DAY 9 – MONDAY, JULY 20
Today was a beautiful day, sunny with highs in the 80s. With Jerusalem being at 2,700 feet above sea level, the crisp and clear air was refreshing. It was a lot less hazy too.
We left the hotel and drove to the top of the Mt. of Olives. Here we could see the Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. We covered both Old and New Testament history, especially related to the life of Jesus. We visited Dominus Flavet (“the Lord weeps”) where we read from Luke 19 (the “Palm Sunday” event) and Zechariah 14. We saw the closed Eastern Gate and remembered the words of Ezekiel 44:1-2.
We walked down this western slope of the Mt. of Olives down to the Garden of Gethsemane. We read about Christ’s agony and betrayal (Luke 22).
We continued by walking into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s (or Lions) Gate. We stopped at the Pools of Bethesda (John 5, about the lame man healed by Jesus) and St. Anne’s Church. We enjoyed singing in this Crusader Church that has a 10 second echo.
From here we walked the Via Dolorosa (the “way of the cross”). We walked past most of the stations to the Holy Sepulcher Church, the most likely place for Christ’s crucifixion site and burial (we plan to visit inside the church on our own on our free day).
After lunch in the heart of the Christian Quarter, we met the bus and drove to Herodium. This was one of Herod the Great’s fortress/palaces located just east of Bethlehem on the edge of the Judean Desert. We hiked to the top of this “artificial” mountain, and then through the cistern system. This was where Herod was buried (his tomb was found in 2010).
Driving towards Bethlehem, we stopped in the Shepherds’ Fields where we reflected upon Christ’s birth. We read from Luke 2 and rejoiced with carols in God’s perfect timing in sending Jesus (Gal. 4:4). Driving into Bethlehem, we stopped at an olive wood store for some shopping.
We ended the day with a “surprise” visit to Shlomo’s community. The view of the city of Jerusalem was amazing from here! We also enjoyed cake and the celebration of Elisa and Josh’s 2nd anniversary.
We drove back to hotel for dinner and an optional walk to the promenade of Jerusalem. Some enjoyed ice cream at the Old Railroad station too! A great first day here in Jerusalem!
DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JULY 21: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM