Jericho – 5. The tree

After leaving the mount of temptation, we drove past the cable cars that took passengers up From a kilometer away or so, would of been fun to go on these, but the road signs took us to the foot of the cliff.

Back to the town I saw this mosque and church close together:

I was quite excited to visit this next place…

This tree is meant to be the one that Zacchaeus, the tax collector, climbed to see Jesus, as he couldn’t see him through the crowd.

Luke 19: 1  Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

 5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.  7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

 8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

 9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

I think its interesting that Jesus asked him quite bluntly that he needed to stay at his house that night, where as in the culture of the UK, we would probably feel more embarrased about having to ask someone we had only just met if we could stay over at short notice.   Here in the middle east, hospitality is such an important thing.

Theres no guarantee on the authenticity of this place, its interesting that the tree is burnt from being struck by lightening at some point.

The tree is well protected by these railings and there is no way to get right up to it, let alone use it as a place to see someone speaking in a crowded in a public place.   It does seem like a good place to imagine Jesus speaking in a prominant part of city though.

My friend didn’t buy this scarf in the end, the man selling them, taking our picture wanted too much for it, and these Palestinian scarves were made famous by Yasser Arafat, so not really someone in history that should be remembered fondly.

This was the last place in our brief day trip to Jericho is we went back to the hotel and showered and went out to church.

Sadly I didn’t get to see any traces of history of Jericho’s old city walls or inhabitants, seems this was on the other side of town.   Never mind I think I will be back here again.

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

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Jericho – 4. View of Jericho’s plain

Joshua 4: 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.
13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.
14  That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
15  Then the LORD said to Joshua,
16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”

Reading this makes me appreciate that Jericho is built on land thats completely flat.

All the towns I have seen in the non-coastal parts of Israel are mountainous.

So this is the view from the Mount of Temptation, now myself and Jeremy and Tim moved over to another part of the hill.   Seems to be quite a varied range of fruit being grown in fruit of the mount too.

Given that Jericho is meant to be the oldest city in the world, it makes sense to start building on the most easiest terrain here I guess!

No churches in the sky here, just where you come up if you use the cable car, and a nice restaurants with amazing views, some of the caves here been given some clever uses, one of them is a bird aviary, another one shown closer below, contains things for sale in bazaar.

This was good time to get ice cream 🙂

To the right of these railings and down into yet another cave covered by some beaded string door you go if you want to make a deal for any ornaments and souvienrs.

Back down the hill, going down hill was considerably less work, as I think I lost a litre of sweat at least going up here!!

At the foot of the cliff, I see this highly unusual bush.  Since I have been in Israel, I have got to try various unusual fruits I haven’t seen before, but these green things are something else.   They look vaguely citrussy but they are hollow and squeezable like almost flat balloons.   Can anyone tell me what they are, are they edible?

Next, off to see a much larger tree, without fruit, but some quite exciting background!!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

Jericho – 3. Church on the cliff

The must see place in Jericho is this:

An ancient church built on the side of the cliffs, not only that, which looks like a spectacular feat of construction of making it staying it up, but also its the likely place where Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days.

We didn’t use the cable car, it looks fun but we had already followed the signs to the place to this car park.  The cable car looks like it runs about a couple of kilometres away.

About half a millisecond after this picture was taken, I need to sharply remove my elbow as I realised this sign had got red hot from being the view of the sun from the 43c or so heat that day!

Me with Jeremy, after climbing up these steps during midday heat of the desert were dripping with sweat.

After a being a bit disappointed when getting to the big black door behind us which was locked, I thought I would knock it just for curiosity, and we were just about to leave when an Arab gentleman asked us to come in.

A Byzantine monastry was built in the 4th century, the present monastery of the Temptation was reconstructed at the end of the 19th Century, in the impressive impossibily standing place you see now.

In the hallway just inside the gate of the church, noticed this plant on the windowsill was covered in a newspaper that is in Greek, unusual, as I see newspapers in French and Russian, as well as Hebrew, Arabic and English of course, but never Greek before, but a reminder of the Greek Orthodox church who currently run this place.

This is like no other church I have ever seen!

Through another door way there was the chapel itself, not a lot of space at all for a congregation, but the painted ceilings were joined perfectly with the natural rock formation of the cliff, not sure how often cracks or other structural problems happen, but its an amazing place!

