The Old City of Jerusalem

There is something special about the Old City of Jerusalem!  Each of our Israel trips end here (not begin here, as some tours do). It is the highlight in many ways for most people.

Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City and Temple Mount of Jerusalem

While the Old City walls don’t date back to biblical times (they were built in 1537-44 AD by the Ottoman Suleiman the Great), everywhere you walk in Jerusalem you can literally touch the Bible!  This includes many sites within and around the Old City. Whether it is something from the Old Testament or New Testament, Jerusalem provides numerous experiences where the Bible comes alive!

I just produced two videos that capture the best of the Old City. The first video is a short 2.5 minute video taken from the top of the tower of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. The view from the tower provides a 360 degree perspective of the Old City below.

Holy Sepulcher Church Jerusalem

The dome and cross of the Holy Sepulcher Church

The second video provides an opportunity to walk through each of the four “quarters” (or sections) of the Old City with me. It is about a 20 minute video.

To see all our videos, go HERE (our video page) or simply download our “Biblical Israel Ministries & Tours” App on your smart phone or tablet and view them there.

I hope you enjoy both videos.

 

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The 2,000 Year-Old Street in Jerusalem

lot of ancient ruins have been uncovered in Jerusalem. Specifically, much has been found relating to the world of Herodian Jerusalem, or in other words, Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. This is one of the reasons why seeing and experiencing Jerusalem first hand is so very exciting!

Drainage channel Jerusalem

The drainage channel that runs under the Herodian street above.

On each and every tour I lead, people always have the option to walk up through what is now called the drainage channelThis is located under the street where the man is standing in the video below. I just took my June 2017 group through this channel, enabling us to see the bottom of the Herodian pavement above us. It is quite remarkable!

Jerusalem drainage channel

What the Herodian street probably looked like, with the drainage channel below

While the video below is in Hebrew, it is sub-titled in English. It displays the newest excavations taking place in the City of DavidThis excavation is taking place 12 months a year and what is being revealed  is quite stunning!  The aggressiveness of the approach to uncover was much as possible is amazing to see and witness first hand. Each time we go here, something new is unearthed!

Watch the video below.

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 12 Summary

DAY 12 – FRIDAY, JUNE 23:

Temple steps

Steps on the southern end of the Temple in Jerusalem

Today was our last day here in Israel, and it was a good one. It was also the last day of Ramadan which made the Old City a bit crowded in places. The weather was perfect once again full sun, with highs around 80.

We started the day at the Southern Wall Excavations of the 2nd Temple. We saw many things Jesus would have seen and used, including the Roman street, the pinnacle of the Temple (where He was tempted), and the massive stones. On the southern steps of the Temple we recalled the stories from the Gospels of people who used these steps to enter the Temple (Mark 12, 13; Luke 2, 18; John 10; Acts 3, & 5). It was probably in this area of the Temple that the story involving Peter and Pentecost took place as well (Acts 2).

Hezekiah's Tunnel

The “meeting point” in Hezekiah’s Tunnel

From here we walked south a short distance to the City of David. We first enjoyed a 15 minutes video about some of stories form the Old Testament that took place here. This included the capturing of Jesus by David (2 Samuel 5), the Assyrian siege of the city during the days of Hezekiah (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chronicles 32, Isaiah 36-37), and the Babylonian destruction of the city in 586 BC (2 Chronicles 36).

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

Walking through the excavations here (including “Warren’s Shaft”), we came to the water source of the city, the Gihon Spring. This is where Hezekiah’s Tunnel begins. Many in the group walked in water through this 1,720 foot tunnel while others took the “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Pool of Siloam where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion. From here, some even walked up the Herodian drainage channel back to the SW corner of the Temple.

After a few hours for lunch, shopping, and exploring the city, we walked through the Muslim Quarter and out the Damascus Gate to the Garden Tomb. This site is an alternative site for the crucifixion and burial location of Jesus. Here we enjoyed a time of worship and Communion. It was a great way to end the tour.

Pray for the peace of JerusalemFrom here we drove towards the airport for our night-flight home. We stopped on the way for our farewell dinner. The time was special allowing us to recall all the life-changing experiences we had over the last 11 days here in Israel.

We then drove to the airport and at present we are waiting our night-flight home (departure is about midnight)

DAY 13 – SATURDAY, JUNE 24: FLIGHT HOME
We arrive back in the U.S.A. today.

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 11 Summary

DAY 11 – THURSDAY, JUNE 22: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM

Master Course

The “Master Course” – part of the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount. It weighs a few hundred tons!

This morning we left at 7:30 again. The weather was about the same as yesterday, with sun and comfortable temps in the low 80s. Leaving the hotel we read from Mark 13:1-2 about the “massive stones” that amazed the disciples. Our first site was the Western Wall, a retaining wall containing these stones form the time of Jesus. This

The Western Wall is the most holy place for Jews today because if its proximity to where both the 1st and 2nd Temples once stood. What we did was walk parallel along this wall in what is called the Rabbinical Tunnels. Like the disciples of Jesus, we too were amazed at seeing these stones. One of these (the “Master Course”) weighs a few hundred tons.

Jerusalem Model

The 1:50 scale Jerusalem Model at the Israel Museum

Walking up to the Jewish Quarter, we visited the Temple Institute. This is run by a sect of Jews who are anticipating the building of the 3rd Temple. All the Temple furnishings have been prepared. Nearby we visit Shorashim, a store that is designed to connect people to the Bible. Moshe, one of the brothers who owns the shop, shared with us about his Jewish faith. It was quite interesting.

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum & Memorial

Following lunch we walked out of the Zion’s Gate to meet our bus. We drove to the Israel Museum. Here we saw a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem the way it looked in 70 AD. It is based on archaeology, the Mishnah, Talmud, and Josephus. We focused upon the many things that connected us to the Gospels and Acts. Specifically we saw what the Temple looked like in Jesus’ day. Also, we walked through the Shrine of the Book to see some of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Additionally, we walked to the archeological wing of the museum. Here we saw some of the highlights of items found in excavations. This included things like the Arad high place, Asherah figurines, the Moses Seat, the Pilate Inscription, and Herod’s sarcophagus.

Vilna Poland Holocaust

Shlomo sharing at Nad Vashem. He lost 12 family members in Vilna, Poland during the Holocaust.

We ended the day at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial. We walked through the Valley of the Communities, the Children’s Memorial, and the museum itself. We also heard Shlomo share about losing 12 family members in Vilna, Poland.

We returned to the hotel for dinner and a free evening. We have one more day here in Jerusalem.

DAY 12 – FRIDAY, JUNE 23: GARDEN TOMB, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SILOAM POOL, SOUTHERN EXCAVATIONS, FREE AFTERNOON, NIGHT FLIGHT HOME

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 10 Summary

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21:

Jerusalem

Overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem

Today was our first full day in Jerusalem. The weather was sunny but with much cooler temps, with highs around 80. Leaving our hotel around 7:30 again, we drove to the Mt. of Olives. We drove around the western and northern parts of the Old City, and across the Kidron Valley to Gert there. The view from the top was spectacular, providing us a panoramic view of the City of David (to the south), the Old City, and the Temple Mount. Walking down to Palm Sunday path to Dominus Flevit (“the Lord weeps”), we read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about Jesus’ kingship and 2nd Coming. Further down the slope we enjoyed a reflective time in the Garden of Gethsemane in a private garden. We read from Luke 22 and considered the passion of Jesus. Brother Diego warmly greeted us.

Walking into the Old City through the Lion’s Gate (also called St. Stephen’s and Jericho Gate), we visited the Pool of Bethesda (John 5). On the same grounds is St. Anne’s Church. We enjoyed singing in this Crusader church that has an eight second echo. We sounded like a grand choir!

Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane

Walking through the Old City we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This is the traditional location for both the crucifixion and burial of Christ. Going inside we saw a classic “2nd Temple” (New Testament era) niche tomb.

After lunch in the Christian Quarter, we walked out of the Old City through Jaffa Gate where our bus picked us up. We drove about 8 miles southeast to Herodium. This was another of Herod the Great’s “palace-fortresses.” This was also where Herod was buried. We climbed this “artificial” mound and saw the ruins. The view in all directions was very good as well. We could even see the Dead Sea from here. Descending through the cistern system, we saw some frescos as well as the place of Herod’s grave.

Herodium

Herodium

Close by are the Shepherds’ Fields. Descending into a cave, we considered God’s redemptive plan in that “just at the right time God sent His Son (Galatians 4:4).” We sang some Christmas carols both in the cave as well as in the small chapel. The gals who sang sounded angelic!

We ended the day by visiting an olive wood factory and store owned by Arab Christians. Bethlehem is known for the production of olive wood products.

We drove back to our hotel for dinner. An optional walk to Ben Yehuda for a taste of more modern Israeli life followed.

DAY 11 – THURSDAY, JUNE 22: OLD CITY, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 9 Summary

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JUNE 20:

Beth Shean

Beth Shean’s Roman City

This morning we left the Galilee area and headed south. Leaving about 7:30 on what would be another sunny and hot day (90s), we drove to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee to the Kinneret Cemetery. Here a famous Jewish pioneer is buried. Her name was Rachel. She was an Ukrainian Jew who immigrated here in the early 1900s. She wrote many poems that are still read and sung today. She was born in 1890 and died in 1931.

Driving south in the Jordan Valley, our next stop was Beth Shean. While this was both an Old Testament site mentioned in 1 Samuel 31 (where Saul’s body was hung on the walls), it was a huge Roman city. Here we saw the Cards, bathhouses, many mosaics, the agora, many pillars, a public latrine, and the theater. It was perhaps a city similar to this where the prodigal son ran to (Luke 15). Some in the group climbed to the top of the OT tel for a panoramic view of the area below.

Shepherds

Shepherding in the Hill Country of Samaria

Leaving Beth Shean, our route took us through the heart of the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria. Abraham came through this region a few times. So did Jacob. Jesus even did at least once as he confronted the Samaritan woman (John 4). We saw many shepherds along the way.

We eventually arrived at Shiloh. It was here where the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant resided for 369 years. Samuel grew up here as well. It was here where Samuel heard the voice of God calling to him in the night. We read from 1 Samuel 3 as well as Jeremiah 7. Among the ruins we saw an olive press as well as the probably located for the Tabernacle.

The walls of Jericho

The Canaanite retaining walls of Jericho

Driving past Bethel (Genesis 15, 28), and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14), we drove through the rugged Desert of Parath (Jeremiah 13) and the Judean Desert. Following lunch here, we climbed the tel of Jericho. We first looked east across the Jordan River (Joshua 2, 2 Kings 2, John 1). We then looked south to New Testament Jericho (Luke 10, Mark 10). Among the ruins here, in addition to seeing the oldest tower ever found, we walked to the southern end of the site to see the stone retaining walls that supported the mud-brick walls that “came tumblin’ down” according to the Joshua 6 story. We celebrated the historicity of the Bible.

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt (Judean Desert)

On our way to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt (the main part of the Judea Desert). Here we heard the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23 within the context of this unique region of the Bible.

Continuing to Jerusalem, we checked into our hotel. Following dinner we enjoyed an orientation walk to the Western Wall. We are looking forward to three full days here in Jerusalem!

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21: JERUSALEM, MT. OF OLIVES, OLD CITY, BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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Jerusalem – The City of Gold

Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital. Since the days of David 3,000 years ago it has been Israel’s capital. 1000 years before David a man named Abraham took his son Isaac here (specifically to Mt. Moriah). It is a special city like none other. Because of the city’s uniqueness and rich history, there are no words that can describe Jerusalem. However, one particular song comes close!

Jerusalem city of gold

Jerusalem – the City of Gold

Jerusalem of Gold is a classic song that portrays in every way the specialness of Jerusalem. A rendition of this song was just performed and shown on the Israel Video Network. Performed by the Portnoy brothers, the song was written by Naomi Shemer in May of 1967. Raphael Israeli states, “At that time, the Old City was still controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and under its sovereignty rule. Jews had been banned from the Old City and the rest of Jerusalem east of it, losing their homes and possessions and becoming refugees. All Jews were barred from either returning or entering the areas under Jordanian control, and many holy sites were desecrated and damaged during that period” (Introduction: Everyday Life in Divided Jerusalem”. Jerusalem Divided: The Armistice Regime, 1947–1967, 2002). Thus original song described the Jewish people’s 2,000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. A final verse was added after the Six-Day War to celebrate Jerusalem’s re-unification.

