It’s not often I get excited about hotel bathrooms. Granted, when I arrive at a hotel in Israel, there is always a nice assortment of soaps, shampoos, and lotions decoratively displayed on the countertop. I particularly enjoy it when there is a white bathrobe, complete with white slippers, hanging on the door. I suppose it makes me feel special in some distorted way. Then again, as a tour leader, maybe all of this isn’t about me but about an attempt to bribe me for future business. But with my room facing east in this particular hotel in Jerusalem, what I got all excited about was the view out the window right above the bathroom sink. It as a view of the Old City of Jerusalem, and much more!
I’ve never looked out of any bathroom window this long let alone have a bathroom window, but in one long glance I could see a lot of things. The first thing I looked for was the Institute of Holy Land Studies (now called Jerusalem University College, or JUC). This is where my life changed as a one-year student back in 1981-82. What a great location, with virtually a few minutes walk from Jaffa Gate or Zion’s Gate. I still can’t believe it’s been 30 years now since I lived here. I simply can’t be this old now, can I? Oh, the education and experiences I gained here.
Between the school and my hotel bathroom window is the Hinnom Valley. In the Old Testament days, this valley was associated with rubbish and judgement. In Second Temple times, the valley was known as the Gehenna Valley (based on the translation of the Hebrew into Greek). Durin my year of study, it was here I used to play soccer a few days a week with Arab kids. It was also here that I found an impressive skull in one of the few Old Testament tombs that line the surrounding rocky scarp as the valley winds around to the south to join the Kidron Valley.
To the north, the Jaffa Gate can be seen. This gate that actually faces west is the most open gate of all of them. The so-called Citadel of David is here. This area also marked the palace of Herod the Great.
Finally on the eastern horizon is the Mt. of Olives. This was where Jesus began his Palm Sunday ride on a donkey. It was also where Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1). It will also be where Jesus returns to (Zech 14), with the placing of His feet here causing the mountain to split into two, if one takes this passage literally.
So besides brushing my teeth, washing my face, and shaving in the morning from this sink, it’s pretty cool when the “view from the bathroom window” is as historic as this!