We traveled west about an hour through the desert to reach the town of seven wells, Beersheba. Abraham's well was here. A treaty with the Philistine King Abimelech was confirmed by this well. This town witnessed the last cavalry charge in modern warfare. Hagar raised Ishmael just south of here. The tel itself is not that impressive but its history is. A phrase that we read over and over in Scripture is "from Dan to Beersheba." These two towns, both of which we have visited now, are the basic north and south borders of the inhabitable land of Israel. Everything south of Beersheba is desert. Crossing the area we did to get to Beersheba gave us insight into the desolation the Israelites wandered in for the forty years.
From Beersheba, we headed north toward Jerusalem, stopping at the Elah Valley. This formed the border between Philistine territory and Israel. The narrative says that the Philistines were encamped below the city of Azekah and the Israelites were below Socoh when Goliath steps out each day for forty days to challenges Israel. David appears with lunch for his brothers and ends up leaving as a champion over giants. (Yes, some picked up smooth stones). We also found some prophets sitting under broom trees. This is rich, fertile land.
Following lunch, we traveled the rest of the way to our target for our final week: Jerusalem. With the song "The Holy City" ringing in our ears we entered from the south west. We came around the northern side and drove up the Mount of Olives. Nir gave us an overview of the week ahead by pointing out the major landmarks that were visible. Cameras were snapping and minds were short-circuiting. We will catch it all little by little. A stroll down the Palm Sunday trail to the Garden of Gethsemane was next. The word in Hebrew means olive press, fitting for the place that witnessed the pressure Jesus felt the night He prayed there. "Not my will but yours." When we entered the Church of Agony (or All Nations) to see the rock where tradition says He prayed, a mass was being celebrated with a small group. We took a few pictures with sensitivity and exited. Minutes later we arrived at the Prima Kings for our first night at the center of the world.