South wall excavations in JerusalemThe song is really a love song about Jerusalem. The song actually captures the essence of Psalm 137 when the Judeans in Exile in Babylon yearned for the day to return to Jerusalem – “If I forget Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do  not consider Jerusalem my highest joy (Psalm 137:5-6).”

The video itself features a number of various places in and throughout Jerusalem.Here is the video. Below are also the English words of this moving song!

 

Translation of Jerusalem of Gold:

Verse 1
The mountain air is clear as water
The scent of pines around
Is carried on the breeze of twilight,
And tinkling bells resound.

The trees and stones there softly slumber,
A dream enfolds them all.
So solitary lies the city,
And at its heart — a wall.

Chorus:
Oh, Jerusalem of gold,
and of light and of bronze,
I am the lute for all your songs.
x2

Verse 2
The wells are filled again with water,
The square with joyous crowd,
On the Temple Mount within the City,
The shofar rings out loud.

Within the caverns in the mountains
A thousand suns will glow,
We’ll take the Dead Sea road together,
That runs through Jericho.

Chorus:
Oh, Jerusalem of gold,
and of light and of bronze,
I am the lute for all your songs.
x2

Verse 3
But as I sing to you, my city,
And you with crowns adorn,
I am the least of all your children,
Of all the poets born.

Your name will scorch my lips for ever,
Like a seraph’s kiss, I’m told,
If I forget thee, golden city,
Jerusalem of gold.

Chorus:
Oh, Jerusalem of gold,
and of light and of bronze,
I am the lute for all your songs.

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Jerusalem IS Israel’s Biblical Capital!

Jerusalem Embassy

The plot of land in Jerusalem designated for years now for the future US Embassy

The present discussion whether Jerusalem should be defined as “Israel’s capital” has been quite captivating. However to be perfectly honest, this discussion has also been quite disappointing, to say the least. Although one cannot escape this being at least in part a political issue, to me it primarily an historical issue and ultimately is a biblical one.

Now I usually try and stay away of political issues in my blogs and in social media. However, at least some political observations must be made here. Thus, within politically circles, I must confess that I continually am appalled (but of course not surprised like most of you I suspect) by anti-Semitic world organizations such as United Nations, Unesco, the Arab League of Nations, etc… who do not consider Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The outright hatred and scorn against the tiny State of Israel trumps (no pun intended) everything else. At the same time and to be perfectly honest (and this may upset some of you), I am equally very troubled to hear our present US Administration disclose their intentions to not move the US Embassy to Israel’s capital of Jerusalem. I hope I am wrong on this observation, but for now it appears that no move is imminent.

US Embassy Israel

The US Embassy is presently in Tel Aviv

Listening to primary sources these last few days about not moving the Embassy to Jerusalem signals not only a huge broken promise to the US voter this past November, but it also serves as a slap in the face of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East. Of about 210 world countries where the United States recognize without hesitation their declared capital, Israel is the only country whose capital is not recognized as legitimate. Simply, to not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (where, by the way, the Kinesset, the Prime Minister’s office, and all the Israeli government buildings are located) is a big-time betrayal in every respect. Today, the United States only have their consulates (two of them, one in west Jerusalem and the other in east Jerusalem) in Israel’s capital. The Embassy is in Tel Aviv. We pass it on each and every tour I lead.

This means at this point of Trump’s presidency, it appears as if nothing has changed in decades. Every recent president has made endless campaign promises to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, but have always fallen short of acting upon the promise. So once again, the tragic and a-historic statement that “no state has sovereignty over Jerusalem” wins the day. Such a statement is based on false historical assumptions (e.g. namely about the historicity of the so-called Palestinian people and the even bigger myth that Israel occupies and even settles land that is not theirs). This is so very disappointing to me. But in today’s world, truth just doesn’t matter any more. Only fiction and false narratives/news does. Tragic!

In a recent Conservative Review article (by Jordan Schachtel, May 17, 2017), it was said that “by proclaiming that ‘no state has sovereignty’ over Jerusalem, the Trump administration finds itself in a position that is wholly rejected by a bipartisan consensus of congressional leaders.” Schachtel writes, “The Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was originally passed in 1995 by an almost unanimous consensus in Congress, calls for the United States to move its embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.” Even more appalling was the statement made by certain congressional leaders refer to the Western Wall of the 2nd Temple (the most holy place for Jews today) as not being part of Israel. What? Even the spokesperson for the White House yesterday fell short of recognizing the Western Wall as “part of Israel.” Really? Respectfully, but are you kidding me?  At least I hold out hope that when the President himself plans to visit the Western Wall on May 22, that he declares loud and clear something different.

South wall excavations in Jerusalem

The Southern Excavations of the Temple in Jerusalem

But let’s change direction and talk about the historical and the biblical issues. The historical roots of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel goes back 3,000 years. It goes back to the days of King David when he captured the city from the Jebusites (2 Samuel 5). Jerusalem would become such an important part of “biblical Israel” that it is even mentioned slightly over 800 times in the Bible. Parenthetically, I must also say that Jerusalem is not even mentioned once in the Koran. From ancient times, Jerusalem has always been Israel’s capital city. Yet in today’s environment it is seemingly wrong to bring up anything that is anchored in the historical, let alone the biblical. Yet the truth of Scripture clearly states that Jerusalem was the Jewish capital until 70 AD when the Romans destroyed it.

Yet I suppose part of the acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is connected with how one views what happened in 1948. It was in May of 1948 that Israel became a Jewish State, with David Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister. While it was only a small portion, relatively speaking, of the historic land given to modern Israel (“biblical Israel” consisted of lands in Judea, Samaria, and even on the east side o the Jordan River according to the land given by God to the 12 Tribes), the Jewish State now has land they could call their own!  Even though the United Nations trimmed dramatically from the League of Nations declaration in 1920 the amount of land Israel should have, Israel at least had some land.

The ISraeli flag

The Israeli flag

Was 1948 the fulfillment of biblical prophecy? I personally believe that 1948 revealed the beginning stages of the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan for not only His people, our Jewish friends. Like clay in the potter’s hand, God is shaping and molding ethnic Israel in the last days for His glory and honor. Yet even more exciting, God is also shaping the world for a redemptive purpose as well. There is coming a day when the whole world will gather in Jerusalem and recognize the coming of God’s redemption (Zechariah 14). In fact, this will come about when the Messiah stands on the Mt. of Olives. We, of course, believe that this Messiah will be none other than Jesus when He returns.  But it will be Jerusalem where this all unfolds for the world to see! How glorious!

In the meantime, we are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).” I also believe we should pray for boldness for world leaders (including our very own president) to recognize the historic and biblical roots of Jerusalem for the Jewish people.

Pray for the peace of JerusalemPolitically, I do hope and pray that not only the US Embassy, but the embassies of many other countries move to Jerusalem. I am thankful for those in leadership positions on both sides of the aisle who boldly support Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be much more than symbolic. Specifically, such a move would be in recognition of the historical and biblical roots of our Jewish friends! It would recognize Israel’s biblical right to exist!

 

 

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 10

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 3:

Today was our last day here in Jerusalem. We started the day by reading from Psalm 137 as we drove to the City of David excavations. The day would be another perfect day, with sun and temps around 80.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

At the “meeting point” in Hezekiah’s Tunnel, City of David, Jerusalem

Arriving at the City of David about 8 a.m., we first ascended the observation tower, viewing the city from various directions. To the north we saw the Temple Mount and the excavations of the Ophel. To the east is the Mt. of Olives. To the west is what is called Mt. Zion today. And to the south are the excavations of the City of David. We could see part of David’s palace and Israelite ruins.

Pool of Siloam

The Pool of Siloam (John 9)

After watching a 3-D movie about the history of OT Jerusalem, we walked down through the excavations. We read from 2 Samuel 5 (David conquering the city from the Jebusites). We also recalled the story of King Hezekiah, the Assyrian siege on the city in 701 BC, and the carving of the water tunnel (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, and Isaiah 36-37).

