DAY 9 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 18: WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, DAVID’S CITADEL/HEROD’S PALACE, HERODIAN HOUSE, SHORASHIM, ISRAEL MUSEUM
Today was another great day, with fascinating sites! The skies were brilliantly sunny with highs in the mid 80s.
Western Wall/Rabbinical Tunnel
Our first stop was to the Western Wall. We read Psalm 48 as we drove here after a hearty breakfast (one that included waffles!). The Western Wall is the most holy place for Jews because it served as one of the retaining walls of the 2nd Temple. Most in the group walked down to the Wall. From here we visited the Rabbinical Tunnels. We saw massive stones placed there so precisely! We also saw miqvot (ritual baths) and even a small theater (called an odeon).
David’s Citadel / Herod’s Palace
Walking up to the area of Jaffa Gate our next stop was a unique one. David’s Citadel (mis-labeled by the Crusaders, for it has nothing to do with David) as it is called today, was the location of King Herod’s palace. After entering the site, we had the unique privilege to see the relatively new excavations of this area. This is an area not seen my Shlomo nor Pastor John before! It was quite fascinating and moving that perhaps we were in the area of the stone pavement where Jesus was condemned to crucifixion! We read from John 19 here.
“For sure the most meaningful and touching visit today was to the palace of Herod. We got to see something that most groups never see, the place where Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion by Pilate. It’s been incredible about the places we’ve gone to on this trip!” -Tour Member-
Walking back down to the Jewish Quarter the visited the Herodian Mansion next. This was a series of 1st century Jewish homes. Today, modern buildings stand over them yet while preserving the ruins. Here we saw evidence of an affluent and priestly home. Perhaps this was the home of one of the high priests in the 1st century (?). The mosaics, the frescoes, the miqvot (ritual baths) were impressive.
Following lunch in the Jewish Quarter on our own, we enjoyed a conversation with Moshe at Shorashim. Moshe and Dov, two Orthodox brothers, open their store to groups like ours. It was interesting to learn about Jewish thought, practice, and belief.
We walked from Shorashim to the Zion’s Gate and out of the Old City to our bus driver was waiting for us. Driving towards west Jerusalem, our last stop of the day was to the Israel Museum. Here we saw three things: a 1:50 scale-model of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Shrine of the Book (where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls are on display), and the archaeological wing of the museum itself. Here we saw the highlights of important artifacts that have connections to the Bible.
We returned back to our hotel by 5:30. Following dinner some embarked on an optional walk to Ben Yehuda St for some shopping and modern Israeli social life!