Next up on the tour: Jerusalem and down to the Dead Sea 🙂 I can’t describe the feeling of seeing the places where David most likely lived and walked. Obviously, in America we don’t have anything that old. Again, I wouldn’t say it confirmed my faith, but it did just make the Bible come alive in a different way.
Where we stayed:
This place had internet! The rooms were very small and didn’t have a blowdryer, but we liked it.
We were staying here during Passover, so the hotel switched the menu to Kosher. Not a problem, we just kept forgetting why we couldn’t drink a cappuccino in the dining room (dairy and meat can’t be in the same room). Everything was gluten free, and they replaced all the pitas with matzahs 🙁
They did have a delicious breakfast/ dinner buffet.
We had to pack a lot into Day Five because many of the sites would be closed for the Sabbath the next day. Lots of walking and learning!! Hoping I can remember it all for this post!
The Temple Mount
We arrived at the Temple Mount early and before it opened. The line can get pretty long, so the tour guides try to get their groups to the site really early. Security will search all your bags, so we didn’t bring anything with us in order to keep the line moving. They also will not allow you to bring a Bible inside, FYI. But you can bring your phone!
While waiting in line to go inside, we saw a Bar Mitzvah celebration walk by on their way to the Western Wall!
Loved the tile design all over the Mosque!
This location could be one of the places where Jesus was mocked and crowned “King of the Jews.” They found carvings depicting games the guards would play with the prisoners: they crowned a prisoner “king for the day,” and the prisoner would be treated well throughout the day but then killed.
While in the Praetorium, Eric read the corresponding passage and we spent some time in prayer.
The Western Wall
We saw the Western Wall pretty empty in the morning while walking up to the Mount. I poked my head over to the men’s side to watch the Bar Mitzvah ceremonies and readings…. but I missed a photo of Eric wearing his yamaka! You’ll see a closeup of all the notes squeezed into the cracks in the rocks…
The Cardo is a type of main street in a city, and the Western Wall continues along this Cardo underground. We saw evidence of how these large cut stones were moved into place (a lot of pulleys). The largest stone along this wall weighs 570 tonsand is 44 feet long, 10 feet high, and 12 feet deep!
Church of St. Anne
Our group just stopped by this church to sing with these awesome acoustics 🙂 Groups line up to sing in there , and it was really beautiful!
Pool of Bethesda
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. John 5:2-9
The “Dry” Tunnel
This site was super interesting! We saw the wall Nehemiah built and walked through these irrigation tunnels where water drained out of the city and into the fields. When David investigated to conquer the Jebusites, he climbed through these tunnels and swam up through the cistern. Obviously, it’s impossible to know this for sure, but it does seem to make sense.
Archeologists also found steps leading up to the temple that would have been the main path for visitors offering sacrifices.
This may not seem like much, but this southern wall marks the only exit from the temple during Jesus’ time. Archeologists were able to find this stone from the Herodian period, when Christ would have visited the temple. Meaning, He definitely would have walked on the stone 🙂
We visited the museum in the morning on a super chilly windy day, but we spent a few minutes checking out the model of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea Scrolls! We basically sprinted through the rest of the museum and artifacts.
The Holocaust Museum was very moving, but we weren’t able to take photos inside. At the end of the path in the museum, you look out onto Israel and the future.
Overlook of Jerusalem
Some tour guides like that say these olive trees were here when Jesus was in the garden. Because olive trees don’t have rings, it’s impossible to really know how old they are. However, none of these would be older than 1000 years.
The Garden Tomb
This is kind of the protestant location for the tomb, and the Holy Sepulchre is the Catholic/Orthodox one. While the Garden Tomb location is lovely, and they do have a rock that looks like a scull, many people believe that the Sepulchre location is a more realistic option since it was “discovered” only 400 years after the crucifixion.
We took communion and sang a few hymns while at this spot.
We left Jerusalem and went south along the Jordan to the Dead Sea! We had a fairly relaxing day with hiking and swimming!
Ein Gedi National Park
This national park revealed another little desert oasis with lots of native wildlife 🙂
Phew – we visited more places than I realized!! Herod built Masada as a fortress, because any invader could not approach the city without being seen. They had storehouses and provisions to keep them alive for a long time under siege. Herod invented all kinds of aqueducts to make sure the city had plenty of water despite being in the desert.
Later, the Romans camped outside the city and eventually built a ramp up to the entrance of Masada. The entire settlement committed suicide in order to not be enslaved by the Romans.
Shepherds in the area found the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Qumran Caves! A settlement of scribes lived here, and many believe this is the region where John the Baptist would have lived in the wilderness.
Dead Sea Swim
Floating in the Dead Sea! You really just pop back up when you try to sit down. Very strange feeling.
A few people from our group went home at the end of Day Eight without continuing on to Jordan. But we still fit in a few last trips!
At Beit Guvrin, we saw a whole village carved into the soft chalk stone underground. They raised a lot of pigeons for food and sacrifices back then… and they lived in all of these little cubbies! And we saw an original olive press in perfect condition.
They’re called the Bell Caves because they were carved from a narrow opening and then widened into a bell shape.
Found some gelato on this Palm Sunday! We had a little extra time to shop and explore today, but the market was pretty crowded because of the holiday.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Palm Sunday and didn’t realize quite how crazy busy it would be. Six different Orthodox and Catholic denominations run the church, and each one had its own processional for the holiday.
We managed to get inside, but couldn’t figure out the flow from room to room. Because the church was built over the tomb and the place considered Golgotha, I had trouble picturing the actual scene (which is probably why the Garden Tomb is a nice alternative).
And because of the crowds, this might be the only place I didn’t feel super safe. Unfortunately, Egypt experienced a terrorist attack on Palm Sunday, so maybe my uneasiness was justified.
Well, not going to lie, that took a lot longer than I expected! I can’t believe all the places we went and saw! Jordan was much more relaxing. I wish I could have given you a little more information for each location, but I guess you’ll just have to visit for yourself! Or maybe you already visited – so many of my friends visited Israel this year!
I’ll be back on Friday with the Jordan trip details!