For every picture I'm posting there are ten that I'm not. There's simply too many. When I get back I may be able to do something more comprehensive. For now, I hope these posts will serve to give you some idea of what we are doing. Keep in mind that you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
Sunday was our last day in Jerusalem, so it was packed pretty tight. We began by going to Hezekiah's Tunnel in the City of David. This is the tunnel constructed before the Assyrian siege to bring water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam.
That picture is with a flash, to give you an idea of the size of the tunnel. It was completely dark inside, and you're obliged to use a headlamp or flashlight to find your way. There is still water in the tunnel, most of it about 12 inches deep. (One section near the North entrance is at least 2 feet.)
It was a pleasant surprise to find the water quite warm and not too high. All the same, we were glad to have the sandals. Squishing around in wet tennis shoes would not have been fun.
After exiting the tunnel we followed signs to the Pool of Siloam. Here you can see the original steps leading down to where the water would have been. Amazing.
As you recall, this is where Jesus sent the blind man after he had put mud and saliva on his eyes. (John 9) It makes one wonder how the blind man knew where the pool was, and how he got there. It's hard enough to find for those of us who can see.
Everywhere in and around Jerusalem there are soldiers carrying automatics. This soldier was part of a unit that was taking a tour of the City of David. This is Israel's off-season, so it makes sense to use this time to give the army a chance to see the history they are defending.
An overlook in the City of David. The Kidron Valley is down to the left (my right).
After going through the rest of the City of David and watching a short 3-D video, we headed back into the Old City via the Dung Gate to see part of the Archaeological Park that was closed on Friday. This section included Huldah's Gates and some Byzantine-era excavations of residential-type structures. Huldah's Gates, now filled in with stone and mortar, used to lead into the Temple enclosure.
The Dome of the Rock is a 7th century structure, built by the Muslims around the stone where they believe Abraham was preparing to sacrifice Ishmael. (That's not a typo, that's what they believe.)
Because the precise location of the Holy of Holies is not known, by Rabbinical Law Jews are strictly forbidden access to the Temple Mount. Against this backdrop, the rending of the veil and the Christian's prerogative to enter the presence of God takes on an awful significance.
From the Temple Mount, Joseph and I split up with Timothy and Brittany for the afternoon, planning a slightly more ambitious programme. First we headed to David's Tower to see the exhibits there and then we began the "Ramparts Walk" - walking along the top of the walls of the Old City.
The walk is done in two sections, heading opposite directions from Jaffa Gate. The first section, to the South, goes around to the Dung Gate. The second, to the North, goes over Damascus Gate and ends in the Muslim Quarter near The Lion's Gate.
We went out The Lion's Gate and back to the Mt. of Olives to explore the area a little more and locate the Jerusalem panorama. Climbing up the mountain, we passed by the enormous cemetery (above) on the Western slope of the mount. I suppose this is how you reserve a front-row seat for the Apocalypse.
We reached the overlook and took some pictures. The local kids offer you olive branches, hoping you will give them a few shekels. After a few minutes we started back down.
On the way down we stopped at the Basilica of Gethsemane, a large church near the bottom of the mount. The splendor of the churches contrasts dramatically with the squalor of the streets.
There was a nicely maintained olive garden adjacent to the church, along with a reverent and beautiful declaration of trust. May we learn how to "watch" with Christ. (Matthew 26:28)
Leaving the garden, we headed back into the city to do some shopping before everything closed for the evening. We were able to purchase a used Nokia phone, along with a 60-minute SIM card, for $60. This has made it much easier to coordinate our adventures with Timothy and Brittany.
Shopping in Jerusalem is addicting. Because the bargaining process is so enjoyable, it's tempting to buy things just for the fun of it. Using a different currency doesn't help, because it's more like playing Monopoly than actually spending money. Oh well. I suppose one doesn't get to shop in Jerusalem every day.
After escaping the shopping district we located the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and stepped inside. We needed to meet Timothy and Brittany at the Western Wall Tunnels at 1900, so we hurried through. The church had the same disagreeable atmosphere as the Church of the Nativity, so we had no inclination to spend more time there anyway.
The Western Wall Tunnels, along the Western wall of the Second Temple, were fascinating. The Second Temple required 50,000 years of man-hours to construct. That's a lot of timecards.
Unlike Hezekiah's Tunnel, these tunnels are wide, dry, and well-lit. We were part of a guided English tour, led by a middle-aged Jewish man. By this time I was pretty beat, so I don't really have any pictures of the tunnels.
Time to hit the hay before we leave for Galilee and the North!