Monthly Archives: July 2013


Israel is a multifaceted place and has a history that goes back more than 4000 years to the time of Abraham. You are aware of the Old Israel

BUT probably not at all  aware of the New Israel. It is quite eyeopening to view

You may  have a partial picture in your mind of what it might be like based upon pictures you have seen over the years

But you really don’t know what the Israel of  Today is like until you either go there on a Holy Land Tour such as offered by

OR view this fabulous video.

Dr Robert Grant

aka The Holy land Guru





For more than 40 years I have traveled frequently to the lands of the Bible. When I headed up the California Graduate School of Theology we made this experience part of the curriculum.

And now I have invested my full energies and time to building the website and promoting the opportunity for pastors, even those of  of smaller churches to be able to actually travel to the Holy Land.

All you need to cover most of your out of pocket is 5 friends traveling with you.

So WHY am I doing this?   The answer is BECAUSE.       Because actual real time spent in the Holy Land will take a good preacher/teacher and help make him a great preacher and teacher.

Many claim that 10 or 11 days in the Holy Land can be more beneficial than a year of seminary.     I concur.

And so my energies are NOW being focused on helping pastors (some for the first time) have this life changing experience and removing the obstacles that may stand in their path.

(1)   One of the main obstacles is the cost.     Most pastors cannot afford the expense. Neither could I when I took my first group from our church in California. Now by hosting a small group of friends (as few as 5 people) it is possible for most if not all of the cost of the journey to be covered for you.

(2)   Another obstacle is lack of experience.     One of the main obstacles for first time pastors seems to be a reluctance to invite people to travel to the Holy Land with them when they have not already had this experience themselves.

That is understandable      UNLESS!         And I am the “UNLESS”  FACTOR.      The solution is to travel on a departure when I am also  personally  going and when I can oversee everything for you. Like December 2014 or January 2015   for example. Other dates will also be offered.

When you travel with me, along with  your people, I will be personally overseeing every detail of the journey for you, and so your people are assured of a terrific time and you are not expected to do anything or know anything that you are not comfortable doing. And you can therefore maximize the value of the experience for yourself. That is what I want for you.

Currently through LinkedIn I am connected to well over 2000 pastors, most of whom, I suspect,  have never been to the Holy Land. Are you one of them? I want to change that.

This is something that you CAN do. It really is. And I will help you at every step along the way.

If you are interested email me at or call me at 386 447 9473.

I want to make this happen for you.

God bless.


Dr  Robert Grant aka The Holy Land Guru








Robert Grant PhD


Someone once wrote ”You can’t go home again” and I thought “How foolish….of course you can!”

And then I revisited, after many years, Toronto the city of my youth and Port Carling the town of my early summers and, in the process, discovered the underlying truth of that maxim “Don’t be surprised if you can’t find it!”


Change when viewed from up close and over time is gradual and insidious. That same accumulated change, when experienced abruptly, is jolting and harsh. And that is what 50 years does to memories and certainties.


Traveling up Jameson Avenue, now a major north/south traffic artery, took me past row upon row of high rise apartments where once stood stately Victorian houses. The Fifth Dimension’s plaintive “They’re pouring concrete on a part of me” suddenly became existentially real and gut wrenching.

The streets where as a 10 year old I delivered newspapers, the sidewalk where I fell and smashed my nose, the street where the old bewhiskered Jewish merchant drove his horse drawn wagon in search of junk, the street where the ice and bread came from the back of a truck….all gone. But, I reasoned, some things like schools and major institutions resist change and should convey at least some sense of permanence. But, no, the familiar façade of Parkdale Collegiate is gone and so is the wide expanse of grass that graced its approach and the ball field to the left and the empty field to the right. All gone, and in their place an inexplicable hodge podge of architectural diarrhea utterly without grace or beauty and all crowding impatiently up to the edge of the street. But I played there …on the grass…and my first puppy Chummy died right there at the curb after being struck by a car…..all gone as though they never existed!

 Up the street where, after World War Two, women opened beauty parlors in their front rooms to make a living, I would, as a child, walk to Webbers Tobacco Store on the north side of Queen Street where I would sit by the hour reading their comic books and they would repeatedly rebuke me…. nothing looked familiar. The storefront dimensions dictated by the original builders are all of a kind, but the facades and the people of yesteryear are all gone. Gone too is Doakes Drugstore at the corner of Lansdowne and Queen with its cool, high, tin covered  ceiling and  pre air conditioned interior, and its unique ice cream creations called Mellow Rolls that required you to settle the column of ice cream (only strawberry, vanilla and chocolate) on the cone and then carefully unwrap the column and finally, once the ice-cream was naked, snatch off the cardboard top and only then begin to enjoy it. One school was not enough so on I went to search for Queen Victoria Public School where I spent 9 years with never an absence or lateness, a 10 minute walk through a strange and unfamiliar neighborhood, down formerly cobblestone paving and only to discover that the same malady that struck Parkdale had worked its havoc on Queen Victoria as well.

 I had such a clear memory of  how it looked in 1943 when I was enrolled in kindergarten there in the south end of that long hallway with rooms off each side progressing from the 1st grade room next door where spinster, be-corseted Miss Clark wrapped the knuckles of unminding charges, to the room at the other end of the hall where, as an 8th grader I was intimidated by the demanding teacher who also doubled as the senior sports coach.

The building I saw now had not evolved but had somehow vomited in all directions into an ugly mess. I could not determine if the old that I knew and remembered had become encapsulated in the midst of the new or been obliterated and replaced. If I walked through those unfamiliar and unwelcoming doors would I find some vestige of that original building with its long hallway awaiting rediscovery? I did not have the heart to look.


Driving through downtown Toronto proved no less disconcerting. Nothing, save major buildings like the Old City Hall and the Museum  looked familiar it seemed and everywhere people of every ethnic group imaginable scrambled past each other and bounced off each other in a mad pursuit  of what I could not divine.  I drove down major arteries like Yonge St and Queen and Danforth and nothing was familiar. And to my astonishment things that had not changed, that I had known well in my youth like the house  I lived in on Poplar Plains Rd, were just as unfamiliar to me now as those abused by time.


Conclusion: History tends to treat most cavalierly and with disinterest unless they are extremely virtuous, dramatically creative, or infamous rogues . The pebble hits the water…the ripples go out for an oh so brief time…. and then, it is as if they never existed. And so it has ever been ….and so it is.

So if you must go home, don’t be surprised to find that it does not exist.

by Dr Robert Grant The  Holy Land Guru


Several years ago we sold our  ketch sailboat and bought Cruzan our salvaged Marine Trader trawler.

I must confess that I still miss sailing and find that putting along at 6 knots is a tad boring.  And so this explains why I responded as I did when the phone recently rang.


That day began uneventfully with a phone call from my young friend John who  lives on a 44’ Gulfstar sailboat which I had helped him acquire from salvage years ago. Finally after several years of rehabilitation, it was ready to sail.

This was to be my first journey off shore on “Early Out”.  I eagerly looked forward to it.  She is as they say a stout and seaworthy craft of about 20 tons.

The NOA weather report warned of heavy weather coming across St Augustine Florida that afternoon. While motoring out the channel into the ocean from the St Augustine harbor in the late morning we frequently looked behind at the looming black front that showed up clearly on the GPS unit and that now lurked ominously all across the horizon behind us. We could see it.  Angry looking thing that it was.

The storm was predicted to quickly cross the city and then rush out to sea and so our plan was to go south as fast as the sails would enable us and try to outrun the storm so that it would pass to our stern and provide an exciting ride in the process. Not an unusual decision.

My wife and I owned our large ketch when we lived near  the Chesapeake Bay and the sounding of the  local “small craft advisory” warning there was  our signal to go sailing.

It was now early afternoon and cloudy and we were romping right along about 2 miles off shore on a southern course with a fine wind in the sails and prepared for an exciting bit of sailing not knowing that we were momentarily about to experience the full fury of nature at its fiercest…..Then suddenly, I can only surmise what was a water spout, exploded right on top of us and that’s where stupidity and carelessness hit home big time.

That angry black weather front must have suddenly accelerated.

All of a sudden total chaos overtook us and we were in a world of trouble.

It was as though we had been seized by a giant hand and roughly thrown about. This almost 40,000 lb. boat was like a child’s toy in the bathtub. We spun around in more than one complete circle and the water deluged down on us in the cockpit as though someone was aiming a fire hose directly into our faces.

John was no more than 18” away from me during this madness yet I could not make him out as we both held on for dear life and the boat did what it did completely without any restraint, spinning and the rails buried in the water. Suddenly there was an explosion as the fully set almost new mainsail shattered into a thousand pieces and a loose dock line fell overboard and wrapped around the propeller thus stopping the engine dead.

