Category Archives: Israel

Rise Up, My Love (231): Beautiful Mt. Carmel—Yesterday and Today جبل مار إلياس הַר הַכַּרְמֶל

Song of Solomon 7:5 “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king is held in the galleries.” At last Solomon completes his song of delight. He has praised each aspect of his wife’s precious body from toe to tip, and as his eyes feast on the sight of her blessed head crowned by billows of flowing black hair, he stands transfixed.   His heart has found its resting place in the regal beauty of her face! “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel.” Carmel, from the Hebrew karmel meaning “God’s vineyard,” is an area of lush vegetation “always considered to be one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in Palestine, rich with verdant growth and beautiful from every direction. As Solomon viewed the head of his beloved, he saw the beauty and uniqueness of Carmel.”* Carmel is not only impressive because of its lush vegetation, it is important because of its location. Carmel is a limestone mountain range that extends like a spine from the Mediterranean Sea to the southeast for about thirteen miles, dividing the Palestinian coastal plain into the plains of Accho, Sharon, and Philistia. At their peak, the mountains attain a height of 1,791 feet, but according to Merrill Tenny, the most spectacular area is the northwest promontory, which stands 470’ above the Mediterranean Sea.**            Today, the modern city of Haifa has grown up the slopes of Carmel.   But three thousand years ago, when the Song of Solomon was written, it was on the slopes of these lush mountains that Nabal grazed his immense herds of three thousand sheep and one thousand goats (I Samuel 25:2). Nabal’s widow Abigail married David, who was (of course) Solomon’s father, so David would have become the owner of these vast possessions, and Solomon would have developed a special appreciation for the grandeur of this fertile area. (In fact, they may have become his personal possession at some point, because in I Chronicles 26:10 it mentions that King Uzziah had husbandmen and vine dressers in Carmel.)   The top of Carmel’s magnificent promontory jutted out over the Mediterranean Sea, and it was from this vantage point that the prophet Elijah sent his servant to “Go up now, look toward the sea” (I Kings 18:43) while he was waiting for the Lord to send rain to the famished land of Israel. It was on the top of this mountain that Elijah held his contest with Ahab and the four hundred prophets of Baal (I Kings 18:19). Carmel was famous throughout Palestine for its lush fertility and beauty, and it was used repeatedly by the prophets as a symbol of Israel’s best, which would wither in judgment (Isaiah 33:9, Amos 1:2; 9:3) but would blossom again during the millennial reign of Christ (Isaiah 35:2; Jeremiah 50:19).   Twice Carmel is touchingly referred to as the Lord’s personal possession—“his Carmel”— which the Lord would defend from enemy attacks (2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 37:24). In Jeremiah 46:18, it was foretold that Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest over Egypt would be as glorious and prominent as Carmel’s impressive promontory over the Mediterranean Sea. With these rich threads of historical background in mind, it is easy to understand what an expansive compliment Solomon wove into his tapestry of praise.   “Thine head upon thee is like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple,” is a simile that said to the ancient world, “Your head crowns your body like the glorious cliffs of Carmel which stand with regal splendor even above the grandeur of the sea. Your hair—so full and free— cascades down from your head like the verdant lushness that flows from the most fertile mountainsides in our country. Your head stands like Carmel—dwelling place of prophets…showcase for God’s victory over false idols…symbol of all that is fertile and pure and lovely. Your head is like Carmel—(spiritually: fertile with his Word!)… a showcase for his victories…regal with his grace.  Oh precious Savior, we pray that you would make these visions of your Bride a reality in our individual hearts and lives. How wonderful it is to know that someday we will be presented to you, without spot or wrinkle, as your glorious Bride!

* Paige Patterson, Song of Solomon ( Chicago:  Moody, 1986), 106.
** Merrill C. Tenny, ed. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Corp., 1977), Vol.1, 755.

(I took all these photos on a birthday trip to Israel several years ago, except the one of me, of course! My husband took the last one.  🙂  )

Lisa’s Diary of Israel: Day 5—Lotta Masada

We got a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call today so we could get an early start to travel from Jerusalem to Masada.  We stopped in En Gedi early enough to see Nubian Ibex
(an animal listed in the Bible).  They graze and visit before they tour buses come through,
and then scatter to the hills of the wilderness.  We had stayed near the Jaffa Gate (oldest gate) in Jerusalem. The drive from Jerusalem through the Judean wilderness to Masada took about two hours, and went we from +250 meters to -300 meters below sea level.  We traveled early to escape the heat of the day, and it was still 105 degrees F.  Masada is in the Judean desert overlooking the Dead Sea.

