The focus of the Palestine of Jesus course today was on Jesus and John the Baptist, and especially on the significance of their presence in the Judean wilderness. This small desert (approximately 1,500 square km) has been created by the rain shadow effect as moist winds from the Mediterranean Sea tend to have dropped their rain on the western side of the mountains.
- BiblePlaces.com has an excellent set of online photographs from the Judean wilderness.
After a briefing on the physical and theological significance of the Jordan River, Jericho and the ‘wilderness’, the class set out by bus for the Baptism site on the Jordan River. After lunch in Jericho, and an opportunity to stop briefly at a large sycamore tree that commemorates the encounter of Jesus and Zaccheus, the group went to a location to view the Monastery of the Temptation. On the way back to Jerusalem there was a chance to view the Wadi Qilt, the ancient road between Jerusalem and Jericho.
I chose to stay back at the College today and attend to my growing set of emails. With the temperatures in the mid-40s that proved to be a good move.
I did venture out around lunch time so I could wander down to the Damascus Gate and buy some freshly baked bread from a local shop.