Ilaniya to Moshav Arbel in First-Century Costume
Day two of the hike began with a light rain before dawn but as the sun rose we knew it was going to be a beautiful day. We ate boiled eggs, bread and cheese, and dried dates for breakfast, then hit the trail. In a few minutes we came to a major highway junction where we encountered many inquisitive looks and photos out car windows. A busload of children waved to us as they passed. We waved back.
Shortly after crossing the busy Golani Junction, we passed by ruins of an ancient Roman road. The road had been walked on by so many feet. Thousands of years of rain and sun had smoothed the stones. Was this what Jesus was talking about when he told his followers to carry something two miles if someone asks you to carry it one? Did he envision a Roman soldier demanding help on this prominent highway stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to Damascus?
As the simple trail wound away from impressive highways, we wandered through heaps of flowers, muddy tracks through olive orchards and bright green farm fields. The way sloped up to the high point known as the Horns of Hattin. From the green and sunny heights we could look out on hills, valleys and farm land for miles around. The Sea of Galilee glimmered through the Arbel cliffs in the distance and we could even make out snow on Mount Hermon to the north. As we rested there, we enjoyed simple snacks of boiled eggs, dried apricots and almonds.
Down we climbed through rocks and flowered pastures to the base of the Horns. Sitting at the foot of the hills is a Druze holy site, Nebi Shu’eib. We washed our muddy feet in the natural spring there and caught curious glances from the Druze woman making a barbecue.
On we went into a perfect late spring afternoon. Down through the ruins of the Arab town of Hittin, past fields and more olive orchards in the rocky valley and into my favorite section of the trail. A long valley winds through steep, rocky mountains inhabited only by wildlife and cattle. A sweet breeze blew along the valley as we wound on dirt paths between mother cows and their new calves, a wandering creek, spring flowers and late sunshine.
Nearly at the end of the valley, our path took us up a steep, black path, past an ancient synagogue ruins and into the town of Moshav Arbel where we found our second campsite. All six members of the Jesus Trail team worked at building a fire, and we heated up lentil stew to accompany the delicious St. Peter’s fish Dave and Anna brought and cooked over hot coals. Sweet local wine and goat cheese, bread and cucumbers satisfied us after a long day in the fresh air. We slept again in our tent and without a shower.