We’re still getting used to seeing the amount of automatic weapons in the hands of young adults, since the Israelis are compelled to be in the military after graduating from high school (boys for 3 years, girls for 2 years).  Even when they’re not training, they still have their weapon with them.

So if they’re on a break,
you may see people in shorts and flip flops carrying their weapon.  We all took a cable car up, because the Snake Path walking trail was closed due to high temperatures.  Masada (Hebrew metsudhah) means stronghold.  King Herod the Great built the city and palaces for protection
between 37 – 31 BC.  75 years after Herod’s death, during the Great Revolt against the Roman Empire, the Zealots (Jewish rebels) ran away to the desert. It was a good place to hide because of the challenge for the Romans to follow. (There were no stairs then!) 960 Jewish people hid in Masada and used Herod’s stores of food.  Herod had employed Roman architecture for the bathing rooms – cold room (frigidarium), warm room (tepidarium), hot room (caldarium) like our sauna.  Everything below the black line is original archaeology.  King David may have used this stronghold when fleeing enemies
– but didn’t have stairs for access.  The columns and colors are original, over 2000 years old!

Psalm 59:9, 16 (HCSB) -“I will keep watch for You, my strength, because God is my stronghold.  But I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning.  For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.”

(Even the birds find shelter in the stronghold.)  Psalm 62:1-2 – “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken.”  Mosaic floors were popular in Jewish art of the Herodian period.  Byzantine West Gate  Artifacts and archaeology
tell much of the sad ending of Masada, when the Jewish people chose mass suicide
rather than being captured by the Romans.  It’s sobering to consider in whom or what we take refuge.Where do you and I seek our strength?”  (Overlooking the remains of the synagogue.)

Psalm 62:5-8 (HCSB) – “Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will not be shaken.  My salvation and glory depend on God, my strong rock.  My refuge is in God.  Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is our refuge. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that].”

(Guest author: Lisa Walkendorf. All photos and materials are hers and used by her permission. Thank you, Lisa! If you want to learn more about Israel, you can access all her trip notes here: WalkendorfsinIsrael.weebly.com

Pictures from Israel…Please Pray for Peace

Donkey StatueThis spring my son-in-law, Carl (Kathy’s husband), Carl on Donkey in Israel had the privilege of going with his church on a tour of Israel. Carl and Blake by David Pascoe (Although, for Carl it was also a work trip, as he served as a videographer.)Carl and Brad When he came home, I asked if I could share some of his pictures with you. Carl by LVK Jordan He hardly took any stills, but several of his friends took pictures which they Carl with Dave Pascoeshared with him (in particular, Dave Pascoe, pictured above), LVK Jordan and they’ve been kind enough to allow me to share their memories with you too! Petra DP So, in case you’ve been thinking about this most holy of lands, which is today (as always) in such deep distress and terror, let me pass along a few photos: Blessed by your name May we be reminded to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Petra Near Jerusalem. Marilyn O'Connor Petra, near Jerusalem Mount of Olives. Dave Pascoe The Mount of OlivesWadi Arnon. DP The Wadi Arnon Sea of GalilieeThe Sea of Galilee Garden TombThe Garden TombSynagogue of Capernaum DP Synagogue of Capernaum Petra. MO Another shot of PetraMt. Carmel. DPOn top of Mount Carmel, preparing for a shoot with their pastor, Brad Powell. Brad teaching at the Herodium by Dave Pascoe.Brad teaching at the Herodium (south of Jerusalem in the Judean Desert) Jerusalem“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”
(Jesus speaking, as quoted in Matthew 23:37) Dome of the Rock“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
Psalm 122:6

(Only the first picture and the last two are mine; the rest are used by permission of Carl’s wonderful spiritual brothers and sisters at Northridge. Thank you! 🙂 )

The Trees in Israel


Since May 14, 1948, when Israel became an independent state, the Israelis have planted more than a quarter of a billion trees!I had a spiritual mom who was a Messianic Jew, and every year she would have some trees planted in Israel in my honor of my birthday.Everywhere we went, I would imagine, “I wonder if these are some of the trees…”We visited in the fall, so it was just time for the harvest, and all the trees were heavy with fruit. (These are date palms.) What a joy to see Israel blooming after so much heartache and desolation!

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:11-13).