Thursday, March 22, 2012

Steam chimneys and World Water Day

Our group was in Tiberias, and from afar we saw the tomb of Rabbi Meir the Miracle Worker.
(This is another instance of a "holy industry" that grows up around a holyman's tomb, as we saw in the post about Honi the Circle Drawer.)

At the base of Rabbi Meir's hill is an official park, Hamat Teverya National Park.
It is just across the street from the Sea of Galilee.

Hamat's hot springs have been in continuous use since ancient times.
Some 2,000 meters below the surface are 17 highly saline hot springs long renowned for their healing qualities.
The water can reach 60 degrees C or 140 F.
In the photo above you can see the steam escaping through steam chimneys.

Steam also was coming from this opening and water was flowing from the black pipe.
The water is cleaned and cooled to 33-40 C and then channeled north a bit, to the modern spas of Tiberias.

After use in the baths, the water is conducted to a Mekorot Water Company facility within the national park and from there to a channel that conveys it to the Jordan River south of the Sea of Galilee.
I noticed Mekorot was building something new there last week.

The worker bending rebar, and the black basalt ancient wall behind him, made me wonder which would last for more centuries--the metal or the stone.
Legend has it that when the sick begged King Solomon to find a cure for their ailments, the King ordered legions of demons to go down deep underground near the shore of the Sea of Galilee and heat the springs.
He then struck them deaf so they would never hear of his death and stop heating the springs.
And so the demons carry out his command to this very day.
Today, March 22, is U.N. World Water Day, although they concentrate on fresh water.


  1. just thinking of that warm, moist heat makes my body feel better! that water really makes the rounds...I hope lots of people receive benefit from it! enjoyed your photos!

  2. I love bathing in hot springs.

  3. I hope nobody will ever send a fax to the demons...

  4. That is interesting! Great post for the occasion.
    Thanks so much for your wishes! :)

  5. Hi Dina, thanks for the comment.
    Water is a big deal in the Middle East, but not much here in the U.S., I guess. It was two days ago in New York that I was walking on the 73rd street toward the Central Park that I saw a man trying to clean the sidewalk with water pressure. Then I remembered that doing such was considered waste of water in Iran and perhaps in Israel too. Happy World Water Day! :)

  6. Thanks all, for your fun comments.

    Meead, shalom! Good point. I saw that high pressure cleaning thing only once here. It was just outside the airport terminal. Hopefully it was a special case and not something they do regularly.

  7. What an interesting story about King Solomon. We're planning to bathe in some hot springs in Japan. I wonder if they have a story to explain it too.


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