DAY 12 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 25: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL
Today was another full sunny day, with highs in the low 60s. Our experiences included both Old and New Testament history and archaeology, with many connections to the Bible once again.
Western Wall Tunnel
Leaving at 7:30 again, we drove down through the Hinnom Valley and then up along the Tyropean Valley to the Dung Gate. Here we entered the Western Wall area. Many Jews were here for morning prayers. We then walked parallel to this western retaining wall that Herod built. We saw massive stones (one called the Master Course that weighs hundred of tons!). We also saw the newly-discovered odeon (small theater). Back in the prayer area, many went down to the Wall for a time of prayer.
“My favorite experience today was walking up and sitting on the very steps of the Temple. These steps, along with the Herodian pavement we walked on, were used by Jesus and His disciples to enter the Temple. It is an incredible thought to be able to say, ‘I walked where Jesus walked.'” – Tour participant –
South Wall Excavations
At the SW corner of the Temple Mount is the South Wall Excavations. Here, most of the pavement and stones we saw date to the time of Jesus. We walked on the Herodian pavement and saw the massive stones of the Temple. On the southern side of the Temple we walked up the very steps used by Jesus and the disciples! We remembered the stories from the Gospels that place Jesus here. Like the disciples being impressed by the massive stones here (Mark 13:1-2), we were too. Peter also most likely preached here on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2).
City of David
Just south of the Temple Mount is the City of David. Here we walked down through the excavations after watching a 3D movie. We talked about how David conquered the city (2 Samuel 5, through the water shaft), and how Hezekiah re-fortifed the walls of the city and built a water tunnel during the attempted Assyrian siege (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, Isaiah 36-37). Walking down through Warren’s Shaft, we split into two groups. One group walked through the waters of Hezekiah’s Tunnel while the other group took the “dry” earlier Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read the John 9 story in dramatic fashion.
Free Afternoon in the Old City
Driving from here to the Zion’s Gate, many enjoyed some shopping on their own. Some visited the traditional Upper Room (unfortunately Oscar Schindler’s grave close by was closed). It was a fun time exploring the Old City on our own.
We all walked back to the hotel for dinner and a free evening. It is hard to believe that we have only one more full day here in Israel!