DAY 8 – MONDAY, JANUARY 30:
Today was another sunny day, with highs in the low 50s. Leaving the hotel shortly after 7:30, our first destination was the Western Wall. This is the most holy place for our Jewish brothers and sisters. The wall actually served as a retaining wall used by Herod the Great to expand the Temple Mount. It was a building project that started in 20 BC. After going down to the wall for prayer, we walked through the Western Wall Tunnel (also called the “Rabbinical Tunnel”). We stood amazed at how large some of these stones were (the “Master Course” is nearly 600 tons). We remembered the words of the disciples who were similarly amazed at “such massive and beautiful stones…” (Mark 13, Luke 21).
Walking up to the Jewish Quarter, we visited the Burnt House. This was a house destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. A spear and the skeleton arm of a woman were found here.
Nearby we enjoyed a 40 minute conversation with Moshe, and Orthodox Jew. In his store (Shorashim), Moshe shared about his Jewish faith. It was quite interesting to listen to him share.
Walking out of the Zion’s Gate and meeting David and our bus outside the Old City, we drove to the Israel Museum. After lunch here, we saw three things. First, a 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem is displayed here. Connecting the dots with the events of Jesus’ life, the model provided a great image of what the city looked like in the days of the New Testament. Displayed in the model included such things like the Pool of Bethesda (John 5), Solomon’s Porch (John 10; Acts 3,5), Pool of Siloam (John 9), the Temple courts and steps, Herod’s palace (Luke 23), and the two suggested places for Christ’s crucifixion and burial. Next, we walked through the Shrine of the Book. This is where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are displayed. Lastly, we walked through the archaeological wing of the museum where we saw some of the artifact highlights (e.g. Dan & Pilate Inscriptions, The Hazor and Arad cultic center, Moses’ seat, ossuaries, and Herod’s sarcophagus.
We ended the day at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum & Memorial. We visited the Valley of the Communities, the Children’s memorial, and the museum. We also heard Shlomo’s family story (he lost 12 family members from Vilna, Poland).
We drove back to the hotel and enjoyed dinner and a free evening together.
DAY 9 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 31: GARDEN TOMB, CITY OF DAVID, HEZEKIAH’S TUNNEL, DRAINAGE CHANNEL, SOUTHERN WALL EXCAVATIONS, FREE AFTERNOON