Jerusalem

Hezekiah's tunnel

After climbing the Mount of Olives, we walked to the city of David (the old old city, North of and adjacent tothe current old city), and went into Hezekiah's tunnel (also Siloam tunnel). Hezekiah built this tunnel to make the water supply secure. It leads from the Gihons spring to Siloam's pool. It's just wide enough for one man. The height varies a bit. Sometimes you can stand, sometimes you have to bow for a while. Basically you walk 533 metres through the dark if you turn of your flash light. Which the kids did, they wanted to walk through the dark. Not for claustrofobic people!

The water is between 20cm to about 55cm or so, so you wade through water.

Climbing the mount of Olives

On Monday the plan was to walk up to the top of the mount of Olives. We wanted to start early, but take the car to the Mount of Olives, so we didn't have to walk the first part. Unfortunately navigating the car to the right spot proved quite difficult, so took almost an hour, while a walk would have been just 15 minutes. But our feet were sore enough.

The walkway here crosses the Kidron brook (nothing left of that brook though). It goes to the city of David, the original Jerusalem, while the Jerusalem we see today dates from after that (Solomon already expanded it quite a bit). The valley itself is called Jehoshaphat valley, although not so in the Bible. It's first called this way in 333 AD.

And this is from the other side, towards the mount of Olives.

According to a sign this was the location of the garden of Gethsemane. There's a big church as well, which we didn't visit. But we took a picture of the olive trees. Obviously the Mount of Olives took its name from the many olive trees that used to cover it. But that's no longer the case.

When you walk up the mount of Olives, you can clearly see the Golden Gate. As you can see, it is sealed off. According to Jewish tradition, the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this gate. That's why the Muslims sealed it off.

They even built a graveyard in front of it to prevent the precursor of the Messiah, Elijah, from passing through it.

Here with a bit more context, i.e. with the Dome of the Rock on the left, and the Golden Gate on the right.

Jews like to be buried on the Mount of Olives as they also believe this is where the resurrection will take place.

And us here on the top of the mount of Olives.

This is what you see on the top. It's an Arab neighboorhood>

If you see this, the word of the angels "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." or Zechariah's "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south" look very remote. But perhaps as remote as was the return of the Jews to their own country when John Gill wrote, in the latter half of the 18th century: "but it brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them; that is, the people of the Jews, the proprietors of the land of Israel, shall now be brought forth out of each the nations where they are scattered, and shall inhabit their own land, and dwell in the utmost security, having nothing to fear from their most potent enemies, even Gog himself; and though he shall come against them in the following manner. ..." He wrote that, while the actual event was still 200 years in the future. And we live in the times where this prophecy has been fullfilled.

The other side of the Mount of Olives. Not very clear, but I could see the Judean desert starting over there.

After we went down the hill, across the Kidron brook to the city of David.

Last of Jerusalem

I am now in the car driving (I'm not the one driving) to Tiberias. We just left Jerusalem behind us. Here is what we have been up to for the last few days.

 

Sunday

We went to the (Presbyterian) Scottish Memorial Church. It wasn't Scottish Presbyterian though, more Anglican. We met an American student who was studying Biblical languages in Jerusalem. In the evening we went to the King of Kings Church, a Charismatic Church. but the words in the songs and the message was good.

Monday

We stated by walking up the Mount of Olives. It was a very steep climb and the mounain is littered with graves. Next we went to the City of David, the place where it is beleived David build his city after capturing Jebus. There we went into the tunnels of Hezekiah. The tunnels were pitch black filled with up to 70cm of water and are 533 meters long. It took us 40 minutes to walk through, and I got my shoes and shorts soaked. Next we went to Jerico. It is controlled by the Palestinians, so we left our car at the Isreali checkpoint and got a taxi. All that is left of the old city is a heap of dust. There was nothing much left to see, apart from a few rubbish signs giving wrong dates to everything because some arceologist dug up the wrong part of the city. It was actually quite small, most of the time you think of the Isrealites attacking some really large city. We also went with a cable car to the "Mount of Temptation" as they call it. On our way out, it seemed the whole Palestinians army was on the streets. Now I know the difference with actually feeling safe and being scared. In Jerusalem, 10% of the people you see carry machine guns, but you feel safe with so many soldiers and police around. For one, they have their weapons slung over their shoulders, the Palastinians have their fingers on the triggers. In Isreal the police act like normal people. We drove bakc to Jerusalem and had dinner. Falafel is what you eat here, it's the only cheap food in the country. It is made of pitta bread, humus, pickles, onions, cabbage, anything else you might want in it, and a ball made of really nice stuff (I don't know what it is, but it tastes good).

Walking the ramparts, North, East and South

The Sabbath begins here with sunset, i.e. Friday September 11, at about 18:15. A siren sounds all over the city which indicates the start of the Sabbath. Almost every shop is closed. So Saturday September 12 was also very quiet. But one of the hottest days so far: 36℃

We wanted to do the second part of the ramparts and start early, so at 9am we were at the Jaffa gate again.

On the wall, looking eastward.

The roofs of Jerusalem, a bit different than 2,000 years ago I imagine.

The ever present Dome of the Rock, built on the mountain of Moriah, the mountain where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son, and where later the temple was built.

The Damascus gate, from the top:

And the street leading up to the Damascus gate:

The domes of the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The location we visited yesterday. As you can see in the face of the hill you see a skull.

On the southern part of the wall, looking West.

The garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the mountain of Olives.

With extravagant churches.

Cairo, Eilat, Ein Gedi, Jerusalem

I will write about everything since the last time I wrote (which was the first day in Cairo, a Thursday last week).

 

Friday

We visited the Museum of Egyptain History (it's not called that, but that is what it is). It was interresting. We also visited the Coptic erea of Cairo and went to the Hanging Chruch (it's called that because there is nothing underneath it).

