DAY 8 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10:
Today would be another sunny day, with highs in the 90s (a bit above normal for Jerusalem this time of year). Pulling out of the hotel once again shortly after 7:30, we drove to the excavations of the City of David.
The City of David was previously called Jebus. According to the Bible, David conquered the city (2 Sam. 5). We saw many of the ruins here (walls towers, David’s fortress) dating to biblical times. Walking through Warren’s Shaft we came to the water source of there city, the Gihon Spring. Here is also where some in the group entered Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a 1,720 foot water tunnel carved out of the bedrock. Some in the group walked through the earlier “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we heard John 9 read in dramatic fashion. Here we celebrated that Jesus continues to open our eyes and hearts, allowing us to see Him.
From here some in the group walked up the Herodian drainage channel up to the south wall excavations of Herod’s Temple, while others took the bus up to this area. Meeting at the SW corner of the Temple, we stood amazed at the remarkable building project of Herod’s temple. Even the disciples made this comment (Mark 13:1-2). Finally, we walked to the southern steps of the Temple, the primary way for commoners to enter the Temple in Jesus’ day. We remembered the stories of many who would have used there steps (Jesus, disciples, Simeon, Peter, Paul, and the apostles, etc…). Before leaving this area, we also entered the Western Wall area.
This afternoon we drove south to the area of Bethlehem. First, we enjoyed lunch outside the Shepherds’ Fields before descending down into a cave. Here we considered the role of the shepherds in Jesus’ day and the amazement of God’s redemptive plan! It was “just at the right time that God sent His Son. (Gal. 4:4).” We enjoyed singing a few Christmas carols in the cave as well as in the small chapel.
Further east is Herodium. This was where Herod the Great was buried. The view from the top of this “palace-fortress” was good. We could see Jerusalem to the north, the Dead Sea and Judea Desert to the east, and Bethlehem to the west. We left the site by descending down through the cistern system. We also saw where Herod was buried.
Our last stop of the day was an olive wood factory and store in Bethlehem. We joined not only seeing how the olive wood items are made, but also some shopping here.
We drove back to the hotel for our farewell dinner. Nearly half in the group are flying home tonight back to the States. Shlomo and David drove these folks to the Ben Gurion Airport for their night-flight home. The other half of the group will enjoy a four more days here in Israel.
DAY 9 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: ARRIVAL BACK IN THE U.S.A OR BEGINNING OF THE OPTIONAL EXTENSION – SHILOH AND HIKE IN WADI QELT/JUDEAN DESERTby