Israeli drivers are aggressive. Wow. Here in Israel the sequence of lights at an intersection is a little different than in the US. They have the standard red-yellow-green, but the lights blink on and off differently. As you approach an intersection if the light is green no worries, carry on. If the light is blinking green however, you should begin to slow down. This is the indication that it is a “stale” green about to turn yellow. You could of course speed up so that you make it through the intersection before the light turns yellow then red! If you’re waiting at a red light you’ll notice something interesting. Before the light turns green it will show red AND yellow. This is your indication to get ready for the green light. You know, rev your engine, shift into gear, get ready to pop your clutch, or as I have discovered to lay on your horn so that the guy in front of you knows that the light is about to turn green. Good night! At first I thought the general Israeli habit of honking as soon as the light turned green was annoying, but this takes the pita! The light was red and yellow and the guy behind me still honked. Apparently this is common practice!
Another interesting part of life here is the security fence which surrounds portions of the West Bank. If you’re wondering, we generally don’t cross it (except to get to Bethlehem). We try to stay in areas that are open to the Israeli public. That usually covers all the sites we want to see as a family. Sometimes it gets in the way however, like today. When that happens I am sorely tempted to cross the fence, via an authorized checkpoint of course. Pray for me.
Yesterday I went exploring one of the ancient routes from Jerusalem to the Aijalon Valley, known as the Beth-Horon Ridge Route. The road is mentioned most famously in Joshua 10 as the location of Joshua’s miraculous defeat of the Gibeonites. Today the road is highway 443 from Jerusalem through Modi’in another famous place. Mattathias sparked the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucids here. The road wanders along the ridge connecting a series of hills as it heads west towards Jerusalem. My intention was to stop at the site of two ancient villages, Upper Beth Horon and Lower Beth Horon, but the security fence kept getting in the way. In fact, the fence runs the whole length of the highway from Jerusalem to Modi’in. I think someone is trying to say “just keep driving!” I stayed calm and carried on… but it was difficult. This morning I took a chance and explored a tomb in the Kidron Valley. I was definitely being watched. After a few minutes and a few pictures it was time to get out of Dodge.
Life here is so different from Zambia. It’s nice to be in a developed country again. The streets are clean. Services work. I understand enough Hebrew to get into trouble. I am generally addressed by people in Hebrew. They assume I’m from here. I generally respond: Ata medaber anglit? (Do you speak English?) I get a funny look and then sometimes the conversation continues in English. Generally we have not had trouble. That said the spiritual needs here are great! It’s fascinating to be in a country where spiritually related practices are on display all the time. Jerusalem, of course, is filled with religiosity. Don’t doubt for a second that these people are not committed to what they are doing! On a recent trip to Bethlehem I spoke with a Muslim student who is studying comparative religions at Hebron University. He was convinced that the only way to run a just society was to base all governmental activity on religion. Why? “Because people will obey laws if they are told that they come from God.” He was seriously concerned about what was best for the public. Who chooses which religious laws are put into effect? “He said, “Muslim nations get Muslim laws. Christian nations get Christian laws.” He was a very sincere individual. I tried to speak with him about heart change and the nature of Jesus’ mission. We did not have very long to talk. Pray for him, his name is Muhammad (no kidding, at least that’s what he called himself.) Don’t laugh, my grand-father’s name is Jesus, I have an uncle and a cousin named Immanuel, and my mother’s maiden name, my second last name, is Cruz meaning “cross”! It’s no wonder I ended up in this line of work. Pray for people in this part of the world. Unlike Zambia, many of them live in relative prosperity, so they have more to cover up their spiritual need. Pray for us. We are here to study archaeology, and geography but you never know when the door opens for a conversation.
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