It seems so long ago that we were in Israel for vacation, but it really hasn’t been that long…less than 3 months, actually. But I’ve been very busy since then….and haven’t had a chance to shoot much since.
The tour we were on was called the “Biblical Imagination Tour” and somewhat focused on letting the stories of the Bible inform our imaginations for the things we saw and heard.
In the New Testament, Jesus makes a statement to his followers about faith, and it goes something like this: “If you have enough faith, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it will be moved!” (Paraphrasing there.) Now where do you suppose he got the inspiration to make such a statement?
It is quite possible that as he was making this statement, he was looking in a southerly direction and could see the location of Herodium (which I’ve written about before). Today’s photo (taken on a hazy, overcast day) is a telephoto shot from Bethlehem (as I recall) looking toward the Herodium, which is located on top of the rightmost hill. But here’s where it gets interesting: King Herod was a stupendous builder – but also a brutal murderer who was intensely hated by the people he ruled – the residents of Israel. He had killed so many and was so intensely hated that just before he died, he commanded for 70 of the Jewish leaders be killed on the day he died so that someone would cry that day. The Roman emperor also made the statement, “I’d rather be Herod’s pig than his son. Herod would never kill a pig.” (Jews believed pigs were unclean and would not touch them…but Herod had killed sons by the time this statement was made.)
But, back to the picture and Jesus’ words. The hills didn’t always look like they do in the picture. In order to build the Herodium, which was on top of the right-most hill, Herod ordered his builders to “move” the mountain to the left to the one on the right so that it would be higher and so that the Herodium (a fortress/retreat) could be surrounded by dirt brought over from the mountain on the left. So, it is quite likely that Jesus was looking at this scene and used what Herod had done to inspire his statement.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1951, a homemade device exploded at Grand Central Station in New York City, startling commuters but injuring no one. In the next few months, five more bombs were found at landmark sites around New York, including the public library. Authorities realized that this new wave of terrorist acts was the work of the Mad Bomber.
New York’s first experience with the so-called Mad Bomber was on November 16, 1940, when a pipe bomb was left in the Edison building with a note that read, “Con Edison crooks, this is for you.” More bombs were recovered in 1941, each more powerful than the last, until the Mad Bomber sent a note in December stating, “I will make no more bomb units for the duration of the war.” He went on to say that Con Edison, New York’s electric utility company, would be brought to justice in due time.
The patriotic Mad Bomber made good on his promise, although he did periodically send threatening notes to the press. After his flurry of activity in 1951, the Mad Bomber was silent until a bomb went off at Radio City Music Hall in 1954. In 1955, the Mad Bomber hit Grand Central Station, Macy’s, the RCA building and the Staten Island Ferry.
The police had no luck finding the Mad Bomber, but an investigative team working for Con Ed finally tracked him down. Looking through their employment records, they found that George Peter Metesky had been a disgruntled ex-employee since an accident in 1931. Metesky was enraged that Con Ed refused to pay disability benefits and resorted to terrorism as his revenge.
Metesky, a rather mild-mannered man, was found living with his sisters in Connecticut. He was sent to a mental institution in April 1957 where he stayed until his release in 1973.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Japan’s massive 2011 earthquake shifted the earth’s mass toward the center, causing the planet to spin faster and shortening the day by 1.6 microseconds. The 2004 Sumatra quake shorted the day by 6.8 microseconds.