of Galilee may be the location of Jesus’ first miracle (water into wine: John 2:5-11) which took place nearly two thousand years ago, but it’s also home to some of the most delicious fermented grapes on planet earth today. My wife and I cracked open a delicious bottle of Galilean red just the other night. Simply divine! Not to mention the fabulous shawarmas...falafel...and HUMUS. You haven’t tasted real olive oil until you’ve been to the Holy Land.
- The beaches are in the words of my six-year-old niece, Sarah, ”Uh...Maaay...ZING.” The only reason I originally thought Julie (my wife) and I should visit the Holy Land was because of the biblical sites. I’m a total Bible geek. However...the beaches were fantabulous! Tel Aviv and Eilat have some of the nicest waterfronts in the world. The Mediterranean and the Red Sea are an experience to themselves. Even if you are not a Bible freak you will still love the beaches in Israel. The water temperature is like bathwater and the views are majestic. And for those of us who have always wanted to float in a an oily substance composed of 33% salt, you will want to take a bob in the Dead Sea. It’s oddly delightful...and painful! If you have any cuts on your body at all, and you do. You just don’t know about them, you will discover them!
- Archaeology. Get your hands on a copy of Jerome Murphy-O’Connor’s The Holy Land: An Oxford Archaeological Guide and thank me later!
- You’re almost guaranteed to meet a famous Bible scholar. When Craig A. Evans (New Testament expert at Acadia Divinity College) and I spent two weeks in Israel in June of 2013, we ran into a ridiculous number of Bible scholars by fluke: Stephen Notley, Clare Pfann, James Tabor, Rami Arav, Shelley Wachsmann, Jerome Lynn Hall, James Charlesworth, Israel Hershkovitz, Shimon Gibson and Richard Freund. I’m probably missing a few names. Basically, just go visit the Yigal Allon Museum in Kibbutz Ginosar on the Sea of Galilee and sit there for one hour. You’ll ingest enough scholarly teaching about the Bible by the end of that time that you could practically earn a M.A. in Biblical Studies for FREE!
So, do yourself a favour and start saving your pesos so you can go on the trip of a lifetime to Jesus’ backyard. And make sure to invite me to go with you.
TODAH! (That’s Hebrew for ‘Thank You’)