DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29
Today was a sunny and comfortable day, with highs in the high 80s. We left the hotel around 7:25 and headed directly to the Western Wall. This wall served as the western retaining wall of the Temple that Herod the Great expanded in 20 BC. What we did is enter what is called the Western Wall Tunnel and walked parallel to this wall most of the entire distance (about 400 yards). The stones put into place were massive, with one (called the Master Course) weighing an approximate 400-500 tons. No wonder the disciples commented about the beauty of the Temple (Mark 13:1-2, Luke 21:5). Leaving the tunnel, we returned back to the Western Wall for an opportunity to go down to the Wall and pray.
Meeting our bus outside the Dung Gate, we drove to the Mt. of Olives for participating in Temple Sifting Project. What we did is “wet-sift” through buckets of debris that came from the Temple Mount. We found all kinds of pottery (even from the 1st Temple Period), mosaics, Roman glass, and other items from various archaeological periods. One even found a metal coin from the 2nd Temple Period! It was fun to participate.
This afternoon we drove to the Israel Museum. Following eating lunch here, we saw three things: The 1:50 model of 2nd Temple Jerusalem (seeing what Jerusalem looked like during the time of Jesus), the Shrine of the Book (some of the Dead Sea scrolls), and the archaeological wing of the museum itself (seeing things like the Dan inscription, the Moses’ Seat from Chorazim, the “to the place of trumpeting” from the SW corner of the Temple, and the Pilate Inscription from Caesarea, among many other things).
We end the day with a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum. We first heard Shlomo’s family story from Poland before walking through the Children’s Memorial and the museum itself. It was a moving and emotional encounter, being reminded of the level of evil in the world.
We return to our hotel in Jerusalem for dinner and am optional gathering with Gaby Barkay, one of Jerusalem’s leading archaeological scholar. Some also enjoyed a walk on the Promenade.
DAY 10 – THURSDAY, JUNE 30: CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, FREE AFTERNOON, GARDEN TOMB