We are in Nazareth, Israel, visiting the Nazareth Village (simulation of Nazareth as it was during the time of Jesus), the Basilica of the Annunciation (Roman Catholic commemoration of the Angel Gabriel’s informing Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus), the Church of St. Joseph (located where Joseph was said to do carpentry), the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (they believe that Mary was informed while getting water from a well and therefore built their church beside Mary’s well).
At Nazareth Village, we see an authentic wine press rock –where they trampled the grapes in a rock basin and the juice collected in a lower basin. It is likely Jesus visited this place — he lived nearby and grape crushing was a social event.
We learned that the standard image of a crucifixion is incorrect. Un-hewn lumber was used (round poles), typically forming a “T” –not a cross (X). This is disconcerting — what other historical images are incorrect?
We see a shepard, his sheep, and a tomb as would be constructed for a rich person in Jesus’ time. Poor people did not have tombs.
I look inside. Tombs were designed to hold more than one body-typically four people.
We watch two women spinning wool by hand.
We see Joseph, at work. He was not actually a carpenter as the term exists today. He was more of a construction worker, able to make basic equipment. He and Jesus probably worked at a Roman construction site nearby.
Here are things that Joseph might build: yoke, ladder, olive oil press (not shown). Joseph would not have made furniture. He could saw wood, plane wood, make holes in wood.
We visit the Roman Catholic Basilica of the Annunciation, built over the place where Mary was informed that she would be the mother of Jesus.
Inside, we see a noon ritual, a blessing at the grotto-like place where Mary was informed by the Angel Gabrial.
We see the Church of St. Joseph, built on the place that St. Joseph lived and worked.
We see the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, where Mary was informed of her role in giving birth to Jesus (according to Orthodox tradition). The Orthodox Christians collect holy water from the nearby well — they believe the annunciation took place beside this well.
There are many icons inside the Greek Orthodox Church.
I watch a woman cross herself, kiss and kneel before an icon of Jesus.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 70):
“My teachings are easy to understand
and easy to put into practice.
Yet your intellect will never grasp them,
and if you try to practice them, you’ll fail.
My teachings are older than the world.
How can you grasp their meaning?
If you want to know me,
look inside your heart.”
Here is a concern — a photograph of graffiti. Nazareth is predominately Arabic-speaking; many people who previously considered themselves Palestinian had to agree to accept Israeli ID cards in 1948. Many others fled for their lives and lost their homes.
But inside, people are people. They show adoration within their propensity for spirituality. Even if their methods differ, the basic emotions are the same. A few days before we watched people kiss a case exhibiting the beard of the Prophet Muhammad. Today, we saw similar sentiment among Christians. Look inside your heart and you will understand.