Jerusalem & Bethlehem
We had a pretty eventful day. Before walking, our guide showed us the wall of the city and the area that separates Jerusalem and from the Kidron Valley. This picture is of the wall of Jerusalem. The darker stones on the corner are from Jesus’ day.
We started out heading down the Kidron Valley. This valley separates Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. It is a pretty steep walk both down and up again. Down the path, we saw the King’s Tomb which they believe is the tomb of Jehoshaphat. The hole in the center of the monument is damage from the searching of tombs for treasure by invading armies and such.
Recently, a photographer was sitting on the grass next to the tree at the top right. Using a magnifying glass, he found an inscription that shows that it is also the tomb of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. The inscription is at the top just above the center columns where the stone juts out.
At the bottom of the valley, we came to a stairwell that was gated at the bottom. Through the gate, you could hear running water. This was the Spring of Gihon in Hezekiah’s tunnel.
From there we walked up to the Pool of Saloam, the place where Jesus told the blind man to wash after putting mud on his eyes (John 9:7). The pool was much larger than can be seen. The area is owned by the Greek Orthodox Church and won’t allow any more excavation to open the whole pool.
From there we walked down into the valley again and then walked up. I didn’t have much trouble, but I was out of breath when I got to the top. Jesus walked double that distance twice from the Last Supper to the time he walked to the cross. Needless to say, Jesus and the disciples were probably in pretty good shape.
Then we went to the Mount of Olives and visited the Church of the Ascension. (Acts 1). The rock surrounded by marble is the summit of the Mount of Olives where a small Chapel in built over the spot. The chapel originally had no roof. It was an open cylinder because it represented Jesus rising. But in later years, a roof was added. The 2nd picture is the rock at the summit inside the chapel.
About this time, my camera died. I forgot to charge the batteries, but no fear, I had my cell phone.
Shortly thereafter, we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. I was asked to read from Matthew 26 as we sat in one of the gardens. Then we went to the actual garden and visited the church of Agony. This olive tree is over 2000 years old which means it was in the garden when Jesus prayed.
We then head to Bethlehem. This is in Palestinian control so we had to go through a checkpoint like crossing into Canada or Mexico, but just a little more intense. From there we went o lunch and then shopping in an Olive Wood store.
After lunch, we went to the Shepherd’s cave believed and the fields they would have been in.
The guide showing us the fields told us the fields are the same fields that belonged to Boaz from the story of Ruth. The guide explained something I never heard before. If the shepherds were watching the fields by night, they would have been special sheep. It is believed these sheep were first born blemish-free lambs to be used for sacrifice in the temple at Jerusalem.
Next we went to the Church of the Nativity. It was under renovation so the inside was full of scaffolding. We got there at a time when the monks go in to the cave below to pray so we had to wait until they were done. Then we went into the cave believed to be the place where Jesus was born (the 1st picture) and the manger just a few feet way (the second picture)
If you think the Palestinians are not Americanized, think again. This first sign is on a building right outside the place we ate lunch. Instead of American Idol, they have Arab Idol.
And if you are a coffee connoisseur, what does this look like? Read it closely!
It's hard to read because of the pole. It says Stars & Bucks.