DAY 10 – TUESDAY – OCTOBER 15

IMG_1715The sun brilliantly greeted us once again as it rose over the Mt. of Olives.  Following breakfast, we drove to the Mt. Zion area since our plans to ascend to the Temple Mount were canceled because of some Muslim holiday.  So instead, we visited the traditional locations of the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb.  Also on Mt Zion is a Christian cemetery where Oscar Schindler is buried.  We each placed a stone on his grave.  From here we could see down to the deepest part of the Hinnom Valley and the Field of Alcadema (Acts 1) where Judas took his own life.  Nearby and also on Mt. Zion is Peter Galucantu or the “Church of the Crowing.”  This is the traditional location of the House of Caiaphas (the High Priest who bound Jesus on the night he was betrayed by Judas) and the courtyard where Peter denied Jesus three times.  We read Psalm 88 in the “pit” (e.g cistern) here.  A 2nd temple street also runs by this site.

IMG_1751At 10 a.m., we enjoyed a tour of the Garden Tomb.  This is the alternative site for the place of crucifixion and burial & resurrection of Jesus.  Following the tour of the site, we had a Communion service. It was a special time to consider Christ’s ultimate sacrifice for us and also the victory over death accomplished for us through His resurrection.

After lunch at Ramat Rachel (a kibbutz overlooking Bethlehem), we spent the entire afternoon at the City of David and southern wall excavations.  At the City of David, we saw the primary excavations on the eastern slope as well a a portion of David’s palace.  We walked through “Warren’s Shaft” (and saw the 52 foot shaft).  Getting close to the Kidron Valley, we saw the brand new excavations of the tower that protected the ancient Gihon Spring.  This new walk-way provided a wonderful view of this massive stone structure.  After this, some walked through Hezekiah’s Tunnel (still flowing with knee-deep water), while others enjoyed the earlier Canaanite tunnel (a dry tunnel).  Both lead to the Siloam Pool where we read from John 9.

IMG_1786From here we walked back up to the SW corner of the Temple Mount through the Herodian “drainage” channel located beneath the Herodian street above.  Taking 30 minutes to walk 600 meters, we ascended at Robinson’s Arch, once an entry way for priests into the Temple.  We saw stones toppled over by the Romans in 70 AD, as well as the same Roman street used in Jesus’ day.  To end this tour of the area, we walked east to the Temple steps.  Here we recalled the many stories from the Gospels about Jesus’ ministry in the Temple.  It as also probably here where Peter preached his Pentecost message, with 3,000 becoming believers!

IMG_1794We went back to the hotel for dinner.  An optional taxi up to the Mt. of Olives and walk back to the hotel was enjoyed as well.  We look forward to our “free day” in the Old City tomorrow.

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY – OCTOBER 16

This will be a free day in the Old City of Jerusalem!  We then fly home at 11:30 p.m. from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia.

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