The man told us we were not allowed to take pictures inside for some reason, so sadly I can’t show the insides of the chapel.

Some scriptures showing this site:-

Luke 4 : 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.  

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

   “‘He will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Next, more exciting places up on the cliff!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

Jericho – 2. Jericho’s town centre

This fountain stands in the middle of the square in Jericho.   As it was close to or exceeding 40c today, I really wanted shove my face in it, with lots of people around I decided to be civilized I opted to soak my hat instead.

Right by the fountain, I spotted this old Arabic coffee flask, now this bus service I like, I am not certain, but it seems customers riding on this bus get some Arabic coffee before they hop on.  Even if this at extra cost, I think this is a great idea 🙂

Two things you see in Palestinian cities, butchers shops with mostly whole animals in the windows, and bright yellow taxis with green licence plates.

This logo seems to appear on cars and buildings owned by the Palestinian Authority.   I don’t like this at all, this eagle symbol reminds of another force from history…. Oh never mind.

We took a quick look in this phone and computer accessories shop.  My friend Jeremy wanted to get a case for his iPhone, this shop has these odd looking speakers which seem to be aimed as playback of music from a phone via USB or Bluetooth.  I notice Arab people often play music on their phone in the street, and probably use them to play Islamic prayers and teaching material.  By the way we were here a few days before the start of Ramadan.

The news seems to show all Palestinians as poor, but there is plenty of shops in the main cities like Jericho, Nabulus, Bethlehem, Ramalah and Gaza seem to have all type of businesses selling all the same goods you can find in Israeli cities.

I found the people of Jericho to be extremely friendly, not just the people that were trying to sell us stuff, people outside of shops and fast food places wanted to chat to us as we didn’t look Arab, so it was pleasant to chat to folk that we (well my two friends were on holiday from England, I didn’t mention about my reason for being here) and I didn’t see anyone else obviously foreign.

This particular iPhone 4 case here is distributed by a Palestinian company (you can just about make out the .ps domain address)

Apparently Jericho only has 20,000 people so it is quite a lot smaller than I thought it would be bigger being the oldest city in the world with a consistent population.

Soon! The mount of temptation where Jesus went to pray and fast, and I got to visit an old tree that had could of had some very special significance from the time of Jesus!!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

Jericho – 1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world

Heading to Jericho which is in Palestinian territories is only 40km from Jerusalem, This ancient city is somewhere I had always wanted to visit, and scouring the internet seems to not have much in the way of safety recommendations but seems popular with all kinds of visitors to the holyland, as some good friends from the UK were over it was a good chance to take a jolly over and investigate the oldest still inhabited city in the world….

After driving through an Israeli checkpoint, no action is needed as you only get ID’ed on the way out, so its just a case of driving slowly past a kiosk, a bit further is another checkpoint, just some concrete barriers and two soldiers from the Palestinian government who just asked for passport from my friend who was driving.

This picture was taken some distance away, and this is the best zoom I could do, as for obvious reasons I don’t want to be found taking pictures of any kind of checkpoint crossing anywhere!!   Seeing uniformed soldiers with their lapels in Arabic with Palestinian symbols was quite scary for a minute there!

I came to the city trying not to have any preconceived ideas, I have been to Bethlehem and passed through a few small Palestinian towns and also visited Arab Israeli cities like Nazareth and Akko.

This corner shop was the first business we came to.   CocaCola is a brand you find everywhere in the world, especially in this corner of the world and I remember somewhere, one of the Arab nations were trying to make an equivalent Cola drink for the middle east market.

This part of the West Bank is quite odd, there are old and new parts of Palestinian society together.   For instance, there are run down looking houses, factories and farms, and there are large overhead gantries over the main road advertising technology and home furnishing trade conventions.

This sign is for Jawwal, a Palestinian mobile phone operator.

This concrete wall, isn’t a separation barrier, or any kind of border, seems to be a fortified car park for police vehicles, it does look unfinished with unrendered concrete looking like just as a imposing as the wall I see next to Bethlehem about 3-4 miles from my house.  Maybe its inspired by the ancient walls of Jericho…

Next: to Jericho’s city centre!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree