Posted by: gcarkner | August 30, 2012

UBC Professor’s Travelogue

My Journey through the Holy Land

It was November 1991.  By this stage it was all arranged that my wife and I would be spending our sabbatical year in Israel and that we would live in Jerusalem. I was on e-mail when I received the message “I have your apartment arranged for you; you have an address in Jerusalem.”  I remember sitting back in my office chair and pondering “we have an address in Jerusalem; this is the Holy City, the City of the Great King, and we have an address there!” 

From the following August until June 1993 my family lived in Israel; I was conducting plant ecology research in the Negev desert. This became a very special year for us when we spent most weekends exploring and visiting various parts of this incredible country.  It became our objective to follow God’s commission to Abram, to “Arise, walk through the land in the length of it, and in the breadth of it” (Gen 13:17).  We attempted to visit the site of every recorded Bible event in Israel, provided there was some evidence that the site and location could still be identified with some degree of certainty.  A number are rather tenuous, and a number are based on human invention rather than Scriptural or archaeological authority.

Together we beat our way through bushes, drove through farmers’ fields, along tracks rather than roads, through fruit groves, through shallow rivers, around military bases, into some quite dangerous areas, all to experience this land.  Such is the pace of development in Israel that maps become outdated notoriously quickly.  Consequently, we often got lost, we needed directions, we were stoned, and we were robbed, but we just about met our objective.

Many travelers to the Holy Land are restricted to a predetermined tour schedule and visit sites marked by impressive churches or ancient ruins.  Few consider the more obscure Bible sites as places of interest to visit.  Yet, many places throughout the region offer the visitor food for thought, meditation, and inspiration.  Many of these towns and villages are off the beaten tourist track. Nevertheless, they witnessed some of the most inspiring stories of the Old and New Testaments.  There is a tremendous sense of history all around, especially in Judaea and Samaria (aka Westbank)..  Every hill and valley, town and village, seems to have some claim to fame.  Bible stories take on a whole new dimension as they become real historical events that involved real people.  It is exhilarating to follow the footsteps of Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and David, and to walk where Jesus walked. Since that first visit, we have returned to Israel about 15 times.

Roy Turkington, Professor (Plant Ecology)

Dept. of Botany, and Biodiversity Research Centre (Room 105)

University of British Columbia

Roy makes delightful presentations on his journeys to the Middle East. Gord


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