Israel's Good Name

Tel Dan

In Galilee, Israel on March 31, 2013 at 6:45 AM

On Wednesday, the first day of Pesach Chol HaMoed, we took a (partial) family trip to Tel Dan, an ancient city on a nature reserve way up in the Upper Golan. Belonging to the Tribe of Dan, this northern city was known under a variety of names throughout the generations: Laish, Leshem and Dan. Located beside Banias, the Dan River park is quite lush and green, coupling it nicely with the ancient ruins.

Excavated ruins of Tel Dan

Excavated ruins of Tel Dan

Melted ice flowing down from Mount Hermon, together with gushing cold water from underground springs, the Dan River joins two other small streams to form the Jordan River. Within the park itself one sees a trickling spring transform into a rushing stream, perfect for rafting and kayaking.

The Dan River

The Dan River

We took the long trail, which included stops at the Israelite Gate and the “High Place” where idol worship went on during the kingship of Jeroboam ben Navat, who ruled the first Israelite Kingdom of Israel for 22 years, following the split between Israel and Judah. Bringing along a new camera, this one featuring 21x optical zoom, I was keen on photographing plants and animals which come out great with a DSLR camera. Being that I was in a nature park, the opportunities were abound.

Close-up of a bee on a flower

Close-up of a bee on a flower

I also played with zoom and focus, using the great landscape to capture deep photographs. Here, a lichen-covered rock, belonging to an ancient wall in the Israelite Gate, and the rolling levels of trees in the background:

Lichen-covered rock and the green beyond

Lichen-covered rock and the green beyond

When we approached the High Place, a man came up to us and asked us if we knew the history. We chimed in as he began to tell over the despicable tale of the Israelite king introducing idols into the area, slaughtering animals to the idols just feet away from where we stood. He was royally miffed and was pleased to know that we too knew the tragic Biblical tale. Here is a cistern from beside the altar which may have been used to hold blood (from the sacrifices) or wine (from the libations):

Stone and plaster cistern

Stone and plaster cistern

In more modern times, the area was used by the IDF to secure the northern area of the Golan. Here is a shot of the nearby Lebanese town of Arab el-Luweize (I wonder whose cows those are…):

Lebanese town of Arab el-Luweize

Lebanese town of Arab el-Luweize

With the Lebanese to the north-west and the Syrians to the north-east, a bunker was built into the hill beside the “High Place”.  Here the trenches can be seen, with odd frame pieces every few feet. The peak in the distance is Mitzpe Ramta, with Mount Hermon on the far side (not visible):

Greenery, trenches and Mitzpe Ramta

Greenery, trenches and Mitzpe Ramta

And here, thanks to the 21x optical zoom, a rusted Syrian tank from the Six Day War in 1967 can be seen, way off in the distance:

A rusted Syrian tank

A rusted Syrian tank

Descending into the trench, I entered the bunker and crouched behind the mount for the .50-calibre machine gun, looking out at the lush green fields:

The view from the bunker

The view from the bunker

After a nice picnic beside the alter, we continued on with the hike, turning back to the Dan River. But first, a shot of the Israelite Gate area, not too far away from a stone throne:

Walls from the Israelite Gate area

Walls from the Israelite Gate area

Back at the parking lot, I found a large ant which became my model for macro-photography. This ant was very elusive and nary a good photo was taken of the minuscule beast. This is the best shot, I hope to capture better and more in upcoming adventures.

Elusive ant

Elusive ant

Day 2 of Chol HaMoed (next post): Castra and the Atlit “Illegal” Immigration Camp!

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  1. […] around it, marked as both the peak trail and the extensive Israel National Trail (which begins at Tel Dan and ends in Eilat, approximately 1,000 kilometres long). Thankfully, the peak trail is just a mild […]

  2. […] the Israelite Kings Omri and Ahab. Seeing the mass of uncovered stone walls reminded me at once of Tel Dan, with its rich Canaanite and Israelite Kingdom history. Archaeologists found scores of ceramic […]

  3. […] of Israel and Judah. King Asa of Judah, great-grandson of King Solomon, gave Iyun (as well as Dan and other Naftali cities) to King Ben Hadad of Aram Damascus as a bribe to turn the Aramaeans […]

  4. […] the Yarkon springs being the second most prosperous source of fresh water (after the springs at Tel Dan in the north), the British tapped into it and so do we – the discharge rate being some 200 […]

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