Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hezekiah's Tunnel, come get wet!

 Here's another studying-for-finals diversion!!  We walked down to the City of David, which is way down the hill from the Old City walls.  Going to Hezekiah's tunnel to get wet!!
 Clara and Emily near the entrance of the City of David.
 View down into the Kidron Valley.
 Some of the ruins they have unearthed, the city where David was King.
 So now we're going down in the tunnel that King Hezekiah built to bring water from the Gihon Spring up to the upper city of Jerusalem.
 Down down down some stairs, deep into the earth.
It's really dark down here, that's me and Emily, we are already standing in water.  Here's a video of us sloshing through the tunnel. The part you see, the water is not very deep. When we first got in, it was several inches above my knees. Felt cold at first, but we quickly got used to it. This is fresh water that is always flowing from the Gihon Spring, which is in the City of David, the same spring all the people got their water from around 1000 BC.

 Clara loved the tunnel!!
 We emerged from tunnel, way down where the Pool of Siloam is...that's it down below. That's the pool where Jesus had the blind man wash off the mud from his eyes.
Clara at the entrance to the city of David. I love the harp, and I love her:)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock, the site of Solomon's Temple

I finally had the time and patience to wait in a long line to get up on top of the Temple Mount, which is just above the Western Wall. This is taken from the Western Wall plaza, you see the wooden bridge that tourists or visitors go across to get up to the Temple Mount. They only open certain hours, and you have to go through security screening and a metal detector to be allowed entry.  All the flags you see hanging on the bridge are in preparation for Israel Independence Day which is Thursday this week.  Lots of celebrations, fireworks, airshows, etc. planned.

 There are 2 lines at the Dung Gate - one to get to the Western Wall, and one to the Temple Mount. Jews do not go up on the Temple Mount, as you can see from this sign, it is considered too holy, and they are not allowed to go up there.
 Now I am up on the bridge, looking down on the Western Wall. The far side is for men, the near for women.
 Looking away from the Western Wall towards the plaza, the large open area is still the men's side. The Western Wall is simply what's left of the retaining wall that Herod the Great built when he improved the Temple.  It surrounds and holds up the Temple Mount, where the beautiful 2nd Temple built by Solomon used to stand.
 Up on the Temple Mount, the first thing I see is a group of Muslim women have a meeting of some kind. Maybe studying the Qur'an?
 This is the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. It is the only Mosque up there, the Dome of the Rock is not a Mosque, but is considered the third holiest site for Sunni Muslims.
 This is where you sit to wash your hands and feet before entering the holy site.
 First view of the Dome of the Rock.
 This is a beautiful structure, and so huge when you see it in person.
 See the detail of decoration, the tile Arabic writings, etc.
 Turning to the East, we see the Mount of Olives through these arches. The Golden roofs is the Church of Mary Magdalene, a Russian Orthodox church.
 This is what I was trying to find! The inside of the Eastern Gate, or Golden Gate...the gate that Jews believe the Messiah will come through to enter Jerusalem! This is the gate that Jesus likely came through on Palm Sunday. Read Ezek.44:1-3, this gate has been shut for centuries since the time of the Ottoman empire, and won't be open again until the "Prince" (of Peace:) comes through it. Hosanna!
 The bottom of the gate.
 The top of the gate, some kind of Arabic sign, not sure what it says...
 Steps going down to the gate (taken through a gate...we can't get near it)
 Steps going back up to the platform.
 Here our shadows are on a piece of the bedrock of Mount Moriah which is exposed.
 The entrance to the Dome of the Rock.  Inside is a Only Muslims can enter, these guys are putting their shoes back on after being inside.  I wanted to go in, but couldn't so I found this pic for you:

OK, this is what it looks like inside the Dome of the Rock (yes, I got this picture off the internet:), and this what it said about this photo:
Looking down from the golden drum, this is the sacred rock that is the focus and namesake of the Dome of the Rock. Jews believe that it was on this rock that Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac, and this stone may have once stood in Solomon's Temple. Muslims believe that the Prophet Muhammad took flight on his winged horse from this rock on his Night Journey to heaven, leaving imprints behind. Muslim tradition also has it that it an angel will appear here with a trumpet call to announce the Last Judgement at end of the world.

