Jezreel Valley

Israel 2013

Day 2

Caesarea, Mt Carmel, Jezreel Valley

Megiddo, Cana, Nazareth



  1. Scheduled places to visit:
    1. Caesarea (Phonecian city – Strato’s Tower, Caesarea by the Sea, Caesarea Sebaste, Caesarea Palestinae, Caesarea Maritima)
    2. Mt Carmel
    3. Jezreel Valley
    4. Megiddo
    5. Cana
    6. Nazareth
  2. Travel from Tel Aviv (Joppa) to Caesarea
    1. Via the coastal highway (aka inter-coastal highway) (Hwy 2 or Hwy 4)
      1. An ancient major highway from Egypt to Syria and then on to Mesopotamia.
    2. Alternate route – (Hwy 6) probably not the one you will take, through the Shephelah. (We will come back to this route when we look at Megiddo later tonight.) (ROR 9 B)
      1. Mary and Joseph would have traveled the coastal highway from Egypt to Joppa (Tel-Aviv) but probably took veered off around Joppa to the Shephelah and then through one of the passes and then onto Galilee.
      2. They were afraid to go to Judea due to Aracheleus, the son of Herod.  Mt. 2:22.
    3. The Plain of Sharon (ROR 9 B)
      1. Biblical times – could get swampy in places.
      2. Agriculture – SOS 2:1
      3. Sign of God’s blessing – Is 35:2
      4. When it withers – sign of God’s displeasure – Is 33:9
    4. Paul’s journey  – Acts 15:3 (others: many trips Acts 11:13ff) from Pisidian Antioch to Jerusalem
      1. Along the coastal highway
      2. By ship to Joppa
      3. Through the Beqaa (Bekaa) valley (day 4) – possibly the way Peter would have gone sometimes to visit with family in Capernum. (ROR 35 C)
      4. Acts 15:3 – Paul through Phonecia and then Samaria.  A more difficult route! (ROR 32 B) What does it tell you about Paul? (Cf  Jesus John 4:3-4)


  1. Caesarea
    1. Before it became Caesarea (ROR 9 B)
      1. 1500 BC – The Canaanites had an early alphabet from which the Phonecians developed their alphabet.
      2. Caesarea was an ancient port city – an anchor from about 1200 BC (Late Bronze Age) was found here.
      3. Around 1200 BC the Phoenicians developed a non-pictographic writing that was later developed by the Greeks.
      4. Early writings were developed to indicate who owned what.
      5. Later, stories were written to reflect well upon the nation writing the history.  (Story of Thutmose III in Megiddo and Joppa.). Kings bragged of their victories. (ANET p.175)  Cf writing of the Bible and the record of the sins of man.
        1. Mid 300’s BC Caesarea was called Strato’s Tower probably due to the presence of a lighthouse and named after a Phonecian king, Strato from Sidon.
        2. Stratos Tower provided the Plain of Sharon, one of the most fertile areas around a place to ship their goods.
        3. Cleopatra (69 BC – 12 BC) possessed the city for a while.
    2. Augustus gave Strato’s Tower to Herod who rebuilt it into the largest city in Israel at the time
      1. Herod named the city after Caesar Augustus.
      2. Herod rebuilt it over a 12 year period of time (22-10 BC) and it became a prosperous city. It became the place for his navy to operate from as he moved the capital to Samaria (Sebaste).
      3. Herod also rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem (20-19 BC)
      4. He also built Masada – (30 BC.)
        1. After Herod’s death (4 BC) his son, Archelaus ruled in Judea.  He was a terrible ruler.  Because of him Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Galilee – Mt 2:22.
        2. After Archelaus died in 6 AD the Roman rulers ruled from Caesarea.
    3. A harbor town
      1. An artificial harbor – probably the first ever built in the open sea. It was built by Herod the Great (73 BC-4BC).The port was a technological marvel of the day. It rivaled Athens as a port city. It is preserved in ruins.
      2. Herod built an aqueduct that brought water from about 10 miles away. It too is preserved in ruins. (Attn: Rev 3:15 on the aqueduct in Laodecia)
      3. The city had a magnificent theatre and a hippodrome which seated about 20,000 to watch horse races, and gladiator events.  Near the amphitheatre is a stone with the name of Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the time of Jesus, on it.  Preserved in ruins.
      4. The governor’s house where Felix and Festus would have stayed is still preserved in ruins.
    4. Caesarea in the book of Acts
      1. Philip lived and preached (Acts 8:40)
      2. Paul preaches (Acts 9:30)
      3. Peter (in Joppa) goes to see Cornelius in Caesarea (Acts 10). Peter may have taken the same route you will take along the coast through the Plain of Sharon.
      4. Peter recounts the Cornelius story in Jerusalem and the church agrees that the gospel is for the Gentiles too! (Acts 11:11f)
      5. Herod Agrippa I (who put James to death and Peter in prison) dies in Caesarea (Acts 12:19-25)
      6. Paul to speak before Felix and Festus who lived here (Acts 23-25); Paul appears before Agrippa I in Caesarea (Acts 25) and Agrippa later dies in Caesarea.
      7. Paul stops by here on his final trip back to Jerusalem and visits with Philip – Acts 21:8
      8. Paul in prison here for a few years – Acts 23:33; 24:25-25:1.
    5. Caesarea is the most probable place from which Paul wrote Philippians.  (See Hawthorne, Philippians)
      1. Phil 3:12-14 – in light of the hippodrome and the races there.  (See Hawthorne, Philippians)
    6. 66 AD – the Jews revolt against Rome in Caesarea which leads to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  (More on that when you visit Masada).
    7. Origen (185-254) lived here and died here. He was buried in Tyre. He put the Greek and Hebrew texts side by side in the Hexapla. Because of some of his beliefs he was labeled a heretic after his death.
    8. Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea (260-339) and taught here.
      1. He left a great library here. Jerome (347-420 – translated the Bible into Latin) said that he saw the original book of Matthew here.
      2. Eusebius played a prominent role in the Council of Nicea


