DAY 13: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10:
Today was our second day in Jerusalem. On yet another (but cooler) day, the sun greeted us! We have been blessed with perfect weather and temps!
Western Wall Tunnel
We left this morning at 7:15, in time to make our reservation at the Western Wall Tunnel. We read John 2 and Mark 13 along the way. Arriving shortly after, we spent some time at the Wall. Many of the ultra-Orthodox were praying under their tallies (prayer shawls). At 8, we embarked on a fascinating walk that took us north along this western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. We saw massive stones, one (the Master Course) weighing hundreds of tons! Indeed, these Herodian stones are impressive (see Mark 13:1-2).
Moshe @ Shorashim
Walking up to the Jewish Quarter, we visited Shorashim (“roots” in Hebrew). Here, an Orthodox friend named Moshe shared about his Jewish thought and practice. It was very interesting to hear him respond to a few questions in regard to our Christian view of faith. This biblical shop was also a great place to purchase jewelry (as well as other items) that has a connection with the Bible.
Next, we visited the Temple Institute. Located close by, we learned about how this Jewish organization is preparing to build the Third Temple. All the temple furnishings are prepared already. Following the completion of this tour, we enjoyed lunch on our own here in the Jewish Quarter.
Following lunch here in the Jewish Quarter and some free time for shopping and “people-watching,” we walked together out of the Old City through Zion’s Gate. Upon boarding the bus, we drove south and east of the Jerusalem about 8-9 miles to Herodium. This was where Herod the Great himself was buried (he died in Jericho in 4 BC). Following a brief explanation at the site, we hiked up this “artificial mound” to the top. The view from the top allowed us to see many things: To the east – the Judea Desert & the Dead Sea; to the west – Bethlehem (just a few miles away); to the north – the Mt. of Olives; and to the south – Tekoa, the hometown of Amos the prophet. Among the archaeological ruins we saw the synagogue, the bathhouse, and a quick peak at the royal arches (not yet open to the public). We read Psalm 63 and Isaiah 40, passages that have the Judea Desert as its context. We left the site by descending down into the cistern system, used primarily by the Bar Kochba Jews in the 2nd century AD.
Shepherds’ Fields & Bethlehem
A few miles to the west are the Shepherds’ Fields. Walking down into a cave, we read from Luke 2 about the birth of Jesus. We celebrated with a few Christmas carols God’s redemptive history being fulfilled with Jesus’ birth! Jesus came “just at the right time…” – Gal. 4:4). We also enjoyed some singing in the Shepherds’ Chapel. What great acoustics! Driving into Bethlehem, we ended the day by going to an olive wood shop and store. On the way back to the hotel, we made a very nice surprise visit to Shlomo’s community. The view of the lights of Jerusalem was spectacular!
We returned to our hotel for dinner and a free evening. We have one more day to go here in Jerusalem!