Not a good thing! No engine and no sail. Not good at all!

How long did this bedlam actually last?

I truly do not know. It seemed like forever but probably was only minutes long, but in that brief period of time, lots of lessons were learned, and consequences of unwise decisions reaped.

Strangely I felt no fear through this experience, only a sense of sudden desperation and the instinctive urge to hold on to whatever was available to grab that was anchored firmly to the boat.

I had confidence that this strong boat would see us through and knew that most people who are lost at sea die because they are separated from the boat which usually survives its occupants.

I quickly learned that the stainless steel structure of the bimini that I had instinctively grabbed was not one of those things firmly anchored to the boat. Though apparently secure at first glance, it was actually lacking a few bolts and so it too came crashing down on our heads in the midst of the chaos.

The fury of the storm passed as quickly as it arrived and we began to pick up the pieces and recover.

Down below the contents of every drawer and shelf was strewn on the floor in a sopping mess. Food, books, bedding, clothing, tools, all strewn together in a foul soup of bedlam and then there was the hypothermia that set in.

And the fouled prop? Took John about 8 dives without a tank and with a not so sharp knife to free the 1” line from the prop so we could restart and use the engine.

Lots of lessons learned such as:

Flotation devices are of absolutely no use when safely stored in a locker.

Foul weather gear is worthless if it is not zipped shut in front.

Loose dock lines are almost guaranteed to find their way to a propeller.

Good idea to have a sharp knife available.

Lock up any beer if anyone on board is inclined to imbibe.

Sails are meant for use in sailing weather not for exposure to gales…in this case I am told 70 mph wind.

And finally, it is a good idea to close all of the hatches before the storm hits.    Duh!!

And so we began limping back to harbor wet and cold and with John, I discovered, more than a little shall we say sheets to the wind from visiting his beer supply, and the confusing navigation was now up to me….me.

Getting darker and Oooops, no navigation lights!

Seems the batteries were depleted and the lights would not work and so with darkness closing in on us we finally made it back to the dock and safety and some welcome warm food.

Bottom line: “Early Out” has a few things to correct and a new mainsail to acquire but she is a fine vessel and one that I would not hesitate to go off shore on anytime John calls me. If she can bring us through a brutal water spout safely then she can take us anywhere.

And one final thought. I am really glad that I was not on board our old trawler when this occurred as I am not at all sure she would have made it through this challenge. But then I would not have been so stupid as to take that risk.

Sailboats are sailboats and trawlers are trawlers and you better know the difference.

By Dr. Robert Grant aka The Holy Land Guru

Now on   and

July 28, 2013.



Everyone who goes to Jerusalem recognizes the impressive gold domed building called the Dome of the Rock.

Most fail to notice the other less glamorous major building that now occupies the South end of the same raised platform which was  built by Herod the great at the time of Jesus. This second building is quite large and figures importantly in Islam as its 3rd most revered site.

It is called the al Aqsa mosque or al haram ash sharif  aka  The Noble Sanctuary.

This is the top of temple Mount where prominemt Muslim shrines are located

This is the top of temple Mount where prominemt Muslim shrines are located

Question: Is it possible that some of the massive timbers used to build this mosque in the 7th century could date back to the time of Solomon 1700 years earlier? or at least back to Herod the Great and Jesus some 700 years earlier? Seems there is reason to consider this possibility seriously.

It is interesting to consider the idea that part of a Temple, holy to the Jews, could now actually be an integral part of one of Islam’s most revered places.

Ironic one might say!

It needs to be understood that such huge cedar timbers used for the construction of the Temple of Solomon and later Herod were extremely difficult to acquire and very expensive to purchase and so, whenever available later in history, they would always be recycled into other buildings.

It is apparent that such huge cedar timbers have been used in the construction of the al Aqsa mosque and it is thought that they may date back to the time of Solomon making them 3000 years old. In fact they may well have been recycled more than once and perhaps also used in the Temple of Herod of Jesus’ day.

The Biblical record of the estimated 950 BC harvesting of such timbers is quite interesting as it describes the enormous expense and effort expended in taking delivery of these prized timbers brought at great expense and difficulty from modern Lebanon.

You will recall that King David was forbidden by God to build this Temple because he had blood on had hands  and that the responsibility for such construction was reserved for his son Solomon to fulfill.

And so Solomon, like David his father before him,  appealed to Hiram king of Sidon (read Lebanon) for his help. Hiram’s men were experienced wood cutters. He also controlled the mountain area where the huge cedar trees grew and still grow today.

