We are on the Jesus Trail, walking from Nazareth to Capernaum, Israel, the route Jesus walked. We have walked many miles and, on this day, we view the Sea of Galilee.
We leave the goat farm, looking forward to walking on a stretch of an ancient Roman road where Jesus surely walked. Unfortunately, we found that the trail had been re-routed — the Jesus Trail now coincides with the Gospel Trail. Maybe this is a metaphor: the story of Jesus was modified to become the Gospel, as told by St. Paul.
St. Paul was converted to Christianity by his vision of Jesus while walking on the very road that we expected to walk (Acts 22:6-7). St. Paul’s reframing of the Jesus story allowed it to attract non-Jewish people who were familiar with the Greek idea of a man-God coming to aid humanity. This idea of a man-god sacrificing himself was not within the Jewish scriptures and did not appeal to most Jews.
Everything has a positive side: rather than the Roman road, we see flowers.
The trail passes Kibbutz Lavi, an Orthodox religious kibbutzim. We see a Jewish graveyard and a memorial to family members who died in the Holocaust. The Zionist movement and the eventual state of Israel were shaped by the Holocaust.
We climb toward the Horns of Hattin, passing Gospel Trail pylons.
If we had turned left on a paved road, we would reach Nebi Shu’eib and the tomb of Jethro, father-in-law of Moses (Exodus 3:1). According to Druze traditions, Jethro passed on rules regarding justice, righteousness, and monotheism to Moses. Jethro accompanied Moses for a time but returned to his home. Although Arab, the Druze have an separate identity from Muslim and Christian Arabs in Israel. The Druze are loyal to the country where they live and the Israeli Druze fought on the side of Israel in the War of 1948. Although they are not Jewish, they serve in the modern Israeli army.
We catch our first glimpse of the Sea of Galilee as we walk toward the double-peaked Horns of Hattin.
We see many barbed wire barriers. Israel is in a state of war, resisting terrorism and ready to repel invasion. We look down at an ancient battlefield which, at the time, determined the future of Jerusalum.
The Battle of Hattin, in 1187, between the Frankish Crusader army of King Guy and the Muslim army of Saladin, occurred below the Horns of Hattin.
I watch some newly-hatched caterpillars as we draw closer to the Horns.
Saladin’s army surrounded Tiberias and the crusader army, with 1,200 knights and 18,000 foot soldiers rushed to Break the siege. The Crusader commanders foolishly led their troops past the village of Tur’an without stopping for water. Saladin’s army took Tiberias and moved to block the Crusader’s access to their only water supply. As a result, the Crusaders were at a disadvantage during the ensuing battle and were soundly defeated.
We reach the top of the Horns.
The Crusader defeat ended the Second Crusade, allowing Saladin to conquer Jerusalem on October 2, 1187.
We descend from the Horns.
The Crusaders were brave men, defeated due to the incompetence of their commanders. I saw similar events in Vietnam. There is a pattern in American history: people are swept up with the notion that bravery makes victory certain. Military endeavors are justified by the glory of previous sacrifices. We must honor our fallen heroes. There is no time to learn about the history and culture of potential enemies. In the end, reality triumphs — fabrications about weapons of mass destruction or establishing democracy don’t count for much.
We descend and see the ruins of the Palestinian village of Hittin. Hittin was one of over 400 Arab towns and villages destroyed or left empty by the War of 1948. People fled for their lives, thinking that they could return later. Hundreds of thousands became homeless, ending up in refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, or what is now the occupied territories.
America engaged in vaguely parallel atrocities regarding Native-Americans and African-Americans. Many things happened that are not described in the history books.
It is puzzling to think about it — must people don’t feel guilty. Why should they? It happened a long time ago.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 73):
“The Tao is always at ease.
It overcomes without competing,
answers without speaking a word,
arrives without being summoned,
accomplishes without a plan.
Its net covers the whole universe.
And though its meshes are wide,
it doesn’t let a thing slip through.”
Lao tsu accepts things as they are.
The universe unfolds but does not plan, he says.
Whether you believe one thing or another thing, it still unfolds.
You and I cannot fully understand human foolishness or suffering. Our task is to achieve harmony with the Tao — a state of tranquility and mental health. We are part of the great unfolding. We don’t need to worry about it.