This was a royal city of the Canaanites, 22 miles, north of Shechem on the southwest edge of the plains of Jezreel, the most famous battlefield in the history of the world. Thutmose III battled with Megiddo in 1468 B.C.; the walls of his temple at Thebes tell of his war plans. His famous comment was, “Taking Megiddo is like taking a thousand cities.” The mound, which was extensively excavated between 1925 and 1939 by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, covers 13 acres and reveals 20 cities – each built on the ruins of the preceding one – dating from earliest times to 400 B.C. Its water system dates back 2,800 years. A shaft 120 feet deep connects with a spring outside the city walls by a tunnel 215 feet long, which protected the city’s water supply. Sunken grain silos from the time of Jeroboam II protected the grain. Exquisite ivories, a fragment of an Egyptian Stelle bearing the name of Shishak, an elaborate City Gate, and the Seal of Sheva, are among the important discoveries at Megiddo. The Hebrew Seal of Sheva has the following words inscribed on it: Eved Yravam, which means “servant of Jeroboam.” Although this seal is in a museum in Istanbul, most of the finds at Megiddo have been placed in the Rockefeller Museum and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Via Dolorosa refers to a pilgrim route that begins near the Lion’s Gate where some believe that Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate and was tortured by the Romans. It ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Catholic supposed site of crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus). On Fridays, especially on Good Friday, Christian pilgrims process through the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, carrying a cross, stopping to pray at the fourteen “stations of the cross” where it is thought that significant events associated with the passion of Jesus occurred. Some of the logic for such piety can be traced back to the 14th century A.D. But the origin of the current route and its fourteen stations only goes back to the 19th century! Although the piety and devotion of the pilgrims are evident, there is unfortunately no historical evidence that Jesus followed this route. Indeed, a Roman Catholic scholar used to lead “a protest procession” on Good Friday from the site of Herod’s Palace near Jaffa Gate — where he thought (probably correctly) that Jesus had appeared before Pilate—to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Early in his ministry, Jesus and his disciples traveled to Nain, a small town south of Nazareth and very near to Shunem. When they arrived, they saw a funeral procession for a young man who was the only son of a widow. “And he came and touched the bier and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young Man, I say unto thee, Arise. And he that was dead sat up and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother!” Luke 7:14-15. Elisha was very highly revered in Nain because he had raised an only son from death centuries before and delivered him to his grieving mother. This was in Shuneum, less than two miles away.
Joppa is immediately south of Tel Aviv and is a part of “greater” Tel Aviv. It is 30 miles south of Caesarea and 40 miles northwest of Jerusalem. It has a recorded history of 3,500 years. Under Solomon, Jaffa became Jerusalem’s seaport (too shallow to be a great port as passengers & cargo had to be loaded to smaller boats off shore). During the Jewish rebellion of 66 A.D., 8,000 Jews were killed here. Crusader Richard the Lion-Hearted built an immense citadel here, but an army under Saladin managed to take it and slaughtered 20,000 Christians in the process. It was razed by Napoleon in 1799 and later rebuilt by the Turks. Janne Sjodahl, a Mormon missionary in the 1880s, baptized two Arab men into the Church, near the place where Peter had his vision extending the Gospel to non-Jews. The first Zionist pioneers of the 19th century entered the Promised Land through Jaffa harbor, but the harbor is scarcely used today. On the top of a hill near the seashore is the Monastery of Saint Peter, marking the traditional site of Peter’s vision of the great sheet; and nearby is a small mosque in the little alley close to the lighthouse, built on the traditional site of the House of Simon the Tanner.