This is a time of great passions and turmoil. It seems that things never have been worse, but God in his wisdom has given us a tool to make sense of a chaotic world. It is called “history,” which can guide and inspire us, if we would let it. Don’t believe me? I am a storyteller, and I invite you to share a journey in time and space.

Imagine. After walking through an uninhabited desert wilderness, you see in the distance a startlingly green oasis, surrounded by palm trees. You have arrived at a location Time magazine called “the most beautiful place on earth,” and some religious people believe was the entrance to the “Garden of Eden.”

After a while you come to a road sign with the name of the community, put up by the original inhabitants. You can’t read it, because it is written in Canaanite.

Further down the path you come to the ruins of an ancient fort built by the Egyptians, the region’s greatest military power. The town had been occupied as a frontier early warning position against the Nile Empire’s enemies — the Hittites.

In front of the fort is a stone wall with a list of ancient names. It was erected to honor soldiers who died in the service of the pharaoh. The resemblance to the modern world is uncanny, and you feel a chill of insight into the endless and continued folly of man.

The winding path soon runs into the “Severus Road,” built long ago by still another of the area’s conquerors — the Roman Empire. Walk down this still-paved thoroughfare once used by chariots. You will a pass a public lavatory that once had running water, an ancient bar and the remains of a bathhouse. Experience the town’s amphitheater, whose building and marvelous acoustics survived and is still used today.

In this historically pagan town lived a community of Jews, divided into a wide variety of subgroups. Few would survive the Roman-inspired pogrom at the time of the “Great Jewish Revolt,” but, interestingly enough, from it the Christian sect emerged as a politically distinct and separate faith.

Whether you believe this story or not, come and hear it. This paradox from the past will haunt you, as it does Larry Koch, Ed.D, the program’s presenter.

The story I have told above is true, and there is still more to tell. Come and learn the tale of Bet She’an, see the beautiful oasis, the Canaanite sign and all the rest at a special meeting of the Dover Library’s History Book Club on Thursday at 4 p.m. Our focus this month is on ancient history.

Call Larry Koch at 335-8344 for information, questions or an advanced copy of our newsletter.

Larry Koch

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