The day before we had slopped through mud and fields, but the day ahead would have us climbing mountainous areas. Leaving Kibbutz Lavi and walking to Arbel, when we got up to some height, we could see a glimpse in the distance of a land that we longed to see and experience. Each day was a great experience, but the excitement was building daily for what lay just ahead of us.
We left Kibbutz Lavi and hiked over agricultural fields. After walking through the dairy farm area, we could easily look ahead and see the Horns of Hittim, an extinct volcano, in the distance. Having seen pictures of them before, it was amazing to be standing in front of them preparing to walk up to the top! As we hiked, our guide shared some history of the battle that took place there between the Crusaders and Saladin's Islamic forces on July 3 and 4, 1187. The Crusaders were lured into the region by Saladin's army who defeated them and Jerusalem was lost to Islamic rule again. It was only two years later that the Third Crusade started.
We walked around the rim of the mountain looking out over the Plain of Ginnosar, the Arbel Valley, and also the Sea of Galilee in the distance. We rested and spent some time discussing the history of the region. In thinking about the many years of fighting with alternating destruction and reconstruction, reflections towards one's own relationships and the personal pursuit of peace and justice naturally came forth.
We descended the other side of the Horns of Hittim until we came down to a road lined with palm trees that led to Nebi Shu-eib, the holiest site for the Druze religion. The tomb inside the compound is said to be Jethro, Moses' father-in-law. Before going inside, we had to all have on head coverings and remove our shoes; no pictures were allowed inside the very elaborate tomb site that had in stone what was said to be his footprints.
Next we descended into the region of the Arbel Valley. On the way, we came across olive trees and stopped for a discussion about their significance economically, culturally, and Biblically, and also spiritually. For example, we learned that the leaves of the olive tree live three years before falling off and are replaced; that happens to the be length of Christ's ministry. Our individual purpose and plan in life has its own complete length of time that, once completed, results in our own end of life physically. We each have a purpose and can make a contribution to the whole. Psalm 52:8 states, "I am like an olive tree...” for good reason. We should seek to be fruitful, full of life and power of the Spirit through being a part of the tree of God's kingdom through Christ.
After climbing down a rock wall, we inadvertently came through an old cemetery that was not marked very well before going over a fence and getting on a path through acres and acres of very old olive trees. At one point, we encountered a sign attached to some fencing that read, "DANGER: Zone with possible unexploded bombs. Movement only along official roads". Needless to say, none of us dared to cross that fence. In the distance, we could intermittently hear machine gun fire and early that morning while on the cliff heard what sounded like a large bomb explode over the mountain range. Later that day, we saw a helicopter firing on something far in the distance.
It took us quite a while to get through the Arbel Valley to arrive our destination for the evening. We finally arrived at the Arbel Guest House in the community of Moshav Arbel.