DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 6
Today we left the hotel at 8:15. Our first stop was to the Garden Tomb. This is a second traditional location for the crucifixion and burial-tomb site of Jesus. We saw what was suggested to us as Golgotha, the garden, and the tomb itself. We also enjoyed a time of worship and Communion together.
From this location north of the Old City, we boarded back on the bus and drove to an area south of the Old City today, the City of David. We visited and saw the palace of David, the excavations on the eastern slope of the city (“Area G”), Warren’s Shaft, and finally the tower guarding the source of water the Gihon Spring. We read from 2 Samuel 5 (the conquering of the city of Jebus by David), and 2 Kings 20 & 2 Chronicles 32 (about Hezekiah and Sennecherib, the Assyrian king who “surrounded Jerusalem like a bird in a cage.”).
Getting our water shoes on and flashlights ready, we walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. This is a 1720 foot tunnel carved out of the bedrock by Hezekiah in order to bring water into the city during the Assyrian siege. We exited the tunnel at the Pool of Siloam. We read from John 9 about the blind man healed by Jesus here. The steps of the pool were excavated about 6 years ago.
From here, half of the group walked back up to the southern excavations of the Temple through the Herodian drainage channel. With the Roman street stones above us most of the way, it was also an exciting adventure. At the end of the channel, we popped up like “moles” right under Robinson’s Arch. Here we saw the Roman street, the massive stones brought down by the Romans in 70 AD, and the pinnacle of the Temple. Further east were the Temple steps. We walked up them in similar fashion as they did 2,000 years ago. Here we recalled a number of stories from the New Testament relating to the Temple (Luke 2 – Joseph, Jesus, Simeon; Mark 13 – a disciple’s comments on the awe of the Temple; Luke 18 – the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector going up to the Temple; John 10, Acts 3 & 5 – the royal portico/porch; and Acts 2 – Pentecost).
Walking up into the Jewish Quarter, we enjoyed about an hour of free time/late lunch before visiting a Jewish shop called Shoreshim. Here we listened to Moshe, an Orthodox Jew, talk about his Jewish faith. It was very insightful!
We returned to the hotel, only to refresh up for our farewell dinner at the Olives & Fish restaurant. It was a great time of relaxing and conversation. Following dinner, some in the group enjoyed walking back to the hotel. With tonight being the “33rd after Omer” (honoring an event dating back to the Bar Kochba War in the 2nd century AD), we saw many bonfires all throughout Jerusalem.
It was a great last day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 12 – THURSDAY, MAY 7
We plan to fly to Istanbul early in the morning, and then to Izmir. We plan to visit Ephesus. We will overnight back in Izmir.