Continuing through Warren’s Shaft (what was once believed to be the “water shaft” Joab climbed in order to take the Jebusite city), we arrived at the Gihon Spring. This still flows today from ancient times. Part of the group walked through the 1,720 foot Hezekiah’s Tunnel, while others took the Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we read John 9 in dramatic fashion!

Herodian Street

Herodian Street at the SW corner of the Temple Mount

We ended the morning at the southern wall excavations of the 2nd Temple. Some in the group walked up to this SW corner of the Temple through the Herodian drainage channel. Up at this SW corner, we saw the massive stones toppled down by the Romans in 70 AD. They are still resting on the Herodian street that Jesus must have walked on! At the southern end of the temple are the temple steps. Sitting on these steps we recalled how many people used these steps to enter the Temple in the Gospels, including Jesus Himself (Luke 2 & 18, Mark 13, John 6, Acts 2 & 4, etc…).

Walking up to the Jewish Quarter, we enjoyed a talk with Moshe, owner of Shorashim and an Orthodox Jew who talked about his faith.

The Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

We also enjoyed a time for lunch, shopping, exploring, and people-watching. At 3:15 we walked out of the Zion’s Gate and bussed to the Garden Tomb. Here we had a tour of the place, including the suggested tomb used by Jesus. Following the tour, we shared worship and Communion together.

Returning to our hotel to freshen up, we drove to the Olives & Fish restaurant for our farewell “last supper” dinner. Following dinner, those flying home later tonight were driven to the airport, while those going to Sinai & Egypt tomorrow walked back to the hotel.

It was a wonderful Israel trip!

DAY 11 – THURSDAY, MAY 4: ARRIVE HOME OR DRIVE TO SINAI DESERT IN EGYPT.

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 9

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, MAY 2:

Today we left around 7:30 a.m. once again after another great breakfast. The day would be gorgeous, with lots of sun, a few clouds, and temps around 80 again.

Mt. of Olives

Standing on the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem

Leaving the hotel, we read from Psalm 125 (“As the mountains surround Jerusalem”), we drove around part of the Old City to the top of the Mt. of Olives. Here we enjoyed a breath-taking view of the Temple Mount and Old City below. This included being able to see the City of David (OT Jerusalem), Mt. Zion, and Mt. Moriah (both Solomon built the 1st Temple, 2 Chronicles 3). Today the Dome of the Rock (691-2 AD) stands on the Temple Mount. We read from Luke 19 (about Jesus’ Palm Sunday entrance and His weeping over Jerusalem), and Zechariah 14 (about His 2nd coming).

Walking further down the Mt. of Olives, we had special entrance into a private area of the Garden of Gethsemane. Here we read from Luke 22 and spent time in quiet reflection as we considered the passion of Jesus. Father Diego greeted us and shared some thoughtful words with us.

Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane

Walking into the Old City through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called the Lions and Jericho Gate), we visited the Pool of Bethesda. We read from John 5. On the same grounds is St. Anne’s Church. We enjoyed singing in this Crusader Church. The acoustics in the church were fantastic!

Walking along the Via Dolorosa, we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was built in 325 AD. We took a quick peak inside before lunch in the Christian Quarter.

Edicule

The Edicule inside the Holy Sepulcher Church in Jerusalem

Walking out of the Jaffa Gate we met our bus and drove to Herodium. Located only a few miles east of Bethlehem, this was one of Herod’s palace-fortresses.” We climbed this “artificial” mountain and saw a great view of Jerusalem to the north, Bethlehem to the west, Tekoa to the south, and the Judean Desert to the east.

From here we drove to the Shepherds’ Fields. Entering a cave, we celebrated the role of the shepherds and the humble birth of Jesus. We considered the words of Paul, “For just at the right time, God sent His Son…” (Galatians 4:4). We also enjoyed singing a few carols, both in the cave and in the Shepherds’ Chapel. A Polish and Argentina group joined us in the singing of Silent Night.

Western Wall

The Western Wall at night!

We ended the day in Bethlehem. We visited an olive wood shop and store owned by Palestinian Christians living here. Here we also celebrated David’s (our bus driver) birthday with a cake and candle.

We drove back to the hotel for dinner, followed by an optional walk to the Western Wall.

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 3: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, FREE AFTERNOON, GARDEN TOMB

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