Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Royal Crown, Jericho, Israel
Royal Train, Jericho, Israel

Peacocks are only native to Asia in countries like India and Indochina and also the African Congo basin. It’s no surprise that they’re birds of the colorful pheasant family. The iridescent feathers and large “train” of peacocks along with their eerie piercing call have caught the attention and imagination of mankind for eons. The peacock was seen as a guardian to royalty and engravings can be found on their thrones. The monarchy of Iran is referred to as the Peacock throne.

The peacock is first mentioned in the Bible when Solomon, the wisest and richest king that ever lived, sent his ships abroad to return every three years “bringing gold, and silver, and ivory, and apes, and peacocks”. No doubt peacocks walked the elaborate gardens of ancient kings and became associated with paradise. Because ancient Greek legend believed that the flesh of a peacock never decays after death it became a symbol of immortality. Therefore, it is often depicted next to the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden for Christians. Mankind also began to observe that the peacock sheds its old feathers every year and grows more brilliant ones to replace them—a beautiful sign of renewal. Paintings and mosaics of peacocks on the walls of third century Rome catacombs became early Christian symbols for resurrection, renewal and immortality. And the multiple blueberry eyes of the peacock’s train has been associated with an all-seeing God. Regardless of the associations, a male peacock definitely knows how to attract a female peahen!

Our recent pilgrimage to Israel included exploring archeological digs at Jericho, reputed to be the oldest occupied city in the world. The area has been the site of copious springs which has attracted civilizations to rebuild up to twenty settlements mounded on top of one another. One of these sites enabled us to visually exam this phenomenon of the rise of mankind back some 11,000 years to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch of Earth’s history. It was here at Jericho that Jesus healed a blind man and related the parable of the Good Samaritan on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was here that the Bible records the only time that Jesus invited himself to someone’s home for dinner—the home of little Zacchaeus the tax collector who was hated by both Jews and Gentiles.

We enjoyed a local luncheon at a location that also included a rather large retail area selling a variety of products sure to attract tourists such as olive wood carvings, brightly colored scarves, and a large inventory of Dead Sea mineral beauty products. I bought a unique olive wood carving and ambled outside with my ever-present camera to browse for a photo op. As I walked around the building I was greeted with the eerie call of a brilliant peacock strolling the grounds like royalty. If you had given me a hundred guesses about what I would encounter that day, I would have never thought of a peacock! But here we were in the cradle of civilization following the footsteps of Jesus, ancient kings and legions of ancestors on the sandy paths of long ago created star dust. And here I was confronted by one of history’s most revered symbols of that royalty.


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