Counting Down to Israel: T Minus One Month

Before I begin with the topic of this post, Happy New Year! Yes I know, the calendar year is coming upon one-half gone, but it’s actually my first blog post of 2012. Oops! Now that the spring semester is long gone, perhaps I should try to rectify that by recounting my recent studies and other things I’ve been working on.

But as the title alludes, it is now one month to the day until I depart the familiarity of the United States for the adventure and exploration of Israel. In the past weeks I have finalized a number of plans that have made the trip begin to feel real. For those interested, here is a rough outline of my plans:

Tel Hazor Map
Hazor lies north of Chinnereth and the Sea of Galilee in Israel, as shown in this map from

June 20-21: One-day vacation in Chicago with Lauren.
June 21: Depart from Chicago for Warsaw, Poland.
June 22: Thirteen hour layover (and mini-vacation!) in Warsaw; depart for Tel Aviv in the p.m.
June 23: Arrive in Tel Aviv in the wee hours of the morning, spend night nearby.
June 24: Travel north to Hazor and report to kibbutz (camp) for the dig to begin the following morning.
June 25-July 13: Excavation begins at 5:00 a.m. and lasts until 1:00 p.m. every weekday. On the weekends, I’ll have the opportunity to plan some day trips with my compatriots.
July 14-25: The dig will continue, but I will begin the recreation and sightseeing portion of my trip. I’ve booked accommodations deep within the Old City of Jerusalem, in a convent run by French nuns! So I’ll spend my nights in Jerusalem, but during the daytime I’ll travel around Israel, from Capernaum and other sites in the Galilee to Beersheba in the south, and hopefully everywhere in between.
July 26: Early flight home retracing my earlier route, from Tel Aviv to Warsaw and back to Chicago.

So, my trip will be jam-packed with adventure and new experiences (and I will certainly add more details to those rough plans in the near future, including what I’ll be digging for, who I’ll be working with, etc.!). I plan to chronicle as much of the trip as humanly possible on the blog, using written articles, photos and perhaps even videos, so if the trip sounds interesting to you, it might behoove you to subscribe to the blog for the next few months! You can do so by scrolling down along the right sidebar of this page, submitting your email address, and clicking on the “Sign me up!” button. If you do so, you will receive an email from my blog each time I publish a new post! You can unsubscribe at any time, so what do you have to lose?

One more thing: you might recall that last year I attempted to raise funds from friends and family for this trip (which would have then taken place in summer 2011), before ultimately deciding that I would not have a sufficient amount. This year, since I was awarded a fellowship in archaeology from my school’s Jeeninga Museum for Bible and Near Eastern Studies, I determined that running a dedicated fundraising effort would not be necessary, since the fellowship more than covers the costs of my flight, dig program, etc. However, some family and friends have sent me contributions anyway, and I am very thankful for them!

That’s all for now, thanks for reading!

Israel? And A Quick Update…

    Hazor lies north of Chinnereth and the Sea of Galilee in Israel, as shown in this map from you may or may not know, I am extremely hopeful that I will be able to travel to Israel for an archaeological dig this summer at the northern Galilean site of Tel Hazor (simply meaning “Mound” or “Hill” of Hazor). At various points in the seventh and eighth centuries B.C.E. and further back in antiquity, Hazor was occupied by Canaanite and Israelite populations, and the archaeological program I’ve found would explore these time periods. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Tel Hazor, check out the Hazor Excavations Project hosted by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Anyhow, I’m highly excited even to have the opportunity to consider traveling to the Holy Land, let alone being there for 4-6 weeks to study and explore. I should know within the next week whether or not my proposal for this upcoming summer will be funded. Won’t you pray that I may be allowed to participate in this experience, should it be in the will of God? Thank you so much 🙂

With that duly introduced, I think a quick update is probably in order as well, seeing as it’s been almost two months since I last did so. My wife and I are all moved in to our new apartment in Anderson, and it goes without saying that we love it. I am not kidding when I say that we tripled in space, going from around 430 sq. feet to nearly 1300 sq. feet. Sometimes we don’t know what to do with all of the space!

The only downside that I’ve found this semester is that getting into a groove has been difficult. When I knew I had a 45-minute commute to and from campus, that made my time all the more valuable; I knew that I had to use what little I had wisely. I’m not saying I’ve been slacking this semester… just the opposite, actually. I feel like I’ve worked my tail off even though I remain behind. A good part of this may be due to the MLK holiday and our numerous snow days in recent weeks – there has yet to be a normal week this semester, so to speak. I am confident it will all come together when I gain an appreciation of the normalcy of the semester!

As for my classes, two are continuations from courses last semester. The second semester of Greek has proved somewhat harder, as we’ve been introduced to participles, which are nasty beasts in their own right. The second semester of Old Testament History and Literature is shifting the focus to the prophets and wisdom literature, which has so far been enjoyable. Reflections I’ve done on Jonah and Joel, as well as some other selected classwork, will hopefully be soon posted to the blog!

My other two classes are not taken in a traditional classroom. I am taking Church of God history as an online class because the in-class section has a time conflict with my OT2 course. While I thought this course would be dry and boring, it’s been worthwhile to understand the history of the movement with which I now identify closely. Furthermore, I am taking an independent study entitled “Christians and Old Testament Theology,” which has proven enlightening in the regard of relating to the beliefs and understanding of Yahweh espoused by people of Old Testament times. In some cases I believe we read too much into the text, i.e. by trying to reconcile the Scriptures in the light of Jesus. Sometimes we can go too far by stretching the text beyond what would have been understood by the writers and original hearers of these treasured books. But, I digress.

Thank you for reading and for being hopeful along with my regarding Tel Hazor in Israel! Until next time…