September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 10

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12:

We spent the entire day in Jerusalem. It was another sunny day, with highs unusually in the mid 90s.

Rabbinical tunnel

Western Wall Tunnel

Leaving shortly after 7:30 again after another great buffet breakfast (and opening the day with Mark 13:1-2), we drove back to the Western Wall. It was interesting to see the many ultra Orthodox Jews praying under the canopy of their tallits (prayer shawls). Here we entered the Western Wall Tunnel (also called the Rabbinical Tunnels). After a brief explanation of the Temple Mount expanded by Herod the Great in 20 BC, we walked parallel to this western retaining wall of the Temple. We walked north about 300 yards. Along the way we saw many fascinating things, including huge Herodian stones (one called the Master Course that weighs hundreds of tons). It was quite fascinating!

Exiting the tunnel in the Muslim Quarter, we walked back to the Jewish Quarter. Here, we enjoyed listening to an Orthodox Jew named Moshe. He and his brother own a shop called Shorashim. Moshe talked about his Jewish thought and practice. It was quite enlightening to hear him share.

Yad Vashem

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum & Memorial

After eating lunch here in the Jewish Quarter, we walked out of the Old City through the Zion’s Gate. Meeting David and the bus here, we drove to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust. Museum & Memorial. First, we walked through the Valley of the Communities. We then listened to Shlomo’s own personal family story before walking through the Children’s Memorial and the museum itself. We also saw trees dedicated to “Righteous Gentiles” such as Oscar Schindler, Corrie ten Boom, and others It was a sober experience here knowing that 6 million Jews died at the hands of the Nazi regime during WWII.

Jerusalem Model

The 1:50 scale Model of Jerusalem (70 AD)

Our last stop was the Israel Museum. Here we walked around a 1:50 model of Jerusalem as it looked like in 70 AD. We made a lot of connections with the life and ministry of Jesus in and around the Temple. Next, we walked through the Shrine of the Book dedicated for the display of some of the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found at Qumran. Lastly, we saw the highlights of artifacts in the archaeological wing of the museum. We saw the Dan & Pilate inscriptions, the high place of Arad, the place of trumpeting inscription found at the SW corner of the Temple, and Herod’s sarcophagus, among many others.

City of David

The Sound and Light Show at City of David, Jerusalem

We returned to the hotel for dinner, followers by a special excursion to the City of David to see the brand-new sound & light show. It was excellent!

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13: GEZER, BETH SHEMESH, QEIYAFA/ELAH VALLEY, BEIT GURVRIN, LACHISH, BEERSHEBA

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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 8

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10:

Today would be another sunny day, with highs in the 90s (a bit above normal for Jerusalem this time of year). Pulling out of the hotel once again shortly after 7:30, we drove to the excavations of the City of David.

City of David

The City of David

The City of David was previously called Jebus. According to the Bible, David conquered the city (2 Sam. 5). We saw many of the ruins here (walls towers, David’s fortress) dating to biblical times. Walking through Warren’s Shaft we came to the water source of there city, the Gihon Spring. Here is also where some in the group entered Hezekiah’s Tunnel, a 1,720 foot water tunnel carved out of the bedrock. Some in the group walked through the earlier “dry” Canaanite tunnel. Both groups converged at the Siloam Pool where we heard John 9 read in dramatic fashion. Here we celebrated that Jesus continues to open our eyes and hearts, allowing us to see Him.

From here some in the group walked up the Herodian drainage channel up to the south wall excavations of Herod’s Temple, while others took the bus up to this area. Meeting at the SW corner of the Temple, we stood amazed at the remarkable building project of Herod’s temple. Even the disciples made this comment (Mark 13:1-2). Finally, we walked to the southern steps of the Temple, the primary way for commoners to enter the Temple in Jesus’ day. We remembered the stories of many who would have used there steps (Jesus, disciples, Simeon, Peter, Paul, and the apostles, etc…). Before leaving this area, we also entered the Western Wall area.

