NOMADIC WANDERINGS AND TENTED HOMES
You either love camping. Or you hate it. I love it. Now let your mind wander back millenia to the nomadic life of shepherds and pilgrims who lived in tents. Some very basic but others quite luxurious. Tents were the most primitive form of shelter and came in varying shapes and sizes across the world. They were made of natural fibre (usually animal hair or hide) and held all a family's worldly possesions, and sometimes animals. The Bedouins despite being poor had a reputation for exceptional hospitality. They still do.
Being now the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, my mind has wandered back to the last time I was in Israel, 10 years ago. I had returned for three months and joining many for the special Feast of Tabernacles, the Scriptural week extended to two as we put up tents up and down the country. From the shores of the Dead Sea way up to Galilee, and camping on a mountain overlooking the Sea. We ended, naturally, in beautiful Jerusalem - a bunch of easily 50 campers squeezed in.
But first! The Dead Sea. This time of year is the end of summer but still a scorcher. After hastily pitching the tents, a metre from the crystal surface of the famous Salt Sea we spent hours floating. Long after dark we dried off and flopped around the tents. It was unbearable inside. Early the next day we were off for a wallow in the healing mud of the Dead Sea. And then back in the waters. Of course.
Floating in the Dead Sea is the most remarkable sensation. The salt looks like a dirty diamond coating everything it touches in big white chunks. Certain shores are hazardous to attempt barefooted. Getting water in your eyes is also hazardous. But the healing power of the Seas are world renowned. Very tragically the cosmetic industries are buying into the benefits of both salt and mud and this world wonder is fast disappearing with ongoing mining. According to Scripture one day the waters will run sweet so I can only believe that it will never totally disappear.
Feeling rejuvenated we packed up camp and hit the road north. Israel is very small and you can travel north to south within one day. Despite having done so a number of times the fast changing landscape never ceases to take my breath away. From desert to mountain to lush forests. And often the sparkling Jordan river accompanies you on your travels up or down.
Israel. Land of war. Land of peace. Land of hope. Land of division. Land of promise. Land of controversy. Land of truth. Land of lies. Israel. A land where the old and the new are so mingled that the present becomes a surreal kaleidoscope.
No matter where you go in the Land, Israel is filled with her young soldiers. There is an expression in Israel that she is always in a state of alert - it's just the height that varies. Soldiers have to be ready at a moments notice to rush to where the threat of war is. The tension is palpable. And yet I feel far safer in Israel than I ever have in my own country, especially as the crisis in South Africa escalates.
While the humidity of the Dead Sea was oppressive, the heat in the Galilee was far more bearable. And the nights on our Galilee mountaintop were refreshingly cool. The men pitched small tents while all the women and children camped in a huge - though rather tired - army tent. The views were spectacular. One of the best from the privacy of the toilet!
The toilets are compostable. With majestic elk crazing around you. The oven is handmade of clay. Although we never used it as it is too hot. And there was a delightful herb garden. The Galilee mountain was wonderful for camping as it is totally offgrid.
We were taken on a short walk by the shepherd - yes, a genuine, modern day bedouin shepherd who spends all day with his flock (that incredible tale for another post). He showed us an ancient well. Some of the less claustrophobic climbed down into it. We were also taken to ancient water storage systems, carved by hand in solid rock. There was also a tiny but neglected olive press, mostly hidden under eroding rock.
The evenings began with a spectacular sunset filling the heavens. After a meal around the bonfire we would retire again to our tents and dream of nomadic wanderings.
Leviticus 23 contains the Commands of the Most High for His seven eternal Feasts. In verse 34 we read that "on the fifteenth day of this seventh month is Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles)...it continues to verse 42 saying "Dwell in tabernacles for seven days". And so at this time of year you will see Sukkas (Tabernacles/booths) dotted all over the place. And more so in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is said to be the centre of the world. It is the heart of the three major religions. And I find it the perfect example of a meeting of old and new as well as Scriptural prophecy and history. I lived previously in Jerusalem and I never tire of it.
Camping in Jerusalem is challenging. We pitched tents on the roof of one of the youth hostels. The older people stayed in rooms the younger and adventurous in the tents. We had in our midst families, businessmen, dancers, musicians and artists but such a sweet unity. While camping on the Galilee mountaintop was quiet Jerusalem seems to be the city that never sleeps!
Meal times during the Feast of Tabernacles is particularly festive. Everyone gets involved. It is truly a Feast! And a special celebration. For the rest of the week it is a blur of laughter, dancing, talking, studying, resting and of course exploring. I find the memory of Sukkot - especially in Israel - carries me on wings for weeks, even months to come.
In Israel, even in the city and on apartment blocks you see little Tabernacles being built. And used. As much as we intended to go camping even for a couple days, this year Sukkot on our homestead was nothing spectacular. In fact it was very challenging. My autistic stepson is regressing very badly. Our crops have had major setbacks (hopefully not total failure). With the continued drought I am again looking at selling some goats. To top it all, we have all been sick. And so I have dug into my photo albums which has allowed my mind to wander, like the nomads of old to a special Sukkot in a special place. Israel. Land of Hope. Land of Promise. Maybe next year....
