The bus left a few minutes after 8, despite the (I’d have to call them) threats from the Discovery Ministry folks that if we weren’t on the bus 10 minutes early we’d be left behind. Clearly they’re really softies. 😉
We drove through the streets of Tel Aviv, north of our hotel, heading for Caesarea. Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel, its largest city (by population), and the governmental and social and cultural center of the city. Our guide put it this way: the social rhythm of Israel is best represented there. Shopping, night life, food, etc. Jerusalem, on the other hand is the spiritual center of the nation. We’ll visit there at the end of the week.
An old section of Tel Aviv (just south of our hotel) is Jaffa (called Joppa in Biblical times). As we drove, we recanted the story of Peter’s staying with Simon the Tanner in Joppa in Acts 9-10. There, he saw a vision of unclean animals being lowered from heaven in a sheet, and an angel told him to take and eat. As a Jew, that was a serious violation of the law, so of course Peter was repulsed. However, God was orchestrating the spread of the gospel to the entire world, including the gentiles. Moments after his vision, three men showed up at Simon’s house – mess angers sent from a Roman centurion living in Caesarea named Cornelius. The men said to go with them, and the angel reinforced that he should, so Peter undertook the day long journey (it is about 35-40 miles) from Joppa to Caesarea.
Joppa, by the way, was also a center of commerce in ancient times. Among other things, this was the site where the cedars of Lebanon where received as they were shipped down the east coast of the Mediterranean sea to be transported to Jerusalem for the construction of Solomon’s temple.
Joppa is also the city from which Jonah set sail for Tarshish to rebel against God’s call to preach the gospel to Nineveh.
On the way to Caesarea, driving through Tel Aviv, our guide pointed out how people are constantly driving into the city. He made a point of being aghast at the horrible traffic driving south as we headed north out of town. Of course, I’m from Chicago, so it was nothing in my eyes, but for them, I guess it was a parking lot. The city seemed poorer than I expected. It looked like the kind of area in Chicago you wouldn’t want to go alone. I didn’t see any McDonald’s either. Both these things surprised me. It was fairly clean, though. It just looked run down and there were lots of vacant storefronts, etc. It was clear a lot of people lived in a small area, because everything was high rises. We also saw a lot of balcony gardens, and every room had a solar heating and power system on it. There wasn’t much in the way of modern architecture in Tel Aviv, but a little ways north we drove through “the Silicon Valley of Israel”, where I saw offices for Microsoft and a number of other high-tech companies. This was definitely a valley of glass and steel, but there wasn’t much of that in Tel Aviv.