B is for Bethlehem
O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The ever lasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
Just to clarify, Bethlehem is actually in Palestine. We spent a day in Bethlehem on our recent trip to Israel so I wanted to share a little.
First of all, due to some regulations, our Israeli tour guide was unable to tour with us on our day in Palestine so the bus driver drove us to Bethlehem and we picked up Ramsey, a Palestinian Christian. Ramsey was a great tour guide for the day and he started our time of touring by reciting the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, which is probably the everyday language that Jesus would have spoken.
Living in the US, we move freely from state to state and can even cross over the border into Mexico or Canada fairly easily. If a Palestinian wants to work in Israel, he or she must go through the border checkpoint which can take up to 3 hours each way. The wages are 3-4 higher in Israel so many Palestinians want to work in Israel. I’m sure there is way more politics involved in all of this and it is way beyond my discussion level. I had just jotted down those notes.
I felt totally safe in Palestine – seems like the media often makes things seem worse than they are plus we were in the tourist areas.
So . . .on to the fun stuff.
We were traveling with EO tours and they like to support Christians working in Palestine so in 2016 and again in 2018 we had a tour of the Nissan wood working shop and we received “special discounts” in the store. I spent the most money in this store on both trips.
lots of olive wood
waiting to be carved
some items are carved by
hand and are VERY
expensive. Other items are carved using
machines. Both techniques are
used on some items.
|inside the shop|
The restaurant where we ate lunch is right next door and both the restaurant and the shop are owned by the same family (maybe brothers??). The restaurant is a giant ballroom with many tables. Food is served buffet style with chicken, fish, salads, etc.
There are many street vendors trying to sell flutes and scarves and all sorts of tourist items and they practically accost you in the parking lot. One young boy kept blowing the flute . . .and blowing the flute . . .and it was a shrill high pitched sound.
We also visited Shepherd’s Field. There is a cave that is attached to a Catholic chapel/church and we were inside the cave with several monks from Egypt. We all sang “Angels We Have Heard on High” together and that is one of the few times where I totally teared up (I am not a crier!). I also have “O Little Town of Bethlehem” written in my notes so I’m wondering if we sang that, also. On the hillside outside the cave, you can walk out onto walkways and see where caves dotted the hillside. Shepherds were considered a lower class citizen during the time period of Jesus’ birth so it is quite a big deal that they were the first ones to receive the word that a Savior was born.
|inside the cave|
shepherd's field with
caves visible in hillside
We toured the Church of the Nativity. We waited in a long line to touch the star (sort of like X marks the spot) where Mary gave birth and the area where the manger was possibly located. We know that these may or may not be the actual sites but it is cool to think that just possibly Mary and Joseph were there with baby Jesus. The location is ornate now but it isn’t hard to imagine what times would have been like 2000 years ago – stone streets, poor accommodations, definitely a humble beginning.
waiting in line at Church
of the Nativity
|star in the floor|
|possible location of manger|
Have you ever been to Bethlehem?