(An interesting aside: The cedar tree that figured so prominently in its history is  the emblem of the modern country of Lebanon. You will also see it painted on the tail section of the official Lebanese airlines. Also note this special wood was also used by the ancient Egyptians for boat construction such as the huge solar boat discovered buried at the base of the Great Pyramid in Giza. The Philistines also used it in their temples.

When we go to the Sea of Galilee on the Holy Land tours I conduct annually we will see the 1st century fishing boat discovered buried in the mud of the Sea of Galilee and now on display in a special museum on the north shore near Capernaum. It is made mostly of cedar as well. They call it the “Jesus boat”. )

All very interesting.)

And so Hiram readily agreed to Solomon’s request. Solomon  offered to pay him well.

Hiram said:  “I have received your message and I will supply all the cedar timber you need. My servants will bring the logs from the Lebanon mountains to the Mediterranean Sea”   (an enormous challenge)    “and make rafts and float them along the coast to whatever place you choose. Then they will break the rafts apart so you can carry the logs away”.    (another enormous task transporting these huge timbers from the port of Jaffa , read Jaffa/Tel Aviv, all the way up to Jerusalem, approximately 36 miles but also an increase in elevation of about 3500 feet) “You can pay me by providing me with food for my household,” said Hiram.  1 Kings 5.

The record states that Solomon provided Hiram with an enormous supply of olive oil and wheat in return for the timber.

Solomon’s part of the needed labor force was also huge.

Building this temple was an enormous undertaking and a religious duty that Solomon eagerly embraced.

He employed teams of 10,000 men at a time in Lebanon, working for one month and then having 2 months off, thus requiring 30,000 laborers just in the timber business part of this project.

In addition he also had over 150,000 other workers engaged in the project.

So these cedar timbers could well have quite a history to reflect back upon.

It took 7 years for Solomon’s workers to complete this project.

Back to the Al Aqsa Mosque. The platform where this Mosque now stands was originally erected by Herod the Great at the time of Jesus to be the platform on which to build a replacement for the temple of Solomon that had been destroyed hundreds of years earlier.

Nearby the present Mosque is what, at the time of Jesus, was called the “pinnacle of the temple” where Satan tempted Jesus to commit suicide. This is the high point of the platform walls at the corner where the Southern and Eastern walls come together as you view it from afar.

Under the platform on which the al Aqsa Mosque now stands is a remarkable structure of Herodian columns built to support the weight of the upper floor of the vast platform. Mostly filled with rubble it is mistakenly called Solomon’s Stables under the mistaken notion that Solomon used this for his horses. Not true.

The al Aqsa Mosque has been repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt over the years, often as a result of earthquake. Unlike the golden covered Dome of the Rock which is built on Rock, the Al Aqsa mosque rests on fill dirt.

On a recent Friday during the month of Ramadan it is reported that 155,000 Muslims came there to pray.

Visiting the Temple Mount is always a high point of the Holy Land tours we take to the Middle East, now well over 125 such journeys to the Bible lands.

Although it is in Israeli territory, control of the Temple Mount  was ceded by the Israeli General Moshe Dyan (the guy with the eye patch) (some say foolishly )  to the Palestinian Authority after the 6 day war in 1967. So the Arabs now control who can go there or not. Security is tight. A long elevated walkway has been built for access complete with metal detectors.

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Although I have been on top of the Temple Mount innumerable times I have never entered the al Aqsa Mosque.

Next time I am there in February 2014,  I will go inside and try to see if any of those famous recycled timbers possibly  purchased by Solomon or by Herod are in view.

BTW:  Our next journey to the Holy Land is scheduled for February 2014 when we will be taking some new friends with us to Turkey, Jordan and Israel for 11 wonderful days.

Information about that journey can be found on the website.

If you have not yet had the ultimate travel experience then we invite you to consider coming with us. And if you are a pastor you are encouraged to invite your church members to accompany you as well on this journey so that your expenses can be fully covered. Only 3 couples needed for you to  accomplish this goal. Not difficult at all.  I will be fully engaged in overseeing all aspects of the experience so you don’t need prior experience.

Dr.  Robert Grant has been traveling to the Holy land for over 46 years hosting special holy land tours for friends. He has been designated the holy land guru by some.


With warm appreciation to Biblical Archeology Review for updated information.

July 25, 2013