DAY 12 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 24: SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, POOL OF SILOAM, YAD VASHEM
Today the morning weather was a mixed bag, with bright peaks of sun one minute, and pouring rain another. Temps were only the 40s too, but we made the most of this second full day in Jerusalem. It cleared up in the afternoon.
Southern Wall Excavations
We left the hotel once again at 7:30. We read Psalm 137 as we left. A few stayed behind because of not feeling well. We drove down the Hinnom Valley (2 Car. 34, Jer. 7) and then up the Tyroppean Valley to the south end of the Old City. We entered the Old City through the Dung Gate. First we saw the SW corner of Herod’s Temple. We walked on a 2,000 year-old Herodian street, we saw massive stones of this western retaining wall used by Herod to expands the platform of the Temple. We also saw what’s left of an archway (“Robinson’s Arch“) that supposed an entrance into the Temple by dignitaries. We also saw some of the toppled stones of this wall that came down in 70 AD at the hands of the Romans. Moving to the southern end of the Temple, we walked up the very steps used by Jesus and His disciples. Entrance for commoners was through the Huldah Gates. High above this southern end was the Royal Stoa. The disciples even mentioned in passing their impression of the stones (Mark 13:1-2). After Jesus’ birth, Joseph would have used these steps to present Jesus in the Temple. Peter probably preached in this area on the Day of Pentecost (Shavuot, Acts 2).
“My two favorite experiences today was to climb the steps of the Temple and to walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The steps connected my to Jesus. The the tunnel was just pure fun to experience. Once again I learned that these are real places mentioned in the Bible.” -Tour Member-
City of David
With the rain now pouring, we walked south across the street to the City of David. First, we watched a movie that included stories from the Old Testament such as David’s conquering of the Jebusite city (2 Samuel 5) and Hezekiah’s Tunnel (2 Kings 20, 2 Chr. 32). We then walked down through where David’s palace was located to Area G where Dr. John dug in the the summer of 1982. We then walked further down this eastern slope through Warren’s Shaft. When we arrived at the Canaanite/Jebusite water system and the Gihon Spring (the source of water for this ancient city), we split into two groups. Many walked through the wet 1,720 foot water tunnel chiseled by Hezekiah, while others walked through the dry water channel. Both groups converged on the steps of the Pool of Siloam. Here we read from John 7 (about the Water Libation Festival) and John 9. The man born blind was healed here.
At this point art the southern end of the City of David, David picked us up in the bus and we drove to Yad Vashem. This is Israel’s Holocaust Memorial & Museum. It is named after the verse in Isaiah 56:5, “To them I will give within my temple and its walls a memorial and a name….” We first went through the Children’s Memorial (1.5 million Jewish children were killed). We then continued to the museum itself. It was a humble and sobering experience!
Leaving at 2 p.m. (Yad Vashem closes early on Fridays), we drove back to the hotel where we sat and listened to Shlomo’s personal story. In Vilna, Poland, Shlomo lost 12 family members in the Holocaust. Some bought the book he wrote about it. The rest of the day We enjoyed a great Shabbat dinner, followed by a relaxing evening. Tomorrow we should have a sunny day for our last day in Jerusalem.