Seaside Stroll Tour

Seaside Stroll Tour

Flint Travelers: A Seaside Stroll… Gaza to Sidon.

Dispatch #1: Gaza.

Welcome to our Flint Travelers first Dispatch. Tour faraway lands from the comfort of your home. No need to pack a toothbrush or sunscreen! Some of the countryside that we will pass through in these travels would be considered too dangerous to travel in real life. Never fear! Your sturdy and capable guides will be safely leading you on these rambles and hopefully you will enjoy the trip and maybe learn a thing or two along the way! We begin this tour on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in one of the oldest cities in the world… The City of Gaza! Gaza means “strong”. If that means strength in numbers, then it is correct… because the City of Gaza today has well over 500,000 people. If you were here way back in 1596 there were only about 6000 people living here (and plenty of leg room). After the Israeli-Arab war in 1948 Palestinian refugees began to flood into the area… and the population exploded. Most of the population here today is Muslim. There are only about 3,500 adherents to some form of Christianity in Gaza today, and most belong to the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Baptist churches.  

This old city, like Damascus, has been around from the remotest times. It is still a place of importance today. The old city was situated on a hill close to the sea and only about eleven miles from Jerusalem. By the way, Gaza is larger today than Jerusalem! Here, we are very close to the southern border of the Biblical Land of Israel. You probably have heard the term “Gaza Strip” The Gaza Strip is the land in between Egypt and Israel. This land has been fought over for a very long time. As recently as July 2014 there was conflict between Hamas and Israel (In reality, this would be a very dangerous if not impossible area to tour!) The City of Gaza is at the north most part of the Gaza Strip close to the Israeli border. Historically, The City of Gaza was one of the five chief cities of the Philistines: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Ekron and Gath. The city was surrounded by a huge wall. When Alexander the Great lay siege to the city- it held out for two or five months (depending on who tells the tale.)  Fortunately, when Alexander finally took Gaza he did not destroy it. (Unfortunately, Alexander did kill several thousand residents after taking the city, which he wanted to be the cornerstone of his conquest of the Mediterranean Coast.)

As you can tell the climate here is hot and dry in the summer and the winters are mild with an average low of only 45 degrees. The main food here is fish caught fresh right from the Mediterranean Sea! Another favorite dish is called Qidra. This is also the name of the clay pot it is cooked in. You take rice and usually lamb then add you some bean pods and various spices including my favorite (cinnamon), cook it until it is just right and you serve it in the pot it was cooked in!

Speaking of food, this morning while enjoying my breakfast on the rooftop (Did I mention strawberries are one of the main exports of Gaza?) I looked to the east and slightly north. I could imagine I was seeing Jerusalem… only about eleven miles away. I was thinking about an Ethiopian I had read about. This man was a court official of Candace the Queen of Ethiopia. He was apparently in charge of her treasure. This Ethiopian was returning from Jerusalem headed back home. He was going to go through Gaza because Gaza was the last watering hole on that road from Jerusalem to Egypt. He had been to Jerusalem to worship and was reading the Scriptures as he rode his chariot. Meanwhile Philip the Evangelist was told by an angel of the Lord to go down this same road. So Philip ran into this Ethiopian and the Spirit told him to go to him. Starting from where he was reading, Philip preached the Good News of Jesus Christ to the Ethiopian.

If you want to know the rest of the story you can read it in Acts Chapter 8 starting in verse 26. Philip is an inspiration to me and maybe you too. When the angel of the Lord said to go he went. When he had the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ he did. I believe a goal we all should reach for is to be as ready as Philip to answer and act.  

While in Gaza be sure to visit:

The Gold Market. A narrow passageway in the old quarter used for trading gold.

The Great Mosque of Gaza. The oldest Mosque in Gaza.

The Samaritan Bathhouse. A Turkish bath dating back to 1584.

Saint Porphyrius Church. A Greek Orthodox Church dating back to 425 CE.

 

 

 

 

 

Pictures: The Great Mosque of Gaza, the Gold Market and the Saint Porphyrius Church. (Amazing Churches)

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