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Final Day from the Holy Land with Pastor Nanette Christofferson

Friday, January 13, 2023

Our day started with a stop at the Jabbok River. (Gen. 32) We began viewing this sight by hearing scripture read and recalling the story of Jacob meeting Esau for the first time after stealing his brother’s birthright some 20 years later. This is the river by which Jacob wrestled with God before meeting Esau. It is significant as Jacob receives a new name Israel. According to our guide Israel means…. Is=Man, Ra=power(struggle), El is God. In Genesis 32 when Jacob is renamed Israel it means “one who struggled with God”. In this struggle Jacob admits who he is, and God blesses him with a new name. This passage is significant in the life of the Judean faith as it is often told again and again letting God’s people know that we will often struggle with God. And so many times it is a power struggle as we want our power vs. God’s. Not only is this passage significant to the life of our brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith but ours as well. I believe many of us know what it is like to struggle with the righteousness of God vs. our own righteousness. This scripture for me is among one of many favorites in the Bible.

Jabbok River

We then moved onto the city of Jerash (Gerasa) located 48 km north of Amman. Jerash is the most important Roman city in the orient. It is probably one of the best examples of a Roman city from the 1st and 2nd century A.C.E.

Many New Testament manuscripts refer to the country of the Gadarens or the Gerasenes, because both Gerasa and Gadara were cities to the east of the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan. This area was known as the region of the Gerasense and the Gadarens. The Bible mentions in Matthew 4:23-25 and in Mark 7:31 that “Jesus and his disciples returned from the region of Tire and went by the way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.” The Decapolis region is the region of 10 Roman cities in the first century world.

Our tour of the old Roman City began by walking through Hadrian’s Arch. Hadrian was Emperor of Rome and was known as “the traveler” because of his extensive travels throughout the Roman Empire. These large monumental arches were built by the citizens of the Decapolis to honor and celebrate the visit of Emperor Hadrian to their city.

Hadrian’s Arch

Hippodrome: This was constructed around the 2nd century A.C.E. and was used for horses and chariot reaces with a seating capacity of around 15,000 spectators. This arena was used all kinds of sporting events and gladiator games as well in the Roman Times.


The Temple of Zeus: The father of all the Greek gods, and the supreme diety in Greek mythology and the God of all the Olympian family. A huge temple was there from the Greeks and the Romans came and remodeled it in the second century.

The Temple of Zeus

The Theatre: This was built at the end of the first century A. C.E. and seated around 4000 spectators. The echo soundings in this theatre are better than most modern opera houses today. While we were there we listened to bagpipes play “Amazing Grace”.

This was an amazing site to visit! Much of the information above comes from our guide, Omar’s book on “The Land of God”.

The Theatre

Our day ended with a little driving around Amman as we drove past the Palace of King Abdullah II.

We leave Jordan early tomorrow. This trip has been a blessing and we are so grateful that we have been able to see so much of the Holy Land. The people have been welcoming and very kind. The food has been amazing and the various things that have been learned will be with us as we travel back home.

Looking forward to seeing all of you as I have missed our Love of Christ Lutheran Church community! We hope to be back in Mesa on Sunday. Holding you all in prayer and we look forward to seeing you all next week!


Pastor Nanette and Mark

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