While eating breakfast at the Shalom we observed a beautiful sunrise over Jerusalem. While eating breakfast I looked around and observed the Israelites, thinking what a stubborn people they were, and how the Lord still has His hand on them, even though they do not believe in Jesus and the New Testament. Our hotel gave us a beautiful view of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a melting pot with all kinds of people. All of the people in Israel, the men and the women, must serve in the army for two years and take their vows on Mount Masada. I found the people in Israel to be friendlier, more courteous, and more respectful (especially the children) than Americans.
Today, our first stop was at the model of Jerusalem (The “Model City”). The model depicted Jerusalem at the time of the Second Temple (the time of Jesus). The Model City displays the many walls, the residences, Herod’s Palace, the Fortress of Antonio, the Temple, and many other things.
Next, we went towards the Mount of Olives. On our way, we observed an Arab kiss his camel, and give our pastor a ride. We went up the Mount of Olives to the temple of Ascension which is now a Mosque. (refer to Acts 1:4 through Acts 1:11). There is an “alleged footprint” where Jesus ascended from, inside the small temple upon a rock. Next, we went a short distance away and took several pictures of Jerusalem from this panoramic view. From our location on the Mount of Olives, we had a view of Jerusalem over the Kidron Valley. Also observed was David’s City, the Dome of the Rock, as well as the northern end of Jerusalem. It is interesting to note that the current city walls are only five hundred years old, and built by the Ottoman Turks. Mount Ophel is David’s old city, and Mount Zion is above David’s City, outside the wall. We saw Absalom’s tomb in the Kidron Valley. As we departed from the Temple of Ascension, a burro blocked our path on our way to the Garden of Gethsemane.
We went into the Garden of Gethsemane (“semane” means olive oil). Gethsemane may have been near John Mark’s home. We entered the Church of All Nations where the alleged rock is that Jesus prayed at. This is located next to the Garden of Gethsemane.
We drove up to the Old City of Jerusalem and entered Stephen’s Gate, which is also known as the Lion’s Gate, with a lion on each side of the gate.
Next, we observed a fine site of archaeology – the Pool of Bethesda. The pool has five porches where people were healed, and is dug out very deep.
The streets of Jerusalem are very narrow. The women wore robes, and carried large objects on their head. Beggars and cripples lingered on the street corners. Walking in the “Old City” is like walking into the past. Burros carrying loads walk in the streets. Flutes, and other eastern instruments can be heard. Muslim people can be heard wailing over microphones.
Next, we arrived at my favorite archaeological site in the whole city – we entered the Judgment Hall at the Fortress of Antonio. There was a cistern and a water supply here. We observed areas cut by Herod, which was originally the moat of the Fortress of Antonio. Next, we went deep into the beautiful, large, and open Strutheon Pool. Water runs down into the pools from the mountains. We approached other cisterns and lithostrotos pavement that Jesus walked on. The pavement was made up of large stones with wedges to prevent slipping. A church was built above this pavement. Jesus was tried and judged near here by Pontius Pilate.
We walked down today’s Via Dolorosa, where Jesus is supposed to have carried His cross to Calvary. The actual road, however, would be many feet underground. The Via Dolorosa featured an arch overhead, this is an original arch left from the Fortress of Antonio.
The business district was bustling – people commonly walk up to you in order to sell you just about everything. There are money changers today in Jerusalem just like in Christ’s time. Many people wear cloaks, robes, togas, and turbines. Conservative Muslim women wear veils. We stopped and looked at a Muslim water trough.
