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Tourism officials in the city of Jericho hope a new museum will help attract more visitors to the area, because it highlights a tree that could date to the time of Jesus. The Bible records that a tax collector named Zacchaeus climbed a tree to get a better of Jesus as he passed through the town. For years a sycamore tree has stood on a side street of the city and attracted a few tourist buses to get a picture of what many believe to be the same tree Zacchaeus climbed. The tree will now be a featured attraction of a Russian-funded museum complex in Jericho. Officials hope the $3 million dollar museum and visitor’s center will encourage more visitors to come to the area.

Local lore has maintained the tree, whose truck measures 7 feet in diameter, is the tree from the Biblical account. It will be ringed with perimeter wall of the museum complex, with a tiled walkway providing access. The Palestinian Tour Director says tests have shown the sycamore tree is more than 2,000 years old, although the exact age cannot be determined because sycamore trees do not have growth rings. The tree does have a rival nearby. In the courtyard of a Greek Orthodox church, the trunk of a dead tree is encased in glass, with a sign proclaiming it to be the tree from the Bible’s account. Anna Boertveit, a tourist from Norway, takes the uncertainty in stride. She says, “Of course, we’ve heard stories from the Bible, and I can image that it would be like this. If it’s really the tree does not matter that much to me.”

--Ancient tree to help turn Jericho into tourism hub, http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i0NOyK___vWLco89kDbEAn0rWwkgD9IJ4R400?docId=D9IJ4R400; October 1, 2010, Illustration by Jim L. Wilson and Jim Sandell

John 20:29 (NASB77) “Jesus * said to him, ‘Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.’”

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