Saturday 20 April 2013

Tamar - Tamara - Thamara - Hazeva

2000 year old bora tree (zizyphus spina christi) at Hazeva - Tamara. This tree was alive when Jesus walked around here... and is said to be the kind of tree from which his crown of thorns was made (hence the botanical name, zizyphus spina christi). It may be the oldest tree in the Holy Land. Its trunk is 7m wide, its height is 14m, and it covers a diameter of 15m.

note the bole of the tree... it could well be 2000 years old. But have you ever heard of a bora tree that old?

Mass under the tree
The last stop was Hazeva - Tamara. The ruins here are well-excavated, but probably hardly visited. The star attraction is the 2000 year old bora tree - zizyphus spina Christi - under which we celebrated the Eucharist, with a very forceful wind that threatened to upset and carry away the hosts and the chalice. The Spirit is the wind - strong, forceful, and cleansing.

Tamar is the biblical name for this place. (Tamar is mentioned in the description of the southern border of the Promised Land between the Dead Sea and the Scorpion’s Ascent [Aqrabbim Pass] - see Numbers 34:4, Joshua 15:3, and Judges 1:36.) The strategic location and the availability of spring water made it ideal for a fortress. The earliest structure found on the site dates back to 10th cent. BC, the times of King Solomon (see layers 4 and 5). Later the Nabateans, the Romans (layer 2) and the Arabs built fortresses there too.

Remains of an Edomite shrine (7th cent. BC) have been discovered on the north side of the fortress walls. A number of cult vessels, all smashed, have been found.

Apparently Tamar was on the Incense and Spice Route, which connected the east (Yemen and Oman), through Arabia, via the Nabatean capital city of Petra, to the port city of Gaza on the Mediterranean. A Nabatean storage room has been found under the ruins of the Roman fortress.

The Romans annexed the Nabatean kingdom in 106 AD. 'Thamara' appears on the Peutinger map, which itself is based on a 4th cent. Roman military road map.

Thamara is also found on the 6th cent. Madaba mosaic map.

The fortress was destroyed by the 344 AD earthquake, and was rebuilt. It was destroyed again in the earthquake of 363 AD, which also destroyed Petra and all parts of Israel. It was never rebuilt. 

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