Saturday, March 15 – Day 8
It was another sunny day here in Jerusalem. Leaving again at 7:30, our first destination was the Mt. of Olives. Circling the Old City to the north and then east, we arrived for the spectacular view of the Temple Mount. From here we could see many things. We read the Palm Sunday story from Luke 19 as well as Zechariah 14 that speaks of Christ’s return to the Mt. of Olives. From here we walked down to the Garden of Gethsemane we where spent a few moments of reflection and quietness pondering the passion of Christ. We read from Luke 22.
Next, we entered the Old City through the “Lion’s Gate” (also called St. Stephens or Jericho Gate). Our first stop inside the Old City was the Pools of Bethesda. Here, we sang in St. Anne’s Church (with an 8-10 second echo) and saw the ruins of this ancient pool mentioned in John 5. From here we walked along part of the traditional “Via Dolorosa.” This “way of the cross” is quite busy and crowded with vendors and tourists.
Exiting the Old City through the Zion’s Gate, we were picked up by our bus and drove to Herodium. Located just east of Bethlehem at the edge of the Wilderness of Judah (and by the village of Tekoa, where the prophet Amos was from), this was the burial place for King Herod. We hiked up to the top of this “artificial” hill and were impressed by this palace built by King Herod. We walked through the water/cistern system to leave the site.
The afternoon was spent in west Jerusalem. First, we visited the Israel Museum where we saw the 1:50 scale model of 1st century Jerusalem. We also saw the highlights of the archaeological wing of the museum. Most of what we saw connected to the Bible in one way or another. Nearby was Yad Veshem, the Holocaust Museum & Memorial. It was moving to hear Shlomo’s family story in Poland during WWII. We walked through the Children’s Memorial (1.5 million children were killed), and the museum itself. It was a humbling experience.
We returned to our hotel for dinner. An optional walk followed to Ben Yehuda Street. With today and tomorrow being “Purim,” (a Jewish holiday commemorating the life of Esther), it was a lot of fun to see some modern Israeli life.
Monday, March 17 – Day 9
We plan to see the City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Southern Wall excavations, Jewish Quarter, and the Garden Tomb.