We approached the Western “Wailing” Wall and we were frisked on the way into this area. The wall is near Mount Zion and the Tyropoeon Valley. The Tyropoeon Valley, filled over the years, is right in front of the wall. The wall is very long, and is the last part of the temple that was not destroyed – hence the Rabiis, Orthodox Jews, etc. wail there. We observed the same wall nearby extending underground. The entire original wall is 150 feet high. When the rabiis pray – they read their Tora, and they chant, buck their head backwards and forwards, and side to side. They shake their knees. Loads and loads of prayers were stuck in the cracks of the walls. The rabiis wore prayer boxes (Phylacteries; Matthew 23:5) on their foreheads and arms, and were dressed all in black. In essence, they are modern day Pharisees. They are very, very zealous. If they were converted, their zeal would turn the world upside down (like Paul of Tarsus). When we entered, we put on “cardboard beenies” or Kippurs, like everyone else. A head covering, they feel, is needed in a holy place. Orthodox Jews of the law, modern day Pharisees, were seen everywhere.
We observed the excavated Tyropoeon Valley (Old Jerusalem) near the Wailing (Western) Wall. We passed a Byzantine, Muslim Mosque and approached the Dome of the Rock. It was built in the eighth century. Abraham offered the sacrifice of Isaac at the rock in the Dome – the rock inside is the ONLY part of Mount Moriah that Herod left exposed after all of his building. The best marble available was used to build it. There is a hole in the rock, and a drainage area below for all the blood sacrifices. Blood would run underneath, all the way down the mountain. The Dome of the Rock is surrounded by a Muslim Mosque and worship area. From this area, one can see the Tyropoeon Valley, the Western Wall, and David’s City beyond.
Jerusalem is a melting pot of cultures, beliefs and different people’s religions. At lunch time, a man on the tour (Steve Abbott) was drinking a milkshake for lunch and was told to leave – this is NOT KOSHER. Dairy products cannot be eaten with meat products. The religions of Jerusalem are 1) Islamic (Muslim) 2) Jewish 3) Christian and 4) Armenian (preceded by Greek Orthodox). All believe in one God and are monotheistic, and all of them go back to Abraham.
We observed the remains of Byzantine shops. The shops were Roman streets with columns (pillars), and stores on both sides of the street. These shops were part of Jerusalem after 70 A.D., when Titus destroyed Jerusalem. Farther down the row of shops, modern shops are built in the original shops. We then passed a display revealing the Maccabean, Hasmonean ruins and walls. These dated from 100 B.C. to 700 B.C., the bottom stones were from the time of Hezekiah and the first temple. Next, we saw an area where the Israeli and Hasmonean walls joined together. We passed a Byzantine mosaic map, revealing Jerusalem in the sixth century – showing even the streets with the shops that we previously observed.
In Jerusalem, the people bargain and haggle over everything – nothing has a set price. The people are friendly and get satisfaction in helping you. A boy gave me an olive branch, expecting nothing in return. I bought film from a boy, and he brought down the price for me.
Next, we entered the upper room on Mount Zion. A Muslim Arab altar was put there when they took over. This is just the traditional location. The upper room is traced back only to the Byzantine period, hence it cannot be real.
We went to Mount Zion, King David’s tomb. Muslim and Byzantine architecture was observed here also, hence this location is probably also traditional. We observed the Hinnom Valley off in the distance.
We entered Caiphas’ Palace, which was located below a Catholic Church. We saw a prison where prisoners were dropped through a circular hole. Could Jesus have been kept here? More prisons and dungeons were located below. This was definitely the main prison of the House of Caiphas. There were even holes in the walls where the prisoners were strapped into place when they were whipped and beaten.
Caiphas’ Palace was a great archaeological site. Wonderful views were observed of the Kidron Valley, the Tyropoeon Valley in the lower city in Old Jerusalem, and the ruins of Caiphas’ Palace located outside the Catholic Church. David’s city is located on Mount Ophel, the original Canaanite stronghold of Jerusalem.
Note: Since traveling to Israel nearly thirty years ago, there is another school of thought regarding archaeology in Jerusalem. The “Wailing” Wall is now thought to be from the Fortress of Antonio rather than from Herod’s Temple. Bob Cornuke’s book Temple is the watershed book regarding this new discovery. I believe Bob is correct in his assessment.