We began our tour with Educational Opportunities and Guide Tsippi Segal, on the road from Tel Aviv to Jaffa. Jaffa was Israel’s natural port during the time of the Old Testament. According to the story, Peter resided in Jaffa when the other disciples sent for advice on whether or not Cornelius, a Gentile, could join the Jewish Jesus movement. Peter said yes, and history continued to be set (i.e. Acts 10). Jonah was reported to set sail from Jaffa, as well.
We strolled above the ancient port and shoreline of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea, amidst the historic structures. We could see people swimming and surfing in the clear, blue-green waters of the Mediterranean from our lookout at the “Gateway to the East”.
I roamed over to the Wishing Bridge, admiring the detailed mosaic sign of welcome.
The Gate to the Ancient World
Tsippi introduced us to a Salt plant, that of course smelled and tasted extremely salty.
We entered St. Peter’s Church (currently 19th Century-originally 17th Century) One of the most unique sculptor’s was of the tree.
St. Peter’s is an old Franciscan Church, located in Old Jaffa. The church was built to commemorate the visit and miracle of St. Peter in Jaffa. The New Testament records several of St Peter the Apostle’s deeds, which took place in Jaffa: the raising of Tabitha, the seamstress; Peter’s stay at the house of Simon the Tanner, and the vision of the sheet let down from heaven.
“Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.
The vision of Peter, Acts 10, 15
It was from here that Peter journeyed up the coast to Caesarea, where he told about Jesus as requested by Cornelius. Cornelius became the first convert from paganism to be welcomed into the Church.
We proceeded to Emmaus and broke bread outdoors within the ruins of the Byzantine church at Emmaus-Nicopolis, which is adjacent to the monastery of Latrun. The site lies on the bright green plain of Sheilah on the route leading from the Mediterranean to Jerusalem. This was our first visit to an old excavation site–very quiet and serene. The light hit the bread placed on the altar at just the moment I took the picture. This was the place Jesus broke the bread.
The vegetation around Emmaus was very interesting, including blooming almond nut trees and an occasional anemone. Tsippi told us to look throughout Israel for groups of wildflowers, including the anenones, referred to as “the lillies of the field”.