Tour the Biblical Cities of Israel
A friend gave us a very large map of the original tribal allotments according to what is written in Yehoshua, 13:8-19:49. I always enjoy looking at this map and taking in the full breadth of our inherited homeland before the outside nations invaded and began making up artificial borders and phony people. Bordered by Aram, Ammon, Moab, Edom and Mitzrayim, there was quite a bit of Holy Land to settle. Also interesting to me is the names of the ancient cities in existence at that time, many of which we can identify today. For instance, along the shores of or near to the Kineret are three ancient cities: Rakkath, Hammath and Jabneel.
Today, not very much is to be seen of Rakkath, which was located between Tveria and Migdal, along the shore, facing the imposing Mt. Arbel. It was one of the three fortified cities in the tribal portion of Naftali. The Rakkath valley served as a very important passageway for caravans traveling from Damascus to the west. After Rome built up the city of Tveria (so named for the Roman governor), the importance of Rakkath diminished and eventually the city was abandoned. Today you can still explore Tel Rakkath, Rakkath Valley and Rakkath Springs, where you can find a few remaining ruins of its ancient past.
Jabneel today is the thriving, growing and much desired yishuv in Yavne’el. Located southwest of Tveria in the beautiful valley of the Galil, it is best known as “Breslev City.” You can add it to the list of cities claiming to be the first stop for Moshiach. Originally an agricultural moshav on land purchased by Baron Rothschild in 1901 and settled by 25 immigrant families from Russia, Yavne’el quickly became a destination of choice for immigrants from many nations throughout Europe and the Arab world. There are stunning vistas from the Yavne’el Valley—to Golan, Tzfat, and the mountains of Meron and Tavor. If you are looking for fresh and organic food, Yavne’el is the place. The yishuv is filled with chickens, sheep and goats, citrus trees, olive and date palm groves, almond trees, and more. Hike through the valley and hills of Yavne’el and stay in one of the many tzimmers in the yishuv, from rustic to luxury.
Hammath, today Hammei-Tveria, is best known as the famous hot mineral springs in existence since the times of the Canaanites. It is thought that Hammath is mentioned in the Anastasi Papyrus, written during the Ramses dynasty, where it discusses the crossing of Hammat. It was one of the fortified cities of Naftali, on the ancient trade route between Syria and Egypt. The first buildings there were erected by the Greeks, who renamed it Emmaus of the Galilee. The Romans built a spa structure to take advantage of the 17 natural springs filled with 100 minerals (more than any place on earth). It is brought down that the springs originate in Gan Eden and much about the medicinal powers of the springs is mentioned in the Talmud.
My suggestion: explore Tel Rakkath, hike in the hills of Jabneel, and finish your day in the hot springs of Hammath.