HEzekiah's tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

This afternoon we drove south to the area of Bethlehem. First, we enjoyed lunch outside the Shepherds’ Fields before descending down into a cave. Here we considered the role of the shepherds in Jesus’ day and the amazement of God’s redemptive plan! It was “just at the right time that God sent His Son. (Gal. 4:4).” We enjoyed singing a few Christmas carols in the cave as well as in the small chapel.

Further east is Herodium. This was where Herod the Great was buried. The view from the top of this “palace-fortress” was good. We could see Jerusalem to the north, the Dead Sea and Judea Desert to the east, and Bethlehem to the west. We left the site by descending down through the cistern system. We also saw where Herod was buried.

Herodium

Herodium

Our last stop of the day was an olive wood factory and store in Bethlehem. We joined not only seeing how the olive wood items are made, but also some shopping here.

We drove back to the hotel for our farewell dinner. Nearly half in the group are flying home tonight back to the States. Shlomo and David drove these folks to the Ben Gurion Airport for their night-flight home. The other half of the group will enjoy a four more days here in Israel.

DAY 9 – MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11: ARRIVAL BACK IN THE U.S.A OR BEGINNING OF THE OPTIONAL EXTENSION – SHILOH AND HIKE IN WADI QELT/JUDEAN DESERT

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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 7

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9:

Temple Mount Old City of Jerusalem

Standing on the Mt. of Olives, with the Old City and Temple Mount in the background

Today was our first full day in Jerusalem, and it was a great one! The weather was a bit cooler (Jerusalem is about 2,800 feet above sea level) than yesterday, with full sun and highs in the high 80s.

Leaving at 7:40 after another great breakfast, we drove around the Old City of Jerusalem to the top of the Mt. Of Olives. The view of the Old City and Temple Mount (and even the City of David to the south) from here is spectacular! We read from Luke 19 and Zechariah 14 about Christ’s Palm Sunday story (proclaimed King) and about His second coming (when he will be proclaimed King once again). At a chapel called Dominus Flavet, we remembered how Jesus wept over Jerusalem. We walked down the Mt of Olives to the area of the Garden of Gethsemane. Here we read from Luke 22 about Jesus passion and his betrayal. We enjoyed some time of silence and reflection here.

Eastern or Golden Gate

The Eastern Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem

Walking towards the Old City, we saw the sealed Golden Gate (Eastern Gate, Ezekiel 44). We then entered the city through the St. Stephen’s Gate (also called the Lion’s Gate & Jericho Gate) and walked to the Pools of Bethesda & St. Anne’s Church (a Crusader church). We saw the ruins of this ancient pool mentioned in John 5. We also enjoyed some great singing inside the church. The 8 second echo was amazing!

From here we walked on the traditional Via Dolorosa (“way of the cross”) to the Holy Sepulcher Church. This was a church first built in 325 AD. It preserves the traditional location for both the crucifixion and burial area of Jesus. Today, six primary denominations use this ancient church.

Tomb of Jesus

The traditional tomb of Jesus within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

For the next two hours we enjoyed lunch and some free time for shopping and exploring the Old City on our own.

We ended the day at the Garden Tomb, discovered in the end of the 19th century as a Protestant alternative site for the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. After seeing the tomb, we enjoyed a wonderful time of worship and Communion together. We read from John 19 & 20 and celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus!

Garden Tomb

The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem

David picked us up at 4:15 and we drove back to the hotel. We enjoyed some leisurely time before our 6:30 dinner. Following dinner, many in the group enjoyed an optional walk to Ben Yehuda Street for a little taste of modern Israeli life and culture. A number bought shofars (ram’s horns)! We walked back to the hotel, stopping briefly to see the rolling stone of King Herod’s family tomb located nearby the King David hotel.

It was a great first day here in Israel’s capital!

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SILOAM POOL, DRAINAGE TUNNEL, SOUTHERN STEPS, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8:

Capernaum synagogue

Standing in the 5th century AD synagogue at Capernaum

Today we checked out of the hotel and loaded up the bus. The day would once again by sunny, with highs over 100 at Jericho and the Dead Sea.

Before leaving the Galilee area, we visited Capernaum (the “Village of Nahum”). This town served as the “ministry base” for Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Sitting in the 4-5th century synagogue, we read many of the stories that took place here (Mark 1, 9; Luke 7; John 6). It was here where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew, the tax collector). Besides seeing the 4-5th century church also built here, we enjoyed a quiet time by the shoreline.