Getting ready to leave the Temple Mount through the gate of the Cotton Merchants, which takes us into the Muslim Quarter.
 Straight through the gate, here's the street we ended up on.
 Snapped this picture of Al-Aqsa Mosque (so you can see where we just were), and Mount of Olives in the background.
 The security entrance to the Western wall and the Temple Mount, and the wooden bridge you walk on to get up there.
Walking back through the Jewish Quarter, I noticed a huge flag banner draped around the dome of the Hurva Synagogue, in preparation for Israel Independence day!  Thanks for coming with me to the Temple Mount:)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Come go up to theThe Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane!

Hey, I was tired of studying, it was a beautiful sunny gorgeous day, and Chelsea and Liz asked me to go with them to the Mount of Olives this afternoon....what would you say??  Right...I said "I'm in!"
 We took an Arab bus for 5 shekels (about $1.25) to the top of the Mount of Olives, and went to a place called Augusta Victoria, which is a Christian church with a tower (in pic), an Arabic hospital, and a coffee shop.  The tower was closed, or we would have climbed it for an even greater view.
 We can't climb the tower, but we can surely go to the coffee shop!
Iced coffee....mmmmm, so good on a sunny day on the Mount of Olives:)
View of the Northern end of the Mount of Olives
 Looking the other direction, to the southeast...I know it's hard to see, but thats the Dead Sea in the far distance!
After the coffee, we went for a walk along the streets.The Mount of Olives is almost entirely Palestinian (Arabs), since it is East Jerusalem.  (West Jerusalem is mostly Jewish.)
Saw this little girl playing on her balcony as we walked past.
Some graffitti, with a Palestinian flag spray painted on the wall.
 Surprisingly, we saw this Israeli flag just around the corner.
 Finally, this is what we were trying to find, the Lookout with the awesome view of the Old City of Jerusalem.
I could never get tired of this view.  We are looking at the Eastern wall of the Old City, directly onto the Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock. You see the Golden or Eastern Gate to the right of the Dome, an elevation in the wall. In the foreground is the Jewish cemetary. The Jews are buried on the Mount of Olives, and Muslims buried on the opposite side of the Kidron Valley, next to the city walls.

 Started to walk down the Mount of Olives on the Palm Sunday Road, we got behind lots of Japanese tourists.
 Now we're alone on the same road, that's Liz and Chelsea ahead of me, taking pictures of some flowers on the wall.
 And there they are.....pretty!!
 At the base of the Mount of Olives, is what is called the Garden of Gethsemane.  Of course we don't know exactly where Jesus was praying with His disciples when He got arrested, but it was definitely near here. Gethsemane means 'Olive Press', so it was a place with lots of Olive trees and a press. This tree here is very very old, they just seem to get thicker as they get older.

The whiter shorter thing you see here is what's left of a very ancient Olive Tree which probably did exist in Jesus' day.
 Here's what the entry to the Church of All Nations looks like, which is the church at the Garden of Gethsemane.
 We walked inside the church and they were having a service in there. The white-appearing floor you see in front of the Priest is a huge rock, that many believe may have been the rock that Jesus leaned on when He was in travail and prayer in the garden, while His disciples slept nearby.
More Olive trees in the garden. There's a timeless beauty about these trees that produce a fruit which has been so central to Israel's economy and sustenance for millenia

 The Church of All Nations exterior.
Speaking of olive trees, they are everywhere!! Here amidst a muslim cemetary, beneath the Old City walls.
Across the street from the church, we are looking down into the Kidron valley at hundreds of olive trees. The Eastern Gate (Golden Gate) is above us, a well-recognized landmark on the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem. This is the gate (which has been closed for centuries) that Jesus, the Messiah,will enter the city through when He returns, as He begins His Millenial reign in Jerusalem.

 The Kidron Valley which runs right between the Mount of Olives (left) and the Temple Mount/Old City (right).  The conical structure you see in the center is a huge old tomb, called Absalom's pillar, but it really has nothing to do with Absalom and is dated from way after he lived.
Walking back up the hill to return to school, we see a small flock of goats grazing right next to the Old City Wall. Some things never change.  My next post will include pictures of the Temple Mount...I finally had a chance to go up there and see the Dome of the Rock, see the other side of the Eastern Gate, and see the place where the Temple once as soon as I can get to it:)