GRACE AND THE GLORY OF GAMLA
September 12 Friday
In the coolest part of the day we left for Gamla in the Golan Heights. The Talmud describes walled Gamla as an ancient city dating from the time of Joshua. Josephus describes it as having been built on a very steep hill surrounded by cliffs. It could be reached only by one trail, the same one we took to see the impressive site of fallen structures. Here, 9,000 Jews lost their lives to a Roman victory, evidenced by hundreds of ballista balls and thousands of arrowheads and iron nails. The year was 67 C.E.
It was the remains of the synagogue, perched high on the edge of the valley, overlooking a vista of slopes meeting slopes that caught our attention. It may be the oldest synagogue discovered in Israel, apparently built during the Second Temple period.
Here, our prayers ascended, mingling with the many others that had arisen earlier. What prayers were spoken back then? Did parents cry unto God of Abraham for their children? Did young men and women pray for courage as imminent war threatened? Did they petition for mercy?
We prayed for courage to stand firm in "the last days". We asked for mercy upon friends who are experiencing severe health challenges. We petitioned for our children and grandchildren. We prayed for those who are still under threat of war.
We marvelled at the "inhabitants" of the terrain...the chameleon, so well camouflaged that I almost stepped on it, the community of butterflies, the wild giant fennel, the most delicate of Star-of-Bethlehem blossoms. The vultures and eagles gave us a spectacular display as they soared and glided on air currents without much movement of their powerful wings.
We praised and worshipped.
...those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength:
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not get weary.
PS: Since we are still experiencing computer problems, photographic images of Gamla are not included. The image used you will recognise as Masada. Gamla is in fact a more important site than Masada in the story the Jew's defense against the Romans, but for reasons, some of which quite understandable, Masada was chosen as the symbol of the defense of Israel. The tee-shirts should really read, "Gamla shall never fall again".