DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JUNE 25: ARRIVAL BACK HOME and/or JERUSALEM: WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, YAD VASHEM, ISRAEL MUSEUM
For those doing the optional extension, today was another full day in Jerusalem. The weather was once again sunny, with highs around 90. We said goodbye, however, to nine in the group who flew home today on various flights.
Western Wall / Tunnels
Leaving the hotel at 7:35, we drove to the Western Wall. We entered the archaeological area called the Western Wall Tunnels (also called Rabbinical Tunnels). Here we saw massive stones that we part of the western retaining wall Herod used to expand the Temple platform. It was fascinating to see all the massive stones (Mark 13:1-2) remarkably put into place here 2,000 years ago. Before leaving the area, we also spent some time at the Wall itself.
Climbing the steps up to the Jewish Quarter, we entered an amazing site called Herodian Mansion. Excavated in the late 1960s and 70s, we walked through 1st century ruins that date to the time of Jesus. Some suggest that a house like this could be the home of the High Priest (Caiaphas?, Luke 22).
“This was our last day in Jerusalem. I really was impacted at Yad Vashem. Hearing Shlomo’s story brought the reality of the Holocaust to a new level.” -Tour Member-
Walking out of the Zion’s Gate, we boarded back on the bus and drove to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum. We first visited the Valley of the Communities, a place that honors all the Jewish cities, towns, and communities throughout Europe. After lunch at the visitor center, we listened to Shlomo’s personal story. He lost 12 family members in the Holocaust who lived in Vilna, Poland. We then walked through the Children’s Memorial (1.5 million children were killed) before walking through the museum itself on our own. It was an emotionally-moving experience to be here.
Our last stop of the day was to the Israel Museum. We were pleased to have Lois Tverberg and her family walk with us here (Lois is the author of a number of books on the Hebraic background of Jesus, e.g. Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus, etc…). We first saw an amazing 1:50 replica/model of Jerusalem of what it looked like in 70 AD. We made many biblical connections with the activity and ministry of Jesus here. We highlighted Jesus’ ministry in and through this city, including the location of His crucifixion and burial. Next, we walked through the Shrine of the Book where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Some of the original scrolls are displayed here! Finally, we walked through the archaeological wing of the museum, seeing the highlights (e.g. Dan & Pilate Inscriptions, Moses’ Seat, Asherah figurines, the Hazael or Ahab (possibly?) head, ossuaries, Herod’s coffin, among many other things. We even saw what looks like a glass pie plate that dates 1,900 years old!
At the end of the day we drove back to our hotel for dinner and a free night. We all look forward to crossing into Jordan tomorrow!