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Thank you so much!
Beautiful journey. I wold love to go there one day. Thank you for taking us to the land of Israel. Such a bliss!
Bliss indeed @sherylneil. It is the beautiful Land and my love of Israel is that for another person
howdy there buckaroo! wow this is such an excellent post. The text is masterful and detailed, the photos are magnificent...this is a tremendous blessing to behold!
Aaaaaah @janton that is one of your sweetest comments. Thank you
howdy today buckaroo! wow ..well I was just stating the facts but maybe I need to be more careful. I don't want to ruin my reputation for being ornery! lol.
Wonderful post my child, your best yet methinks!!
Keep em rolling . . .
Thank you for sharing such a vivid story of your times in a place I usually only hear about in some biased news report. It is beautiful to see it through your eyes. I hope things turn around from your current setbacks and that you can make it back next year!
Thank you for such an honest comment @plantstoplanks. Sadly the news is very one sided about Israel. I lived there long enough to experience both sides. I have to say the bias is largely on the side of the media. I know this because it is the same about Israel. The truth is not reported just a twisted story
This simply cannot be topped! What a wonderful story and I took in every single morsel then read it again. You are a brilliant storyteller and your experiences far outweigh my brain processing power!
So well done!
Upped and will resteem later
Denise I am honoured by your comment and the fact that you have read my post twice! Thank you so much for the resteem and vote
Your post was an absolute pleasure! ❤
You know how I love these kind of posts...always enjoy seeing the Holy land and hearing stories about it! Thanks for digging in the archives and putting together this post!
Oh I have so many more stories and photos of the beloved Land @simms50. I will share as long as there are those, like you, who appreciate them
Keep them coming!!!! :-D
Thanks for this fantastic insight into travelling in Israel!
Happy to share @jpphotography
Stunning sister. I didn't realize you did the whole dead sea paint yourself with mud story? Remind me to show you a pic too sometime I did it years back was fun hehe love me x
Did it make you 20 years younger? Yes I've done it a number of times. Amazing
LOL no, when I did it I was 20, so I would have been uhm.... Well you know what I mean ;P
Fantastic journey! I have been to the Dead Sea as well, but went from the Jordan side. At night we saw the lights from the Isreali side.
@digi-me I have been priviledged to watch the lights from both sides of the Dead Sea! I have spent many nights in Aqaba looking across at Israel as well as seeing Jordanian lights and the stunning red mountains of Edom from Israel
It is beautiful is it not? I have not been to Israel - so I for me, only one side. But maybe some day. .... It is facinating countries both of them. Especially the richnes in history.
Awwwwwwww, Tracey, this was such a lovely reading. I enjoyed it very much and i learned something new about Israel. I would love to visit this mystical place someday.
However, now I am sad reading about your problems and thinking about selling your goats. Oh my gosh, just please make sure you sell them to someone who will care for them us much as you do. I wish you all the best, so everything would improve soon 😊
Beautiful post, Tracey. I can see why you would go back to this year when Sukkot was hard in the present.
You've been doing the feast days a long time compared to most of us newbies!
It looks like a wonderful year. Maybe next year again. Maybe together this time.
We can always hope...
We say "next year in Jerusalem"....
You've got me thinking Lauren. It'll be 11 years this Pesach. When did you come to the understanding?
Well, that depends. My family has been keeping Sabbath for 30 years because we felt God had commanded it of us too. Eating clean for 28 or 29. But we didn't keep the feast days because we were addressing commandments one at a time and trying to figure out if we should be keeping them.
When I married Ben, his point of view was just slightly different: that instead of looking at each command, we needed to know who we were. If we are part of God's family...well then. Everything he said to his family applies to us to the best of our capability.
It wasn't a big leap for me at all.
We've been married 7 years in November. We marked the first Sukkot we were together, but we were only engaged so attending a Sukkot gathering and camping for the week seemed like not such a good idea at the time. So this is our 6th Sukkot actually being in a temporary dwelling.
Which means you have a few years on us!
Lauren I LOVE your story! My husband's parents were Sabbath keepers (and kosher) for very long but he fought it. Good charismatic Christian ;) But when he saw Shabbat then he understood everything as well. The Names. Israel. Feasts etc. Although I grew up knowing that Israel are the chosen people and that easter and christmas are rooted in paganism I didn't question further. Until I started questioning the unScriptural teachings and traditions the church (and leadership that I was a part of) practiced. I was asked to leave and really dug into Scripture, specifically the first 5 books for months. I came to the understanding the week before Pesach 2007 so every Passover is a special one for me. And how blessed are we to raise children in Torah!?
I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get back to this comment, but I'm pretty sure you'll see it!
You have such a similar story with the roles reversed! You're more like Ben and your husband is more like me.
My family had to leave a couple of churches. That is no fun at all.
But what a good anniversary! I remember we came to the hard and fast conclusion to keep the feasts right before Passover as well...and then we had no clue at all how to keep it. We're still figuring it out, but boy were we lost that first year...
Got it!! We're all on a journey Lauren. And I love hearing about each one's adventure