Beth Shean

The Roman city of Beth Shean

Driving to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee, we made a brief stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. This is where some of the early pioneers of Israel are buried, including a certain Rachel. She was a Ukrainian Jew who died of TB here in 1931. She is still known for her poetry.

Traveling south in the Jordan Valley, we came to Beth Shean. This is one of the most extensive archaeological sites in all of Israel. Here we saw the Roman city, complete with a bathhouse, a theater, colonnaded streets, and even a public latrine. The tall tel (ancient mound) preserves the story of 1 Samuel 31 (Saul’s body was hung on the walls of this OT city). Some in the group climbed to the top.

Jericho walls

The Walls of Jericho

After lunch nearby, we continued driving south to Jericho. Climbing the tel, we saw the ruins dating to the time of Joshua. This included the very retaining walls on top of which was the mud brick wall that came “tumblin’ down” according to the story of Joshua 6. Also among the ruins is the oldest tower in Israel, predating even the Canaanites.

Close by is the Dead Sea. Here we enjoyed a time of floating in this unique body of water (33% salt and minerals). It was a very unique experience!

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt in the heart of the Judean Desert

From here we drove to Jerusalem, literally ascending nearly 4,000 feet. On the way, we made one last brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt (part of the Judea Desert). Here “Isaiah” showed up and shared the comforting words of Isaiah 40. Shlomo also shared the Hebrew version of the song of Psalm 23.

Arriving at our hotel in Jerusalem, we enjoyed dinner, followed by an orientation walk to the Western Wall, the most holy place for Jews today. It was amazing to walk through this ancient city.

DAY 7 – SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9: JERUSALEM, OLD CITY, GARDEN TOMB

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Hezekiah’s Tunnel Explained

One of the most exciting “adventures” to experience in Jerusalem is to walk through what is known as Hezekiah’s Tunnel. It is also called the Siloah Tunnel

Hezekiah's Tunnel

A cut-away of the City of David revealing the path of Hezekiah’s Tunnel

In a few places, the Bible mentions about the chiseling of this tunnel (2 Kings 19-20, 2 Chr. 32, Isaiah 36-37). In the wider context, in 705 King Sennacherib from Assyria took reign. In preparation for his southern advance, Hezekiah carved out of the bedrock a 1,720 foot tunnel. The purpose for doing so was to allow the waters from the Gihon Spring (the source of water for the City of David) to flow south to the inside part of the city. So with two team of rock cutters starting at opposite ends, the tunnel was carved.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel in the City of David. The tunnel is 1,720 feet long and was built at the end of the 8th century BC.

We even have an inscription (the Siloam Inscription) that tells us how it was precisely done. This inscription was discovered in 1880 and still today is housed on display in the Istanbul Museum. It describes how the the two teams of rock cutters met in the middle of the tunnel. They literally heard each other’s picks and axes until they broke through. Amazing!

The video below is yet another one that features Dr. Ronnie Reich. He is an Israeli archaeologist who excavated over 10 years at the City of David. He shares some interesting perspectives on the tunnel.

Also, a shorter video was produced by the City of David Foundation.

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The Conquering of Jerusalem … Another Theory

In the last blog (entitled David’s Conquering of Jerusalem), I offered a wonderful video on how David conquered Jebus, the Canaanite city later called Jerusalem. Archaeologists are continuing to discover how the city was taken by David back in the 10th century BC.

City of David or Jebus

A model of the City of David. It was called Jebus when David conquered it (2 Samuel 5)

The story of how it was conquered is mentioned in 2 Samuel 5. As I mentioned, the “old theory” was that Joab climbed up a vertical tunnel  (called Warren’s Shaft today). However, with new excavations over the last 10 years or so, this theory is no longer held. The “water shaft” used by Joab that day was probably another part of the Canaanite water system about 30 feet away.

So in this follow-up blog, I share with you another video. You will enjoy hearing Dr. Ronnie Reich, Israeli archaeologist, share his views about this water system.

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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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