  1. Mt. Carmel (ROR p.9)
    1. Golan (in Bashan east of Sea of Galilee) (Day 3) and Mt. Carmel (Day 2) are linked together in some of the passages of Scripture.
      1. Rainfall and soils are similar; farming and grazing cattle;  and both symbolize God’s blessing when in bloom and his judgment when they wither
      2. Is 33:8-9  – The plain of Sharon dries up like the Arabah (desert); Bashan and Carmel drop their leaves. The highways are desolate.
      3. Nahum 1:4 – they wither at God’s wrath
      4. Jer 50:19 – being restored and forgiven is likened to Israel once again feeding on the fullness of Carmel and Bashan.
        1. Bashan has tall oaks.  Carmel does not. (Is 2:13, Ez 27:6, Zech 11:2) Carmel has smaller scrub oaks. Solomon had to go to Lebanon for lumber to build the temple.
        2. “Forests” of small scrub trees are throughout Carmel, Galilee, Gilead and the central hill country.
        3. Forests of great oaks are in Lebanon and Bashan.  Israel’s forests are of smaller trees.
    2. Mt Carmel is said to look like an antelope’s head from the sea.  And its “nose” looked down on the sea making it a strategic military outlook.
    3. Mt Carmel benefits from the moisture that comes from the Mediterranean.  It has well watered meadows and summer grass and shade.
      1. On Mt Carmel a person would be safely tucked away – high and able to hide in its dense forests.  – Micah 7:14. (KJV, NAS margin)
      2. Mt Carmel – the showdown with the prophets of Baal and Elijah – I Kings 18:19-20
      3. A retreat area for Elisha – 2 Kings 2:25; the Shunammite woman knew to find him here – 2 Kings 4:25.  Elisha goes to Shunem and raises her son from the dead.

a)      Locate Shunem on your map. (ROR p. 14 or foldout map 3) You will be able to see the hill of Moreh from Mt. Carmel.

b)      Locate Nain on your map (ROR 32 B)

c)      Read Mk 5:21-43, 42. What is the reaction of the people when Jesus raises the ruler’s daughter?

d)      Read Lk 7:11-17 – when Jesus raises the widow’s son, what is the reaction?  Notice where the story happens.  Why the difference?

  1. Jesus grew up in Nazareth (locate on map)

a)      He lived in the place where Elijah and Elisha ministered and taught.  Notice how often he speaks of them in the gospels.

b)      He also lived close to Jonah’s hometown – Gath-hepher (ROR 14) and speaks of him often.

  1. Standing on Mt Carmel and looking north you may be able to see the port city of Acco, its OT name (Judges 1:31) and its NT name, Ptolemais  (Acts 21:7), where Paul came into port and stayed a few days before going to Caesarea and on to Jerusalem where he was arrested.
    1. Vespasian landed here in 69 AD on his way to destroy Jerusalem in 70 AD.
    2. Vespasian gathered his army at Megiddo to prepare his assault on Jerusalem.
  2. Megiddo
    1. Megiddo is now a Tel.  (Hebrew “Har”) – a hill that looks out over the Jezreel valley.
    2. There are 3 routes between the Plain of Sharon and the Jezreel Valley.  (ROR 9 B and cover).  None are easy.