Saturday

We drove to Isreal with a bus. First our driver broke down and a passenger drove. Next we switched into another bus. This bus broke down. We switched back into the bus with our sick driver. Next we switched to another bus, and that one got us all the way there. We went to Eilat and swam in the Red Sea.

Sunday

We stayed in The Shelter Hostel, they have a Bible Study every day. A few Jews, but mostly tourists attend. They have a minister from America.

Monday

We got our rental car and drove to Ein Gedi. We stopped in Timna Park where we saw a reconstruction of the Tabernacle. There where also lots of natural formations like arches and pillars. It was very fun to climb those things.

Tuesday

We started with a swim in the Dead Sea. You float no matter what you do, the feeling is funny. Next we went to the Ein Gedi Park. We had a nice walk and lots of swims (because it is really hot here). There are 4 springs in the park, the David Spring was very long with about 6 swimming places. After walking through a dessert in 40 degrees, it's nice to swim.

Wednesday

We went to the park early and stayed there the whole day. We walked a lot more than the previous day. We went up the cliffs to the source of the David spring and passed 2 other springs on the way and swam. In the afternoon we drove to Jerusalem.

Thursday

We went into the old city and walked around it. There are many small streets and shops line the roads. We also went to the Garden Tomb, which is an old tomb in a garden, a place like the one Jesus would have been buried in.

Friday

We walled around half of the old city wall built by Suleman about 500 years ago to stop another Crusade. I went to the Great Synagogue with my mum to look around, it was a large place. The way they worship is interresting, with a lot of movement like standing, bowing, and turning around.

Saturday

We walked around the second half of the wall. We were planning to go to the beach close to Tel Aviv, but the carpark was closed beause it is Shabbat (Jewish Sabbath).

Walking the ramparts of Jerusalem: North and West

On Friday September 11 we were at the ramparts, slightly after 9am, the time when they open. It appeared however that only the south east section was open. Because it was Friday, the holy day for the Muslims, the other part was closed. Doing that one tomorrow.

Looking West. The hotel in the centre is the King David Hotel.

Between us and the King David Hotel is the Biblical valley of Hinnom, where the Israelites sacrificed their children to the Moloch. Topheth was here, and it is therefore also called Topheth. Here a look down in this valley.

AnneRoos looking over the walls.

Looking East with the Mount of Olives just on the right, and the graves on this mount as well.

And a clearer view of the Mount of Olives.

The hill is covered by graves.

Jerusalem is surrounded by hills, and the city has sprawled out over them.

At the Dung gate we couldn't continue, so we walked back outside the walls, and entered again at Zion gate.

Jerusalem, walking in the old city

In shops in Jerusalem we saw a T-shirt with the slogan: "I walked my feet of in Jerusalem." And that's what we did. Jerusalem is best explored on foot, so we explored the old city on foot. Did we walk a lot!

On Thursday September 10 we started walking through the old city. We started at the Jaffa (Joppa) gate

Jerusalem is a large sprawling city. But its centre is the old city. The old city is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim. This is taken somewhere in the Jewish quarters.

At the "temple" wall:

The Via Dolorosa is in the old city as well. Supposedly the place where Simon of Cyrene was compelled to take over the cross. On the left you just see a portion of a cross that a large group of South Americans Catholics, our guess, were carrying around.

Catholics and their churches are everywhere in this city.

The old city is very interesting. All narrow streets. This is one of the bigger ones, just enough for one car;

One of the pools of Bethesda:

The Damascus gate, from inside the old city. This is the gate Paul went through to go Damascus.

And the Damascus gate from the outside.

According to travel books this is the most holiest place for Christianity: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the supposed site of Golgotha. No hill can be seen anymore. The church on top of it is shared between the Greek Orthodox Church, the pope, the Eastern Orthodox the Armenian Apostolic and perhaps others.

The church inside was extremely nice, but the idolatry was just expelling us. People were kissing the supposed stone of anointing (where Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of Jesus) etc. etc. Very sad.

So we went back to a place we were earlier, but which was closed between 12pm and 2pm: a hill that actually looks like Golgotha, and might have some similarities to what things actually looked like 2,000 years ago. But first a stop for some refreshing drinks, to get some new energy. I asked for a beer. As it was the Ramadan, it would upset the Muslims too much to see me drink beer, so I was asked to sit in the back of the store, and got the beer in a Pepsi bottle. The guy selling this was an Armenian...

The kids got banana with mango with some insistence from the shop owner. They actually liked it!

So we went to the Garden Tomb, located outside the current city walls, and it has a hill which looked like a skull as well. Currently only the eyes and the nose are visible.

There's also a tomb which is somewhat like tombs from that time.

The door is normally open, but we closed it so we could take this picture.

There's even a picture of a stone like they might have had in those times. The stone for Jesus' grave was probably larger and heavier than this one.

To be honest, I think the site of the church of the Holy Sepulchre is probably the site, but it doesn't look like anything of 2,000 years ago. But this site has some credentials, and certainly looks much more like things were 2,000 years ago.

And then it was time to go home, and take care of my blisters.

Jerusalem 1

In the afternoon of Wednesday September 9 we drove from Ein Gedi to Jerusalem. Close to Jerusalem, we noticed that we saw clouds! You don't see a cloud all day at Eilat or Ein Gedi, it's remarkable we actually noticed that we saw clouds again. Finding our hotel was a bit of an issue, but after driving around the old city, and asking around at various other hotels a couple of times, we finally found it. We didn't do a lot, but went to bed early, for an early start.

This is us on Thursday, in front of the Jaffa gate (the gate to Joppa).

And at the wailing wall, which most Jews consider the center of their religion unfortunately.

More photos next time.

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