By Pat Cantwell
Have you ever imagined being part of an archaeological dig in Israel? My first excavation was at Bethsaida with Dr. Romi Arav of the University of Nebraska. I was working on my Master’s Degree in Biblical Archaeology and I was traveling to archaeological sites in Israel and Jordan with Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University and a group of fellow students.
This is a funny story. First day we were supposed to be on the bus at 6 AM. Therefore, I was up at 3 AM to shower, wash my hair, do my makeup. OOPS, I woke up my roommate!
We arrived at Bethsaida located at the northern junction of the Jordan River with the Sea of Galilee. It is a delta region, extremely hot and humid. Jesus had cursed the city (and I could see why) and its location had been lost until the late 1800’s.
We walked up a long hill when Dr. Arav stopped in a shadeless area and began to lecture. The longer he lectured, the hotter I got. Soon I was melted like a Popsicle. My straightened hair was frizzed around my face, my clothes were sopping wet.
I was assigned to work in the gate chamber where there was not even a breath of fresh air. It was stifling! I was so grateful when we got down in the dirt, the cool dirt.
Finally, the first break of the day. I stumbled over the threshold stone at the city gate and as I was getting up I felt the coldness of the stone. So, I just laid my head down on that cold, cold stone.
I may have been a prissy person when I arrived but I was also a quick learner. The second day I slept until 5:30 AM, put on my filthy clothes, put my hair in a pony tail and with no makeup, and got on the bus. I remember thinking to myself, “I am so free now!” I was working on an assignment from the Lord and that was all that mattered.
Someone took my picture while I was lying on the stone threshold. Later, back home, I found Mark 8:22 which said Jesus brought a blind man out of the village of Bethsaida to heal him. It was then I realized that Jesus entered and exited across the very threshold stone on which I laid my head!
That is what archaeology is all about – meeting Jesus walking on this earth.
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