When you are visiting the Holy Land, it is very tempting to just look for archeological ruins and relics and want to know exactly where things happened. This makes your trip though incomplete! A major part of your learning is understanding the context of the Bible and the land in which the events occurred. So many things are described using examples of nature, from the weather to the terrain and the animals.
Here is a short list of the many animals you should be on the look for next time you are in the Promised Land. You never know when one will pop up on your trip and then make your Bible study so much richer!
Camels. At some point on your journey, you may be given the opportunity to ride a camel, but you will also see them in herds as you drive through the deserts. Make sure you keep an eye out the window on the bus. (Genesis 24:10, Leviticus 11:4, Isaiah 30:6, and Matthew 3:4, 19:24, and 23:24)
Cattle. You may not see the same breeds they had 2 thousand years ago, but the Golan Heights have herds of them right next to the Syrian border. You may be surprised that you are still in Israel watching the herds eat on hills of green grass! (Isaiah 11:7, Daniel 4:25, Luke 14:5)
Cranes. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may see massive flocks of cranes en route between Africa and Europe using Israel as a layover. Isaiah 38:14
Hyrax. Hyraxes are large gopher-like animals that lives among the cliffs. Leviticus 11:5
Sheep and Goat herds. Shepherding is still a profession in Israel, especially among the Bedouins. You will see flocks of sheep (Exodus 12:5, 1 Samuel 17:34, Matthew 25:33, Luke 15:4, John 10:7) and goats ( 1 Samuel 17:34, Genesis 15:9 and 37:31, Daniel 8:5, Leviticus 16:7, Matthew 25:33) being moved around the desert.
Now here is a bonus… lions. Yes, there WERE lions in Israel, as spoken of in the Bible, (Judges 14:8, 1 Kings 13:24, Isaiah 30:6 and 65:25, Daniel 6:7, Ezekiel 1:10, 1 Peter 5:8, Revelation 4:7 and 13:2) however, they disappeared from the region sometime around the 13th century. There used to also be bears, cheetahs, crocodiles and even hippos! Sadly, due to overhunting, these are no longer seen in the country, with the beginning of the 20th century ending sightings of the bears, cheetahs and crocodiles. The hippos have not been seen for 3,000 years.
If you want to see even more animals from the Bible, speak to your tour operator about adding the Bible Zoo to your itinerary in Jerusalem. Particularly good for families, they have a wide variety of animals spoken of in the Hebrew bible, keeping their legacy alive even if they are no longer in the wild in Israel.
Don’t forget to look at your surroundings and see the fingerprints of God all around you!