DAY 8 – SUNDAY, JUNE 17: WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, SOUTHERN STEPS, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SILOAM POOL, DRAINAGE CHANNEL, HOLY SEPULCHER CHURCH, POOLS OF BETHESDA, FAREWELL DINNER
Today was another great day! It was the last day for those not doing the trip extension. The sun was bright again with temps a little cooler in the high 80s today.
City of David
Departing once again this morning at 7:30 after breakfast, we drove down in the Hinnom Valley to the City of David. At first we did two things: we viewed the area from an observation tower and we watched a 3-D movie about the history of the city. We focused on David’s conquering of the city of Jebus (the previous name of the city, 2 Samuel 5), and Hezekiah’s defense of the city against the Assyrians (2 Kings 20, 2 Chr. 32, Is. 36-37), the Babylonian destruction of the city (2 Chr. 36), and Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the city (Neh. 6).
We walked past David’s palace (2 Samuel 5), through the “Area G” excavations, and descending down through Warren’s Shaft(the original theory was that this was the “water shaft” up through which Joab and the rest of David’s men conquered Jebus). Arriving at the Gihon Spring (where Solomon was brought into kingship, 1 Kings 1), most walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (1,720 feet long) while some walked through the “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloamwhere we read from John 9 in dramatic fashion.
Drainage Channel / Jewish Quarter
While the bus drove some in the group up to the Southern Wall excavations, others walked up through the Herodian drainage channel back to the SW corner of the Temple. We literally walked under the Herodian stone pavement all the way back up to the SW corner of the Temple!
Southern Wall Excavations
Gathering below Robinsons Arch, our focus here was to retrace the steps of Jesus here and understand more about the Temple in His day. This Temple Mount expansion project of Herod began in 20 BC, and seeing how massive these stones were was incredible. Even Jesus’ disciples made a similar comment (Mark 13:1-2). Here we saw not only massive stones, but we walked on the same Herodian pavement as Jesus did! Here at the SW corner of the Temple may have been the same location of Jesus’ temptation (some suggest the SE corner). On the southern end of the Temple we walked up the very same steps Jesus did. Sitting on the steps we recalled the stories from the NT of those who used the same steps (Mark 12, Luke 2,18; John 10; Acts 2,3,5).
Holy Sepulcher Church / Via Dolorosa / Pools of Bethesda / St. Anne’s Church
After eating in the Jewish Quarter and an extended lunch break, we walked to the Holy Sepulcher Church. This was a church built in 325 by Helena, the mother of Constantine. We explored the church on our own before walking through the Old City. We followed the Via Dolorosa (“way of there cross” even tough the most likely route Jesus took to Golgatha was from Herod’s palace right inside Jaffa Gate today).
This took us to the Pools of Bethesda (John 5, healing of the paralyzed man) and St. Anne’s Church. This Crusader church has an amazing 8 second echo. We sounded like an angelic choir here as we sang a few songs.
From here we returned to the hotel. We enjoyed our farewell dinner together. Those leaving tonight were then escorted to the airport. The rest of the group was taken to the Western Wall Tunnels where we walked the entire length of this retaining wall. We saw the Master Course (a stone that weighs 100s of tons) as well as other large stones carefully placed. We returned to the hotel and retired for the night.
DAY 9 – MONDAY, JUNE 18: ARRIVAL BACK IN THE STATES (for 25).
Those flying back will arrive back home after their night flight.