DAY 12: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9:
Today was our first day in Jerusalem and it was a good one. The weather was a bit cooler but with very enjoyable partly sunny skies. Temps were in the low 70s.
City of David
Leaving the hotel around 7:30, we drove directly to the City of David excavations. First, we enjoyed a view and briefing of the area from an observation tower. Looking east we saw the Mt. Of Olives. Looking north was the Temple Mount (the location of the 1st and 2nd temples). Looking south we saw the ancient site of Jerusalem as described by the Bible.
Following a short video, we walked down through the excavations. We saw David’s palace (2 Samuel 5) and other stone structures from Hezekiah and Nehemiah’s time. Continuing south, we descended through Warren’s Shaft (proposed back in the last 70s/early 80s as the “water shaft” through which Joab climbed up in oder to defeat and conquer the Jebusites (2 Sam. 5). Finally we arrived at the new excavations that revealed the water system of the Canaanites. The Gihon Spring here was protected by a massive stone tower.
At the Gihon Spring (where Solomon was initiated as king, I Kings 1) some walked through the Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chronicles 32) while others walked through the older Canaanite tunnel. Hezekiah’s Tunnel is 1,720 feet long and was chiseled through the rock in order to bring water to the inside part of the city. Both groups gathered at the Pool of Siloam where we read from John 9 in dramatic fashion.
Southern Wall Excavations
Our last stop of the morning was the south wall excavations of the Temple. Some in the group walked through the drainage channel to get there, while others bussed there. Gathering together again there, we saw the Herodian pavement (used by Jesus) and there SW corner of the Temple (the pinnacle?). We also walked up the steps of the southern steps of the Temple as well. We recalled the many stories related to the Temple (Luke 2; Mark 12, 13; John 10; Acts 3 and 5). We also considered that we are to be living stones (I Peter 2) connected to Jesus, the Living Stone!
Leaving the Old City through the Dung Gate, we drove to the Israel Museum. After having lunch there, we saw three things here: (1). A 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem. We could see many of the places where Jesus ministered here and around the Temple courts. (2). The Shrine of the Book. Here we saw a few fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran. (3). Highlights from the archaeological wing of the museum. Here we saw many artifacts related to the Bible (e.g. the Dan & Pilate inscriptions, Asherah figurines, ancient weaponry, the “to the place of trumpeting” inscription, and Herod’s sarcophagus, to name a few).
Our last stop was to Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum & Memorial. The name is taken from Isaiah 56:5. Shlomo shared about his family (he lost 12 family members in Poland due to the Holocaust). We then walked through the Children’s Memorial before taking time on our own inside the museum itself. It was an emotionally-moving experience.
Driving back to the hotel around 6, we enjoyed dinner, followed by an optional walk to Ben Yehuda for a taste of “modern Israeli life” and some shopping.