Feb 11, 2023 | Gilbert's Journal


Day 4 of our Bible Study Tour was a deep immersion into Old Testament history. From our overnight hotel in the heart of Palestine (Taybeh), we continued to Shiloh, then to Bethel and ended up in Jerusalem.


During our bus ride, our hearts were prepared through a reading of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and the context of this new era in the history of Israel helped us appreciate what we were about to see.
The period preceding the birth of Samuel was one of the darkest in Israel’s history – under the Judges. From Gideon to Samson, Israel experienced an intense moral and spiritual downward spiral. Samuel then emerges as a glimmer of hope in the midst of such a dark backdrop.
But all of the great things that followed did start with the humble prayer of Hannah, the mother of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1-18).
During our visit to the site, we watched an incredible movie about this period in history and ended up visiting the place where the tabernacle rested for over 300 years. Shiloh became the capital of Israel for that entire period as the tribes would converge three times a year for the Jewish feasts.
With the help of a local guide, we were led through centuries of profound religious history and gained an insightful perspective on the value of sacrifice. (Insight from a local guide in Shiloh)
We could also use our imagination to picture Samuel moving from one location to another in this hilly Region, to help re-unite Israel.


On our way to Bethel we read another relevant passage of Scripture to prepare our minds for the key features of the site – Jacob’s encounter with God (Scripture Reading Genesis 28:10-18).
While visiting the site, we were able connect the dots with our previous visit of Tel Dan with King Jeroboam’s plans to create alternative worship venues in order to prevent the Jews from going to worship in Jerusalem. Our tour guide qualified this as an A (minus) – there’s every likelihood that this was where Jeroboam built the second altar unless future archaeological findings reveal a better nearby location. (Scripture reading at Bethel: 1 Kings 12:25-33)


Our entrance into Jerusalem was characterized by a stopover at Mount Scopus, a vantage point, to view the site of the ancient temple of Jerusalem and overlook some important parts of the city.
This was the closest point where Jewish exiles were allowed to stand and view the temple from a distance after they were conquered by the Babylonians. The first time I visited in 2017, I was speechless when we got to this vantage point. This time, I was reminded of a childhood song based on Psalm 122. (Reading Psalm 122) and (Singing Psalm 122.)

Our tour guide was also able to point us to key areas we will be visiting in the course of the following days – places like the city of David, Hezekiah’s tunnel, the garden of Gethsemane, the Temple Mount, the Via Dolorosa etc.

On Day 5, we will be heading to Bethlehem – in the Palestinian part. Thanks for your prayers for our safety and for the peace of Jerusalem!


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