Monday, August 30, 2010

From Here To There & Back Again

As a newbie to the call of Israel advocacy and Jewish/Christian relations, I arrived in Israel with a mind eager to learn, heart softened to understanding, and eyes awkwardly wide open. Such hopes for learning became my prayers, and as the Father loves to give good gifts to His children, God abundantly exceeded my most idealistic expectations for discovery.

Although it has taken 70 pages of journaling, 750+ pictures, 80 videos, 17 blog posts, and countless conversations to record the breadth of my experience, a few impromptu sentences, from an unexpected source, ring the loudest in my mind as an encapsulation of the trip. These words were posed by a beautiful, soft-spoken Israeli woman. Mid-desert, late in a restful Shabbat dinner full of peaceful revelry, Ester unassumingly rose and said to our group:

‘I have had to hold back tears during this dinner as I have listened to you speak of your love for Israel. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming. I feel something unique about this group, unlike any that I have hosted before. I think there is something very special about what is happening here. Thank you.’ [paraphrased]

Ester’s words have pinned humility, understanding, and a sense of family into my being with their penetrating sincerity. They speak loudly over the commotion of details from our trip, focusing the cloud of memories into a clarity during the trip, our importance as advocates for Israel, and my “in-grafted” family relationship to the Jewish People.

A tour of Israel is unquestionably awe-inspiring. Aside from the endless Biblical sites, modern Israel is a wonder in its own right. Vineyards, orchards, and crop fields filled the gaps between the developments of Israeli towns, high-tech businesses and military infrastructure as we bussed around the Land. Between the Israeli innovation we witnessed on tours of the Or Movement (developing the desert) and Better Place (bringing electric vehicles to the world on a massive scale) and the sobering realities of the nation’s security nightmares that we saw through 5 separate security briefings by IDF Colonels, I was astounded by Israel’s collective resolve and advancement. Ester and her people are together brilliant and inspiring to be around, so her thankfulness towards us was almost shocking to me. I felt, and still feel, that I am the one who must hold the position of humble appreciation.

Ester’s gratitude also helped me understand our role as advocates. Her people often fee alone, isolated, and precariously on the edge of tragedy. She made it clear that our support resonates deeper than we may understand. Praying for the “peace of Jerusalem” is no longer a fluffy, distant vagueness for me; it is now stamped with faces and relationships. We are standing for the largest causes, yes- Democracy, freedom, God’s promises. But only these first hand experiences in the Holy Land could put such flesh on the bones of my intellectual understanding for what we might do through CUFI.

So now, as I reflect on it all- the site visits, relationships formed within our group, and bonds sealed with new friends like Ester- I try to summarize how my “expectations for discovery” were so “abundantly” met. My head is crammed full of knowledge, I can answer hundreds of factual questions, and I have spoken first hand with many Israelis- Arab, Jewish, and Druze alike. However, its not my head, but instead my heart, which has been most moved.
The words of my dear friend and trip mate, Conner McMakin beautifully relate my experience at Shabbat with Ester and the trip as a whole:

“I learned that Christians and Jews can have full and loving fellowship with each other, even after nearly 2,000 years of persecution of the Jews by the Church. That has to be a God movement, an Almighty intervention. My heart tells me we are supposed to do this. Even if my brain or limited knowledge doesn’t fully understand our sacred connection, my heart understands it.”

My heart understands. My heart is thankful. God is on the move.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Settling On Sand

With the harsh reality of life in Sederot fresh in our minds, we headed further south-east towards the desert. Conveniently our bus’ air conditioning crashed and burned just in time for the 110 degree heat of the Negev. Thankfully, during our visit to the regional waste treatment center, a replacement bus arrived to transport us to the final locale for the day.

When we arrived in Givot Bar (below right), a sleepy, one-road neighborhood bordered by sand dunes, I was a bit skeptical that the stop would be very thrilling. We were greeted by Roni Flamer, a reserved yet passionate 33 year old who I assumed was just a tour guide for the area. Roni started by telling us that were standing in one of the newest settlements into the Negev Desert. He began to explain the vision for the initiative – develop communities for 600,000 Israelis to move into the (pic-planted forest in the distance, new development in foreground) Negev by 2020.

Israel Fact #24: As understood through all of the controversy concerning the expansion of apartment buildings in Jerusalem, Israel experiences a major land shortage. The Negev Desert, located in the southern region of the country, makes up 60% of Israel’s territory; however, the majority of this area is uninhabited….because it’s the desert.

In typical Israeli fashion, that fact hasn’t deterred an inspired group of young Jewish visionaries. Only after I was already fully impressed by the initiative, did Roni (below, right) show all his cards. He said, “when I was 17 years old, 3 of my friends and I were sitting around talking about what we wanted to do with our lives. We wanted to do something with meaning. So we decided to start this movement.” Really, Roni??! 17??

Dang, when I was 17, I was just trying to decide where to go do college and how to stop a lacrosse ball from going into the net behind me. Meanwhile, Israeli kids are figuring out how to change the face of their country.

A bit more on the Or Movement: Or means ‘life.’ One of the most pervasive themes of my trip in Israel has been the discovery of how deeply the Jewish people love life. In fact no less than 4 different speakers have declared this passion to our group. Whether it’s a struggle for peace and safety for their children, a determination to re-plant and cultivate the whole country with flowers, orchards, vineyards, and expansive crop fields, or a vibrancy of art, music, religion, and never-ending debate, these people live fully. No of course that is a generalization, which is always dangerous- there are just as many problems with Israeli society as there are in America, I guess I’ve just found Israel to be very similar….except that a group of 17 year olds started developing the desert 16 years ago.

Back to Or… the organization has facilitated the planting of forests, building of infrastructure (roads, sewage lines, wells, electricity, etc.), and planning & development of communities- synagogues, kindergartens, public parks, etc. To date 4000 families have already moved to the Negev, with 11,700 currently in the process. Seriously- if you’re looking for somewhere to move in the world, this place would be incredible. (and they are starting a community for families who speak English as a first languate). Huge emphasis on community, family, young couples with a pioneering spirit, and with an underlying understanding that the movement is fortifying the strength of a nation which in most other regions finds itself pitted with enemies who claim its Land as their own….oh yea, and not to mention that these new communities are adjacent to the city of Be’er Sheva, the place where Abraham started the nation of Israel 3700 years ago. NBD.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Day 10: Beautiful Bomb Shelters

Most children get their exercise on the playground or at sports practices. I know I did. My childhood was full of adventures in the woods, on the farm, or in the mountains as well as peaceful days of soccer, basketball, and football practices. In America our specified times for running at sports practice is usually at the end of practice and consists of running up and down the field. In Sederot, Israel my contemporaries spent their childhood running from Hamas rockets. Can you imagine over 500 rockets being shot into your town and the surrounding area over the course of 2 years…in 2007 and 2008? Bomb shelters built every 300 yards along the streets, sirens going off at random while you’re eating breakfast, taking a spelling test, playing at recess, or taking a shower after a long day at school- this was life for the children of many towns in southern Israel.

Thursday morning we were greeted at our hotel by Bentzi Gruber, and IDF colonel who commanded 20,000 Israeli troops during the war in Gaza 2 years ago. He is still big-tymin in the IDF and is one of the heads of the army’s missions to conduct ethical and moral battle practices. If you’ve seen any of the videos in which Anti-Israeli activists absurdly interrupt Israeli speakers in the middle of talks and forums on University campuses in the US, Bentzi is most likely the one being interrupted. He gave a presentation on the ethical methods and dilemmas that the IDF deals with when fighting terrorists. Talk about hearing it from the horse’s mouth. This man ran the show. He showed us videos of Hamas soldiers firing rockets from Mosques, loading troops into the back of ambulances, and driving TNT infused vehicles across the boarder into IDF hummers.

So we saw some pretty crazy stuff on a slide show. In a hotel meeting room. Big deal, right? Well, imagine seeing that… and then loading on a bus to drive to where it all happened. Intense.
From our hotel in Tel Aviv (which, by the way, is now within missile range of Hamas’ rockets) we headed south. Driving parallel to the coast we passed the port cities of Ashdod and Ashqelon (which was hit by a rocket 13 days ago) and into the sleepy town of Sederot. The bus weaved through the homey neighborhoods up to a dead end under a dusty hill. Cresting the hill, we walked up to an expansive view of ‘it.’ There it was, Gaza. Literally highway, boarder fence, a bit of open pasture, and then less than 3 miles away, the city of Gaza. Bentzi pointed out multiple spots from which Hamas has often launched rockets into the down in which we were standing….Now I realized why they had explained the bomb siren procedure to us on the bus ride. Whew.

Israel Fact #23: Ill throw a few Gaza facts at you here- 11,000 Palestinians from Gaza were given medical care in Israel last year- that’s 98% of applicants who applied to cross the boarder and receive it. 35% of Gaza’s electricity comes from Israel- ironically from a power plant in Ashqelon that Hamas has targeted. Last year 16,000 truckloads of goods from the private sector and 3,000 truckloads of aid from NGO’s were delivered from Israel into Gaza. An estimated $ 1.1 billion, yes billion, of goods passed through the network of 600-800 tunnels from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Humanitarian crisis inflicted by Israel? Ill let you use your brain to figure that one out. If you need some help figuring out whats going on, this might help
After the overlook we stopped by the Sederot police station which has stockpiled all of the rockets fired into their town over the past 10 years. My mind was boggled- how on earth did these people conduct normal lives like this? Rockets dropping into your streets at random without more than 15 second notice. Sirens blaring, men, women and children springing to the nearest shelter, cell phones jammed while everyone tries to call their loved ones at once- not knowing if they could have been killed. These thoughts rushed through my head, down into my chest, as my hand ran over the rough, rusty rocket casings.
To put a stamp on it all, we were taken to a local daycare that had been built by some loving American organizations. Ordinary daycare for the most part- basketball goals, climbing wall, concession stand, movie room, computer lab…all encased in a bomb shelter. And with counseling for the many children with post-traumatic stress. That’s when it hit me for good- of course these people want peace. They have to drop their children off at a concrete daycare instead of at the park. They have to sprint to shelters at all hours of the night. They have to send their children off to the army as soon as they graduate from high school. They all have a relative, high school classmate, or co-worker who has been killed in the never-ending war. If no less than that- I saw it in the eyes of Israeli after Israeli who spoke to us about their struggle and quest for peace. Psalm 122
To be continued…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Day 9: Goodbye Holy City; Hello terrorist weaponry

The last 4 days in Jerusalem have been some of the most unforgettable of my life. Biblical sites, political sites, markets, light shows, archeological excavations, local dinners, and much much more. Today, however, it was time to roll out and continue on our journey through the whole country. We headed west. After visiting one last site in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem, we departed on a bus ride all the way across the country to the west cost. It took 55 minutes. Ya, this country is that small. It’s the size of New Jersey.

With unknowing excitement, we rolled through the gates of an IDF (Israeli Defense Force) around noon. A few things that you notice when arriving on an IDF base for the first time- 1) Most of the soldiers are younger than me. 2) It is pretty laid back. 3) There’s a ton of old weapons displayed around the premises.

Israel Fact # 20: Israel has a conscription policy- meaning, all high school graduates, both men and women, serve a 3 year stint in the army before college. They then serve in the reserves until the age of 40. Why, you ask? There’s really no other choice. With a population of only 7 million and pressing military threats on most of their boarders, the army needs all the resources it can get. If you didn’t know, the IDF is one of the most powerful militaries in the world, despite its size. It is by far the most dynamic and innovative.

Once at the base, we were given an introduction to the unit’s functionality- something I’ll not disclose here, and then we were taken into a back room… Walking in, our group of 40 students crammed into a fairly small room filled with weaponry. Knives, guns, rockets, bombs, etc. All decommissioned of course. The first stack of material that caught my eye was a shelf of knives, clubs, and daggers. I thought to myself, ‘why would they have little dinky weapons (comparatively) in here with all of these machine guns and explosives?’

Ever heard of the ‘Flotilla Incident?’ Seen that video? Most of the world has. The soldier-guide told us a few thing about that incident. Sad things. First of all, the men who were delivering ‘humanitarian aid’ to Gaza were jihadist terrorists (you probably knew that). What I didn’t know- they were ‘high’ on heroine. Think the same strategy used by the sick-o prostitute traders depicted in the movie “Taken.” It is legitimately heartbreaking to think how demonic the evil has manifested that would drive men to blow themselves up in the name of holy war..hole ‘nother subject for another time.

So on that video, the IDF soldiers were attacked with knives, clubs, and daggers, etc. The ‘dinky’ weapons that I was looking at and touching were the actual weapons used on the Flotilla. (heart beating fast now, eyes wide). Seriously. That’s nuts- talk about taking something that normally seems half-a-world away and putting touch and sight to. These soldiers who we were interacting with are actually on the front lines of the war against terrorism. Now not to belittle anything that our American Troops are doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc, but these guys are really on the front lines. They sit on the boarders that are constantly being attacked by suicide murderers. And they just graduated high school. How’s that for a graduation present?

Israel Fact #21: Terrorists from Hamas and Hezbollah along with other organizations disguise bombs inside of everyday devices in order to blow up as many ‘Infidels’ as possible at random. Depicted is a chicken feeder outfitted with a bomb. Think for a second about an innocent child walking out to refill the chicken feed for his morning chores….

Israel Fact #22: Hamas, the reigning terrorist organization in Gaza, stashes weapons and terrorist cells in and around hospitals, elementary schools, and neighborhood areas. This is in order to make it nearly impossible for the IDF to take out the terrorists without injuring innocent women and children. Notice one of the rockets in the right of the picture. It is covered in kindergarten-looking colors and famous celebrities in the Palestinian culture. These rockets were found stashed in an elementary school classroom and were painted in order to look like toys to the children. Think about it. Side note- these are examples of the thousands of rockets launched into southern towns in Israel for around 8 years starting in 2000.

On a lighter note- post IDF base, we headed to visit Better Place, an fascinating start-up EV car company. My business juices were flowing even before arriving , but driving the cars for myself and leaning a bit more about the business plan far exceeded my expectations- common theme of the trip. This company plans to change the way the world transportation system works. It claims to be changing the entire country of Israel to electric powered car use in the next 10 years. Quote me on this in ten years- I believe them. So cool. Israel’s entrepreneurial and innovative genius is bar-none the most miraculous in the world. If you have any interest in business or entrepreneurship go buy “Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” By Dan Senor and Saul Singer.

Now snoozing up in Tel Aviv- the modern, progressive business hub on the Mediterranean- where we grabbed a quick swim and talked with some Israeli families on the beach this afternoon. Full from a ritzy dinner capped with a lecture on the demographics and political situation of Israel today. Looking at the schedule for tomorrow, if I thought that the IDF base was intense today, the morning will crank up the heat at a whole other level….

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Day 7 & 8- Yad Vachem (Holocaust Museum) & Mt. Herzl; Security Fence & Archeological Dig

Yesterday we visited Yad Vachem to start off the day with a bang. If you’ve ever been to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. you will understand the severity in which I say that such an experience moves the depths of your soul. More questions than answers usually result- they did for me. Why? Why would human beings conduct such savage havoc on other human beings? How? How could a society allow something so evil to take place? Walking through the story of the Genocide of the Jews in Europe, I was filled at times with hurt, anger, and sorrow. Although the message of the museum was to leave visitors with hope as we exited to a sunny, breezy vista of Jerusalem, I was left thinking- we can never let something like this happen again (not to say that it hasn’t or isn’t in other parts of the world).

Israel Fact # 17: Many people in the world are beginning to deny the occurrence of the Holocaust. Namely Mahmoud Ahmadinejad- you know, the crazy dude in Iran. The Holocaust is bar-none the most well documented genocide in history. Hundreds of thousand of documents, pictures, and human testimonies attest to it. We all know that. Here’s the punch line- the sad truth that: a lie told over and over again becomes seen as the truth. Many men in the world today repeat lies and repeat lies and repeat lies until
(Memorial Children murdered in the Holocaust) the truth becomes hard to see or remember clearly.

In the afternoon, we visited the Mt. Herzl Cemetery and Museum. Theodore Herzl is Israel’s equivalent of George Washington to a degree. Imagine G.W. mixed with the pilgrims mixed with Martin Luther King. Legit dude. Check out the story of Zionism; its incredible- its still being written daily.

