holyland tour



Jewish refugees fled here in 70 AD from the Romans

Jerusalem was still the most important site in the Christian world in 70 AD but the future was looking dark as the Roman army approached with the avowed determination to destroy the Jewish capital.

 Conversations like this probably took place with some regularity in Jerusalem in the late 60s AD when the Roman 10th Legion under the then general and soon to be Emperor/Caesar, Titus, was on its way, responding with the threat of brutal force against the building Jewish rebellion.

Seeds of revolution had taken root in post Jesus Palestine. Resentment against the Roman occupiers had blossomed into outright rebellion.
Jewish military leaders like Flavius Josephus of Galilee cautioned against this course of action but their cries went unheeded.

holy land tour, dr robert grant

David’s City of Jerusalem walls

It was now about 35 years since the resurrection of Jesus and Jerusalem was still the prime center of influence for the Christian movement. Under, for many years, the leadership of the recently dead Peter and James the brother of Jesus, a second generation of believers was now fully engaged in their mission.  The building political tension with Rome was seen by them as a threat to their preaching of the Gospel of the resurrected Savior.

And some may have recalled Jesus’ own prediction that the grand temple of Herod would be torn down and not a stone left on top of another. So the believing community had a premonition that this was not going to turn out well.
And, they recalled, Jesus had counseled them to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s so their deep felt interests lay elsewhere and so….. Where to go? was no doubt a topic of deep discussion.

There was no way that Rome would tolerate such rebellion as to do so would be viewed as weakness and no doubt birth similar rebellion across their vast empire.
Before Rome could attack, most of the believers decided to leave Jerusalem. But, where did they go?

According to the famous 4th century Christian historian Eusebius, they went to Pella, across the Jordan River, in what is now the modern Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and formerly the land of the Amorites in the Old Testament period.

Pella has a history going back thousands of years to when it was called Pehel during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom and Pihil during the more recent Egyptian New Kingdom when it was then referred to in the famous Amarna letters, as a center of commerce.

The remote remains of Pella have been uncovered by the archeologists beginning with the famous Edward Robinson in the mid 1800s.
Pella’s existence predates the time of the Christian immigration there by several thousand years. Cities like this always had a strategic reason for their location and Pella was no exception as it was located at the juncture of major East/West and North/South trade routes.

Extensive digging has taken place there over the years and little remains of the early 1st century period when the Christian influx occurred. Caves that have been enlarged by hand have been found and are thought to have been used by the Christian refugees. Speculation!

Also, a very old 1st century sarcophagus has been found that may date back to one of the Christians that fled there from Jerusalem. Again, speculation.

What intrigues me most was the discovery by myself that I had unknowingly passed very near to this site on more than one occasion during our many  Holy Land tours when traveling North along the Jordan River valley on our way to cross into Israel over the Jordan River at the South end of the Sea of Galilee.

We will probably do that again when I take some new friends with me to the Holy Land in February 2014 for 11 wonderful days. I hope that many of my new social networking friends will take advantage of the opportunity to come along with us. Such a terrific experience. Because I am personally overseeing all aspects of the journey this will make it comfortable for first time pastors along with their people  to have this experience with confidence.

Written by Dr. Robert Grant with gratitude to Biblical Archeology Review for updated information. Dr Grant has been traveling to the holy land  for 46 years, hosting special holy land tours for friends and has been designated by some as the holy land guru as a result of his more than 125 journeys there
July 24, 2013