Upper Galilee/Golan Heights July 2015

So it’s time to start my blogs on each adventure.  I have delayed LONG enough!!

This is first of many posts of sites, this is Upper Galilee trip.  I have stewed and stewed over my external hard drive, my old laptop, my new laptop and several other locations, but I just can’t seem to find ALL the photos we took when we spent 4 days in the Upper Galilee (from the Nikon camera) This serves me right for not doing all photo downloads and blog/journaling right away!! This has left me in tears, but also smiles of “well, we just have to go back to these sites, oh darn” Believe me, its just THAT beautiful!!

So, there are over 50 National Parks in Israel.  Once you buy a yearly family park pass, which is only about 100 bucks or so, you have access into these parks with your pass.  Some of these parks can be just a quick day trip being only 30 mins away, all the way to about 2 hours away.  We spent a few days at a Zimmer (a rental home, happened to be a cabin this time) where we drove to about 4 or 5 parks with in a few minutes drive from one another.


This post is about Nimrods Fortress, a Medieval Muslim Castle, its located in the Golan Heights on the Southern Slopes of Mount Hermon. It was built with the purpose of guarding a major access route to Damascus against armies coming from the west.  Built in 1229. Enjoy reading more about it here.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrod_Fortress



This was taken from the Northern section of the castle, looking south through the Golan


This castle sits on the borders of Lebanon and Syria. In the far north region of Israel.


That is close enough. Lebanon border

This Castle is huge (some 420 meters in length and 150 meters in width!)  to roam around and see the wonderful sites.  It was also so nice to have a beautiful breeze since it was pushing almost 100 degrees in all the other areas we were hiking.


The northern section of the Castle behind us. Met a lovely family from Chicago here, who took our photo for us!


Driving away you see this amazing site and see how massive it really is!

We also took a day to Raft down the Dan river, a tributary to the Jordan river. It was a very warm day, but the temperature of the water was a stable 63 degrees! This was a fun time, the river was in its low stage, so it was just a relaxing raft float, with one tiny man-made “rapid” which the kids screamed and giggled the whole way through the 2 foot drop of waterfall!





We visited Tel Dan next. Which we went back twice in one day because we missed a major section! Tel Dan is the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, which the tribe of Dan relocated to after abandoning their granted allocation of land from God.  This Tel has so much history, so below is a short description if you would like to read, because I am no theologian and I seriously am learning and reading and studying scripture at every place to go to, reading and seeing is a whole new ball game!!

Read on if you really want to… 🙂

Bronze age:According to the Book of Judges: prior to the Tribe of Dan occupying the land, the town was known as Laysha (Judges 18:7 and Isaiah 10:30, לישה) or Laish (elsewhere Judges 18) – which root the Hebrew poets applied also to the lion (Job 4:11, Proverbs 30:30 and Isaiah 30:5). The Egyptians cursed Laish in the Execration Tablets; later, Tuthmosis III conquered the town “ra-wy-sa” along others. In Joshua 19:47 it is called Leshem, which means “jewel”.

According to Judges concerning Micah’s Idol, the Tribe of Dan did not at that point have any territory to their name (Judges 18:1), and so, after scouting out the land, eventually decided to attack Laish, as the land around it was fertile, and the town was demilitarised.

Tel Dan – Excavation and reconstruction of the Eastern Bronze Age gate

The Bible describes the Tribe of Dan brutally defeating the people of Laish and burning the town to the ground, and then building their own town in the same spot. The narrative states that Laish subsequently became known as Dan, after the name of the tribe, and that it housed a sanctuary filled with idols, which remained in use until the time of captivity of the land and the time that the house of God ceased to be in Shiloh.

The excavators of Tel Dan uncovered a city gate made of mud bricks on top of megalithic basalt standing stones, estimated to have been built around 1750 BC. Its popular name is Abraham’s gate, due to the Biblical story that Abraham traveled to Dan to rescue his nephew Lot. Genesis 14:14:

“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.”


The gate was restored in the late 2000’s



The Tel Dan Stele; Within the remains of the city wall, close to the entrance of the outer gate, parts of the Tel Dan Stele were found.


Standing in the gate

The basalt stone bears an Aramaic inscription referring to one of the kings of Damascus; the excavators of the site believe that the king it refers to is Hazael (c 840 BCE) A small part of the inscription remains, with text containing the letters ‘ביתדוד‘ (BYTDWD), which some archaeologists agree refers to House of David (Beth David in Hebrew.[19] In the line directly above, the text reads ‘MLK YSR’L’, i.e. “King of Israel”. Hebrew script from the era is vowel-less), which would make the inscription the first time that the name David has been found at an archaeological site dating before 500 BCE.

 Dan suffered in the era of expansion by the Aramaeans, due to being the closest city to them in the kingdom of Israel. The several incursions indicated by the Book of Kings suggest that Dan changed hands at least four times between the Kingdom of Israel and Aramaeans, around the time that Israel was ruled by Ahab and the Aramaeans by Ben Hadad I, and their successors. Around this time, the Tel Dan stele was created by the Aramaeans, during one of the periods of their control of Dan. When the Assyrian empire expanded to the south, the kingdom of Israel initially became a vassal state, but after rebelling, the Assyrians invaded, the town fell to Tiglath-pileser III in 733/732 BCE.


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Waterfalls of Iyon Stream just north of Metulla. We didn’t get to do this full hike, it was close to the end of the day and we had pushed the kids for 2 days straight, that and the 100 degrees temp made us stop after a short hike to one of the falls. We plan on going back and seeing the Spring time here, which we have heard is simply beautiful with miles and miles of flowers.

Hermon Stream Nature Reserve is a site that has multiple trail options to do, we did Banias Springs and the Crusaders City.

Banias is the Arabic and modern Hebrew name of an ancient site that developed around a spring once associated with the Greek god Pan, in the vicinity of the town of Caesarea Philippi. The site contains a spring which is located at the foot of Mount Hermon, north of the Golan Heights, and constitutes one of the main sources of the Jordan River. Archaeologists uncovered a shrine dedicated to Pa n and related deities, and the remains of an ancient city founded sometime after the conquest by Alexander the Great and inhabited until 1967; the ancient city was mentioned in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark by the name of Caesarea Philippi.




I can’t say it enough, this whole opportunity has been so amazing already. We have done so much in the short 6 months we have been here and I am already begging David to see if the Air Force can somehow let us stay in Israel a few more years, because 18 months is NOT enough. Although, trust me, there are days I want to crawl into a box and ship myself back to the states for multiple reasons (the biggest stress is Israeli drivers!!)

So, again, this was a trip we took over 5 months ago and this is proof I need to write our adventures right after we take them!

More to come!!

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