DAY 9 – MONDAY, JUNE 18: TEMPLE MOUNT, JEWISH QUARTER, SHORASHIM, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM
Today was the first day of the optional extension. The weather was perfect, with comfortable highs in the mid 80s and full sun. It was our last full day here in Jerusalem.
Leaving the hotel shortly after 7:30 again, we arrived at the Western Wall. Here we stood in a short line to ascend to the Temple Mount. Going through security, we walked the ramp leading into this area where both the 1st and 2nd Temples once stood. Today stands the Dome of the Rock (built in 691 AD). We also saw the Al Asqa mosque (built 20 years after the Dome). We remembered the connections with the Bible with there Temples (Solomon’s First Temple, Jesus teaching in the Temple, Court of the Gentiles, Israelites, Chamber of Hewn Stone, Leviticsl steps, Holy Chamber, etc…). We walked to the inside of the closed Eastern Gate and departed from the western side.
Climbing up to the Jewish Quarter, we visited the Herodian Mansion. Wow, this was quite impressive. After Israel took the Old City in 1967, the opportunity to excavate this area opened up. The ruins are primarily from the 1st century and were destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The ruins displayed reveal that this mansion was owned by someone important, perhaps even the High Priest (like Caiaphas?).
In the heart of the Jewish Quarter is a store named Shorashim. Cramming inside we heard both Dov and Moshe, two Orthodox Jews, share about Jewish customs and their faith. The Q & A time was interesting. Some of the questions touched on the topic of who the Messiah is. After about 30 minutes here, we had some free time to eat, shop, and explore (some climbed the Lutheran Redeemer Church tower for the view of the Old City.
This afternoon we drove to west Jerusalem, we arrived at the Israel Museum. Here we saw the 1:50 model of Jerusalem the way it looked in 70 AD. We retracted the steps of Jesus in and out of this city, including the Temple courts. We also walked through the Shrine of the Book. We saw some of the Dead Sea Scroll texts displayed here. Last, we walked through the archaeological wing of the museum to see the highlights of things that connect us to the Bible. This included the newly-displayed 9th century BC “kingly head.” It was made of faience (glass-like) and reveals the head of either Ben Hadad, Hazel (Aramean kings) or even Ahab (?).
Yad Vashem – Holocaust Museum & Memorial
We ended the day at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial. We heard the personal stories of both Shlomo and Eli about their families. We walked through the Children’s Memorial and later the museum. Although the experience here was quite difficult, it was very moving.
We returned to our hotel for dinner and our last optional walk (to the Promenade). We leave for Jordan tomorrow morning!