This morning, Alon met up with us and gave us a ride to Arbel so that we could finish the section of the hike that we missed due to rain. Such a kind host, he did not have to do that as it was not in any way part of the tour. When we got to the park, the guard told us “you can’t bring a baby down the black route” very sternly. Alon looked at her and said, “no, you can’t bring a baby down it, but they can.” By now Alon has come to appreciate our hiking skills. To be fair, she was probably unaware of the baby carrier in the trunk. The trail had some steep parts that have iron handholds to help with the descent… The Arbel cliffs really are a highlight of the hike, it would have been a shame to leave them behind unhiked. The weather was mostly clear and sunny providing spectacular views of the Sea of Galilee from the descent.
The cliffs have a fascinating history. Bandits and rebels lived in them. When Herod the Great came to power, he invented the first elevator of sorts to reach the caves to get rid of them. The first group of Roman soldiers he lowered suffered a big fall though when those bandits caught the ropes on fire holding the elevator! The second batch of soldiers were not amused and used smoke to flush them out, dragging them from the caves with giant hooks. Here’s a view of just a few of the hundreds of caves.
After making our way down to Magdala, we grabbed more warm beverages from Aroma cafe and met a cab driver at about 11 AM who Alon had transferred. We had arranged to spend the afternoon in the ancient city of Shiloh an hour and a half drive south. The park was getting ready to close when we arrived due to Shabbat, which was a real blessing because we had it to ourselves! Literally we were the only ones there! They let us pass and told us they would be locking up and to let ourselves out when we were done exploring the site. WOW!
Shiloh has a special place in our hearts. This city is the name we gave to our daughter Shiloh (aka Cheerio). The word almost certainly comes from the Hebrew word Shalom meaning “peace”. The city was the spiritual center of Israel before Jerusalem, where it was home to the tabernacle hundreds of years, nearly as long as Solomon’s temple stood. Shortly before God used the Babylonians to destroy Solomon’s temple because of wickedness, He reminded them through His prophet Jeremiah that he had destroyed Shiloh because of disobedience. A powerful reminder that God values obedience.
“Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel.” – Jeremiah 7:12 ESV
During the years when the city was the center of spiritual life for the nation, a barren woman named Hannah prayed to the Lord there for a child and God answered her prayer with the man we know as Samuel. Early in our marriage, we also were not able to have children. We turned to the Lord and He gave us a verse- Psalm 34:4, which says “I sought the Lord and he answered me.” We sought the Lord diligently, and he answered our prayer! Shortly after hurricane Harvey hit, we were helping muck out houses that had been flooded, and there was a church from California serving alongside us. We had never met any of them before. Their pastor walked up to us and told us the Holy Spirit told him to ask us about our children and then gave us a word. It was the month our unconceived child was due! The prophesy came true (thankfully, would have been a shame if we had to stone the guy). Porter became pregnant the following month, and her due date was when he told us! It just seemed appropriate to name her Shiloh. Here we are in the likely place where the tabernacle once stood, thanking the Lord for the precious gift.
Hike the good hike,
Sherpa and Porter (and Cheerio)