Our Guide Steve

I don't know if all this will come across as funny as it was in real life, but I have to give it a try anyway. While we were in Israel, the tour company assigned a guide to us, to lead us around the sites and point out little-known facts about the locations. Our guide's name was Steve.

Steve is 64 years old and is from New York City. Since he was born Jewish, he took advantage of the opportunity to relocate to Israel and become a citizen there. All Israeli young men, and now even women, are required to serve two years in the military. Steve had objections to Israel's policy concerning the Palestinians and refused to serve in the West Bank. So the government threw him into jail for seven years. When he was released he went to Syracuse University to get a PhD in some kind of religious/sociological field [he really didn't want to talk about it] and has been a professional guide for about 25 years. He's fluent in Modern Hebrew, Arabic, German and French and knew both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures forwards and backwards.

Usually people as intelligent as Steve are rather eccentric. And I believe that in all my years of life on Planet Earth I've never met another character like him. For some reason he reminded me of Charlton Heston as seen in Michael Moore's Bowling For Columbine. He walked everywhere with both a fanny pack, a backpack, and a megaphone contraption. He didn't move his arms while walking. And after he finished speaking a thought, he would stare off into space, as if waiting for the voice inside his head to give him permission to move on. Oh, and in the middle of the week he began telling us stories in a mouse voice. It was impossible to have a normal conversation with him. Yeah, he was classic.

So at one point during the week, while we were at the bottom of the temple mount area, he pulled out his Bible and read Psalm 24- the whole "Who will ascend the hill of the Lord" text. And once again, when he finished reading the text, he stared off into space [everytime he read Scripture, it was as if he was auditioning for Macbeth]. He then, from his Jewish perspective, talked about the importance of temple worship and approaching the temple mount. Interesting info, just a different kind of presentation.

Later that afternoon we had the opportunity to walk through Hezekiah's Tunnel. The tunnel, a waterway which King Hezekiah built to bring water into the city, is located in the Old City of David, just south of the temple mount. We knew we would be walking in a water filled cave that was four-football fields long. Steve's story was the the water would probably go up to our knees. I guess his interpretation of knees is different than mine; at some points, I had water up to my chest. After 45 minutes of traversing the chilly water in the tunnel, we exited at the Pool of Siloam. It was about 5pm. It was fifty degree weather with a blowing wind. We had no change of clothes and no towels to dry off with. We were freezing our butts off. Adding to the experience was that the place where we ended up was at the bottom of this hill south of Jerusalem.

So we're marching up this huge steep hill to get back to the rest of our group. There's traffic flying by on the road next to us. We're soaked and cold, tired and miserable, all while following our tour guide Steve in a straight line up the mountain. He hadn't said a word to us in ten minutes. Then all of the sudden he stops. He pauses and looks at us. And he shouts out in his loud theatrical voice:


And then he pauses, looking up to the sky for five seconds. And he begins walking again without saying another word for like fifteen minutes.

It was the craziest thing I ever saw. I tried holding back but I just started cracking up. It was like something out of a movie.

And I'll never read Psalm 24 the same way ever again.