This morning we began the day with a surreal tour of the world famous Security Fence, which borders the West Bank. We were guided by none other than the commanding officer of the construction of the fence, Colonel Danny Tirtza. I saw everything we are shown on the news and more. Observation #1- the world media puts ridiculous spin on this thing. Danny took us to 3 locations along the fence. 1) an Israeli neighborhood where many of the first wave of suicide bombers walked across to blow up buses in Jerusalem back in 2000. Before the fence was built, murderers could literally walk from their houses, up a hill of olive trees, and onto an Israeli road to load morning buses filled with school children- kaboom. 2) one of the boarder crossing terminals where any and all Palestinian workers are allowed to easily cross into Jerusalem on the way to work each morning. 3) an overlook of Bethlehem, which is currently inhabited almost exclusively by Muslim Arabs.

Literally, we stood next to houses that were being shot at by terrorists just 5 years ago. We heard directly from the man who planned and constructed the fence. We listened to his story of struggle to construct a security barrier while working his tail off to respect and appease all of the individual residents along the fence- whether Jewish or Arab.

Israel Fact #18: The security fence is only 5% concrete wall (although the media would have you think otherwise). 95% of the barrier is a chain link fence- no electric shock, no automatic machine guns, no punitive action taken if you touch it. The only stretches where concrete walls exist are in areas where there is not enough room to implement the entire fence unit- includes two fences and a road, which are all layers of a system to stop terrorists without having to shoot them on the spot. In the concrete wall areas, bombers could set off a bomb on the outside of the fence and still blow up civilians on the inside- walls = mandatory here.

Israel Fact #19: Arabs and Jews live on the outside of the fence. Arabs and Jews live on the inside of the fence. Arabs living in East Jerusalem are still given voting rights in Jerusalem’s municipal elections. Arabs living on the west side of the fence are full Israeli citizens. They live, work, raise children, play sports, enjoy the parks, and attend religious services with equal freedoms as any other Israelis. They are not oppressed- I saw this, I drove through the neighborhoods. People are people. This political issue, as any other, is clearly a human issue. Our guide, Danny continually referred to many of his close friends, who are Palestinians living across the fence in East Jerusalem.

At the end of the tour, the man, who himself designed and conducted the construction of the fence, left us with this plea in a heartfelt air of sincerity: “I want to be the one to take the first stone down from the wall…I hope that this day will come as soon as possible!”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Day 6 – Jerusalem: Holy City and Historical Goldmine

Spent the morning touring the Mount of Olives, the Temple Mount, and the Via Dolorosa. In the words of Harry Carry- Holy Cow! (no pun intended, we are not in India but Israel)
I do not think I can put words to the feelings and experiences that take hold when being present in the physical locations where Jesus walked. Heart beating, and eyes wide open, we quickly moved from one pivotal Biblical site to the next. I found it fairly difficult to steal away moments to take in the experience, since Avi (tour guide) was continually educating us about the history of the sites; however, the images and thoughts burned in my mind from those sites will travel with me for a lifetime.

Israel Fact #13: The Mount of Olives represents 3 (and probably more) key events recorded from Jesus’ life. Picture a midsized hill opposite of the Temple Mount; literally only a 10 min walk from the Temple. The events depict the three different sides of Jesus’ being/character. In geographically ascending order from the bottom to top of the hill: 1) Jesus as man crying out in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (bottom of hill) 2) Jesus as prophet while mourning the coming destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem (mid hill) 3) Jesus as God ascending to heaven after his resurrection (top of hill).

Walking around on the Temple Mount -you know, where the big gold dome is- was surreal. That place is a powder-keg and could basically be where World War III could start if things were not handled diplomatically. The site is directly above where Abraham was sent to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Oh ya, and it also happened to be where the Jewish temple was built twice – by Solomon and by the Jews returning from Babylonian exile.

Israel Fact #14: Since the Six Day War of 1967 in which Israel reclaimed Jerusalem for the first time in nearly 2000 years, the State of Israel has handed the Temple Mount over to the Muslim religious authority to maintain and run. However, the Israelis control the security around the perimeter of the Mount in order to maintain, well, order. Ironically, the Dome of the Rock sits directly on top of the historic Jewish Temple, built over 2700 years ago and partially destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.