1. Thutmoise III,   (1490-1436 BC) (ANET p 175) – the Egyptian pharaoh whose conquests set the Egyptian empire on a firm foundation for a century, had his army take the more difficult to Megiddo (the Aruna Pass).  His soldiers asked not to make them take that more difficult road, but rather use the southern route – the Dothan Pass.

a)  Thutmoise III took the more difficult road and when he conquered Megiddo he said it was like taking a thousand cities.  Can you see why?

3. The Jokneam Pass – Joshua defeats the king of  Jokneam in Carmel.  Josh 12:22.

a. Jokneam was a city given to the Levites. Josh  21:34 – cited for its pastures.

4. The Dothan Pass – Joseph’s brothers see a caravan coming from Gilead going to Egypt.  They are at the Dothan pass. (Gen 37:22-25). (ROR p.14)

B. Megiddo was a place of some significant battles throughout history.

1. Its strategic location – note hwys on maps. Judges 1:27

a) 1458 BC – Thutmois III vs the king of Kadesh. Egypt wins.

2. Deborah and Barak – Judges 4-5; 5:19 locate Tanaach on your map.

3. Ahaziah – shot at Ibleam (SE Jezreel Valley) and dies at Megiddo -2 Kings 9:27

4. Neco II, king of Egypt, is on his way to Carchemish on the Euphrates to fight.  But Josiah goes

out and meets him at Megiddo.  Josiah is killed fighting a battle here he should not have been

involved in. 2 Chron 35:20-25. This battle pretty much ended  the Southern Kingdom’s

independence. (609 BC)

5.  WW I – battle

6. Armageddon – (Har Megiddo) – Rev 16:16 –the

the final overthrow of evil by God.

  1. Mt. Gilboa
    1. From Megiddo you can look to the East across the valley toward Jezreel and see Mt. Gilboa. (ROR p. 12).
    2. The Harod Valley (the valley on the north of Mt. Gilboa and the town of Jezreel and south of the hill of Moreh) will take you to the Jordan River by Beth-shan.  You will visit there in 2 days. The Harod valley connects the Jezreel valley with the Jordan Rift and then across into Gilead and over to the
    3. Judges 7:1 – The story of Gideon and the Lord choosing 300 men occurs in the Harod valley.
    4. Judges 7 – The Mideanites were at the hill of Moreh.  When Gideon blew the trumpet the Midianites fled down the Harod valley to Beth-shan, down the Jordan rift valley and to Gilead.
      1.  I Sam 31 – Saul  and Jonathan die on Mt. Gilboa.
    5. The hill of Moreh (ROR 12)
      1. From Megiddo you can see the hill of Moreh.  (The hill in the middle directly across the valley)
      2. See IV.C above on Elisha and Shunnamite woman.
    6. Mt Tabor (ROR p.14)
      1. From Megiddo you can see Mt. Tabor toward the north end of the Nazareth ridge.  The ancient hwy, the Tabor Pass, leads to the Sea of Galilee and north from there ran through the valley. (blue arrows on p 14) Judges 4:12f – Barak pursues Sisera on Mt Tabor (Judges 5:13)
      2. Ps 89:12 – Mt Tabor and Mt Hermon – offer praise to God in this Messianic psalm.
      3. I Sam 10:3 – Saul was anointed and sent to Mt. Tabor to an oak tree to meet 3 men…
      4. Mt 17 – traditional site of the Mt of Transfiguration. The monks have a church commemorating the event. (See however the section tomorrow on Mt. Hermon).
  2. Jezreel Valley
    1. Geographical features – security and exposure
      1. The Jezreel Valley separates Galilee from the hills of Samaria.
      2. As we have seen, Mt Carmel is a barrier to the Jezreel valley except through the 3 passes.
      3. The Beth-shan pass (Day 4) on the eastern side of the valley leads toward Golan and Bashan, but the Rift Valley (Jordan River depression) is blocked on the east by the mountains of Golan and Gilead.
      4. Look at the map (ROR p.9).  If you are coming up from Egypt to Damascus the Jezreel Valley is key. Whoever controls it controls much of the communication, wealth, and power.
      5. Mt 4:13 – Jesus moves from the small town of Nazareth (ROR 31 C) (John 1:46 – Can anything good come out of Naz.?) to Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Mt 4 makes it clear he does this to begin his international ministry to the Gentiles.  Can you explain why Jesus moved here?
    2. Ezekiel 21:18ff
      1. People entering Israel from the north had to decide which way they were going to enter.
      2. They could take the eastern route through Transjordan and Rabbah, the Ammonite capital. (ROR 12)
      3. Or, the southwestern route through the Jezreel valley
      4. Which capital would fall first?  Rabbah or Jerusalem?  The route Neb. took would strike fear.
        1. God told Ezekiel to mark two ways for the king of Babylon come into the land.  Nebuchadnezzar was standing at the fork inspecting a liver to divine which way to go.
        2. The point – there were only two ways into the land.  It had natural barriers that protected it.
        3. But for Israel – where did her true protection lie?  Treaties? Geography? Military might?
    3. Shunem – ROR 12 –you can see it from Megiddo. It is at the foot of the hill of Moreh.
      1. 1 Sam 28-29 – Samuel is dead.  The Philistines gather at Shunem and Saul gathers his people at Gilboa (the mount across the valley).  Saul becomes afraid and consults a medium who conjures up Samuel. (I Sam 28:3 – he had put all the mediums out of the land, but must have kept one just in case.)
      2. IV.C. – Mt. Carmel section.
    4. The city of Jezreel
      1. I Kings 21:1 – Naboths vineyard.
      2. II Kings 9 – Jehu is anointed king and told to kill Ahab and that the dogs would eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel.
      3. II Kings 9:17-20 – Watchmen are on the tower in Jezreel and look out and sees a guy “driving furiously” through the valley and id’s him as Jehu by the way he drives.
    5. The Jezreel Valley is a rich agricultural land.  In its center it is about 100 feet above sea level. However, as it moves towards the Jordan River it drops to a about 800 feet below sea level. It did not drain well as you move east. (Foldout map 3 shows the elevation at Jezreel to be sea level.)
      1. Locate Mt. Carmel and Jezreel on the map (ROR 12)
      2. I Kings 18:45-46 (NAS) After Elijah’s showdown with Ahab on Mt Carmel it begins to rain after a long drought. Ahab hops in his chariot and heads toward Jezreel.
      3. The hand of the Lord is with Elijah and he outruns the chariot of Ahab to Jezreel.
      4. What natural phenomena might God’s hand have provided for Elijah to outrun a chariot?
      5. Note too:  Judges 4:15 as Sisera hops from his chariot (in the Jezreel valley near Mt Tabor) and runs to the tent of Jael where she drives a tent peg into his head. (Fold out 3) – Judges 5:21.



