…O, Lord, my God,
I pray that these things never end:
The sand and the sea,
The rush of the waters,
The crash of the heavens,
The prayer of man. *
As I listened to Rebekah’s hauntingly beautiful voice, sitting in Zippori’s open-air amphitheater, I closed my eyes, felt the heat of Israel’s sun, and the soft current of Israel’s breeze on my skin. So astonishing are the acoustics of this ancient architecture, I could hear, and even feel, every nuance of the poetry being sung, moving me to tears. I thought about the loveliness of Israel, and the depth of love Israelis feel for their land. Hard-fought for, and hard-won is their home.
I’m so grateful for the Akko Excavation’s approach, employing what the directors term “Total Archaeology.” Included in the itinerary of digging at the Tel, sifting through pails of earth for tiny fragments of antiquity, cleaning the buckets and buckets of pottery, bone, metals, and “special finds,” sorting, registering, and tabulating all the artifacts, are daily lectures on history, archaeology, and other supporting disciplines, and weekly tours of archaeologically significant sites.
Today, our tour included the ancient cities of Magdala, Capernaum, and the exquisite black asphalt town of Chorazim, and began with Zippori, called “the ornament of Galilee.” The Romans built its coliseum, and many like it throughout the Mediterranean, to advance the culture of Rome into their spreading empire. Zippori also has some of the most beautiful mosaics I’ve seen, including the renowned “Nile Mosaic.”
It was here Rebekah gave us the gift of her music, the gift of Hannah Szenes’ poetry, and the gift of suspended time, experiencing for a few moments the longing, anguish, and ardor of an ancient people, loved of God.
* Hannah Szenes (Senesh) was born in Hungary in 1921. She emigrated to Palestine in 1939, but returned as a resistance worker in 1944 to aid in the effort to smuggle Jews out of Hungary. She was caught, tortured, and killed that same year. Hannah wrote prolifically, and many of her poems are deeply meaningful to Israelis, Jews, and others.
Rebekah Call is a PhD student in Religious Studies—Hebrew Bible at Claremont Graduate University. She came to Akko to increase her knowledge of the archaeological process and to build good relationships with the faculty and with the other students.
[Feature Image, Chorazin | Hoshvilim [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D