Middle East: Field Studies with JUC

15 March, 2019

This past week was our second and final week at Jerusalem University College. After taking our first test Saturday morning and a free afternoon, we started off strong with field studies again Sunday morning. This past week was quite a bit different from our first week at Jerusalem University College as we spent much of our days and nights on the field.

With Kaitlyn, our instructor, we traversed the Mediterranean coast from Ashkelon to Cesarean Maritma, explored the hot dry southern area of the Negev, visited the Golan up by Syria, and sailed across the Sea of Galilee by way of Capernum. We learned in freezing wind, scorching heat, hail, and ate countless pita sandwiches. We also visited many tels  and ruins of historical significance such as Kirebet Qumran, Beer Sheeba, Ceasarea Philipi, Magdala,  Megiddo, and Dan (in fact there are over 35 places where I recorded notes). Now, thanks to Kaitlyn, we can all locate said places on a map, describe its soil type, draw the major routes which go through it, and name the Bible story which took place there.

Learning and reading Bible stories in their actual locations will forever change the way in which I read the text. It is still surreal to think of all the places we walked, and my understanding of the Bible has grown from standing in Caesarea where Paul was imprisoned, the ruins of Megiddo where Josiah dies, and Mt. Carmel where the Israelites worshiped Bael.  The most impactful story was seeing the types of rock which Moses hit in the wilderness of the Negev instead of speaking to it like he was supposed to.   This rock usually has water built up behind it, thus Moses striking it was not a reflection of Gods power, as it was when he struck the rock in the Sinai, but rather a portrayal of his own selfishness. Learning this information transformed how I understand this particular story.  Kaityln also continually encouraged us to examine our own faith and ask deep questions such as: what do we as people of faith do when the archeology and the text don’t line up?

While we spent much of the week taking in and processing vast amounts of information, we had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves and soak in this once in a lifetime experience we are having. Some highlights included swimming-rather floating in the Dead Sea, hiking Hippus at sunrise, and Isaac Alderfer beating the JUC record of running up Masada by one second with a time of 2:31. My own personal highlight was the hotel we stayed at which was right on the Sea of Galilee. Not only was the buffet scrumptious, but our bungalows were right on the water which served as a beautiful backdrop to our academic learning. The proximity to the sea was perfect for morning swimming as well as sunset swimming, and, of course, night swims.

Now, after taking our last test, our time at JUC has come to a close and we are all splitting off in groups for our free travel, for a much needed break before we transition to the next part of our program.

-Anisa Leonard


Middle East 2019 group at Giza