  1. Nazareth  (ROR p. 31; foldout 3)
    1. On a clear day you can see the Nazareth ridge across the Jezreel valley from Megiddo.
      1. At the eastern end of the Nazareth ridge is Mt. Tabor, a distinct rounded hill.
      2. The coastal hwy through the Jezreel valley takes its northern turn near Mt. Tabor (ROR p. 9). If you are traveling north from the Jezreel valley then you know Mt. Tabor. (fold out 3)
      3. Jer 46:18 – Nebuchadnezzar’s return to Egypt will be as known as Tabor and Carmel are as mountains on the well traveled hwy.  All will know of Egypt’s defeat and ruin.
      4. Is 9:1-2 – Jesus grew up in the region of Zebulun and Capernaum was in Naphtali. The way of the sea is the hwy from Hazor to Megiddo that passes right by the Nazareth ridge. In the past this route was humbled, but a child is going to be born (vs 6) and ….
    2. Mary – Lk 1:26
      1. Mary was in Nazareth when Gabriel told her that she found favor with God and would bear Jesus.
    3. Jesus and Nazareth (ROR 32 A)
      1. Jesus grew up in the region of Galilee in the town of Nazareth. (Mt 2:23; Lk 2:51).
      2. He moved from here after his baptism to Capernaum (Mt 4:13)
      3. After his baptism he visits Nazareth on a Sabbath and read Isaiah in the synagogue.  (Lk 4:14-30)
      4. In 4:14 – everyone spoke well of him.
      5. But by 4:30 – He was rejected and taken to a hill to be thrown off.  You may see that hill (or one like it).
      6. Why? He used the hometown prophets everyone there revered, Elijah and Elisha.  And made the point that the only oppressed and sick they saved were outside Israel and enemies – Sidon and Syria.   Who does Christ come to save?
        1. Nathaniel – Jn 1:46 – Can anything good come out of Nazareth? It was just a small town away from any main roads in that day, surrounded by mountains with poor soil.
  2. Cana (ROR back flap)
    1. John 2 – Jesus turns water to wine
    2. John 4:46 – Jesus returns to Cana after his stay in Samaria.  An official in Capernaum hears he is there and sends for him to heal his son.  His son is healed.  The second sign.
    3. John 21:2 – Nathanael is from Cana. He is the one who asked if anything good can come from Nazareth.  That is kind of funny – who else do we know from Cana?  No one.  It gets no other mention in Scripture than what we have here.














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Israel 2014

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