Israel Fact #15: In the 1990s the Muslims wanted to expand their mosque underground in the southern portion of the Mount. Without permission and with extremely heated controversy, they brought in bulldozers and backhoes and began to carelessly dig up dirt under the Mount in order to build this underground extension. Here’s the problem- They dug up priceless archeological history that is illegal to touch without proper excavation. With utter disregard for ancient world history, they tossed the dirt-now churned up and out of place- into the valley below. Apparently this priceless cultural treasure of a site is just seen as a place to expand an agenda by force. Really tragic.

We spent the early afternoon shopping and eating a local lunch of humus and falafel in the market of the Arab Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a few Palestinian shop keepers whose shops have been in their families for over 300 years- that’s what I call a family business (yes, Sumner & Wallace, I found some sweet Israeli stuff to bring back- gotta show the sisters some love here, cause you know shopping can be painful for me).
As a cap on the day we walked through Hezekiah’s tunnel- which snakes under the City of David (oldest part of Jerusalem) for over a half a mile. Dudes literally carved this thing through solid bed rock and somehow came out the other side. At the end of the tunnel we came out at the remains of the pool of Siloam (where Jesus healed the blind guy). From there we walked under a Palestinian Arab neighborhood that sits on top of the original road from 2000 years ago. Ya, the road where Jesus hop, skipped, and jumped around (I wonder if Jesus ever danced?). Anyways…

Israel Fact #16: Much controversy has been made about Jewish archeologists who have excavated this area (which is way underground and doesn’t affect those living above). Some conspiracy theorists claim that all of Israel’s archeological digs are propaganda and all of the evidence is conjured up. Honestly, I straight up laughed when I heard this. Why? Because I’ve spent the last 3 days viewing, touching, reading, walking on, and exploring endless amounts of ancient ruins with Hebrew writings all the heck over them. This is a hint of a continuing theme that exists in the world media’s bent toward Israel- delegitimization. Lies are told over and over in attempts to vilify this country. Well, I feel a small sense of accomplishment for dispelling at least this one lie for now. It was easy to do- all I had to do was walk around and use the vision-providing eyes that I was created with.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Day 5: Massada, Dead Sea, and Israel Museum

Saturday morning we loaded the bus, drove past the controversial settlements in East Jerusalem, and seemingly instantly found ourselves in the desert. After passing Jericho, we drove through a security point. We virtually drove straight through since the IDF guards saw that our bus was full of Americans led by a Jewish-Israeli guide, who bluntly told us, “Israel unabashedly racially profiles.” (haha. ie they dont roll with that thing we like to call political correctness in America) They basically have to profile ever since the Intifada in the early 2000s in which hundreds of civilians were murdered by suicide bombers throughout the country.

On the way to Masada, we drove by the Dead Sea on our left and seemingly misplaced groves of palm trees on our right. The desert is blooming with date trees (although the farming is not really economically feasible since H2O is such a hot commodity). Masada was fascinating- definitely worth reading the story if you haven’t heard it – HERE. Basically the last stand of a remnant of the Jewish resistance against the Romans after they sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD.

Dead Sea came next. If you haven’t heard- its ridiculous. You literally float in the water. Think David Blaine levitating mixed with Luke Skywalker using the force to hover over that little midget, wrinkly dude- Yoda.

Israel Fact #11: Due to the water diversion of its tributaries from Israel and Jordan, the Dead Sea is shrinking by 1 meter per year in depth. Big environmental problem- lots of sink holes and salinity is increasing.

At the Israel Museum we got a first real perspective of the ‘Old City’ from the ‘Second Temple’ period (ie when Jesus was walkin around- the Temple rebuilt after the Babylonian exile of the Jews – fun fact for free: Herod actually helped rebuild it and fix it up later on). Got to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are fascinating support for the veracity of the Biblical Text. These as well as hundreds of other archeological artifacts help the Bible to be the most historically accurate and supported text from antiquity.

Israel Fact #12: We viewed a stone from the old temple with an inscription that stood on the wall of the inner court of the Jewish Temple and read something like: “Gentiles are not allowed to enter past this point. If you do, you will be subject to death by execution—a punishment that you bring upon yourself by failing to adhere to this law.” (I horribly paraphrased that, but you get the point). Intense. Points to something ahead of its inscribing…

More to come from today: Mt of Olives, Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock), Golgotha, City of David, etc)