Today was an interesting day. We began entering the old city of Jerusalem through the Dung Gate. It gets its name because that is the gate the refuse of the temple was taken out and burned. It is the closest gate to the Western Wall. The Western Wall would be the closest wall to the Holy of Holies. This is the place the Jews believe God resides and since the wall is the only thing left, the wall is the closest they can be to God. It is also called the Wailing Wall. The myth is that at night, the dew on the stones is the people wailing over the loss of the temple.
Women pray on one side of the wall and men on the other. In the area of the wall, both men and women have to have their head covered to honor God.
The prayers that are put in the wall are taken out on Rosh Hashanah and Passover, taken to the Mount of Olives and buried.
By the way, we had to go through security to get to the Wailing Wall and then one again when we went to the Temple Mount. Control of the Temple Mount was given to the Palestinians as a peace offering. We were not allowed to take a bible, a cross or anything remotely Jewish. One of the guides had a yarmulka (head covering) in his bag and they took it and he can’t have it back.
The temple mount is believed to be Mount Moriah, the place that Abraham took Isaac to be sacrificed. In the Muslim religion, Abraham came to sacrifice Ishmael. They also believe that this is the place Mohamed came, ascended into heaven, received the Koran, came back down and brought the Koran back to Mecca.
In 691, the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock on the site the temple was originally built. The first dome was built out of wood and then later out of stone, mosaic decoration and the dome which is 24k gold.
I guess the Palestinian authority likes to change the rules at will to show who is in charge. The electronic sign said non-Muslims could be there until 10:30. Once we were up there, we were told we had to leave at 10:00. On our way out, we passed over the Golden gate which would have been the gate Jesus came through on Palm Sunday.
We then went to the Lion’s Gate or Stephen’s Gate. It is believed that Stephen was stoned just outside this gate.
We then went to see St Ann’s church which is named after Mary’s mother which is also the birthplace of Mary. Just outside is the pools of Bethesda (means house of healing). This s the place the lame man was waiting but could not get into the pool and Jesus healed him. The stirring of the water was caused by the release of water from the limestone rocks.
Then we walked the Via Dolorosa (the way of suffering). We stood in places where Jesus stood as he was facing Pilate, where he was flogged and where he fell. We visited all the sites of the Stations of the Cross which the last ones were in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We saw what is believed to be the place of Crucifixion, the anointing of Jesus’ body.
The tomb is the last station, but we visited that yesterday. The original church was destroyed by the Muslims which was the start of the Crusades. There purpose was to take back the area of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus and rebuild the church.
After that we visited the place of the last supper. It is more ornate than it was in Jesus’ time, decorated by the Crusaders. It is believed to be the spot based on archeological digs and other evidence since this is just above King David’s tomb. .
King David's Tomb Just below the Upper Room
Next we went to the courtyard of Herod’s Palace not far from the upper room. Just as we entered the grounds, a rooster crowed.
Right beside these grounds are the steps that lead to the Gate of the Fountain near the Pool of Saloam. These steps are the ones Jesus traveled two to three times the night before he died.
It was an awesome day but at the same time a sad one. To be in the place that Jesus walked. That was awesome. By the way, things are not the same in Israel as it is in the U.S. Most of these walkways and uncovered artifacts are not off limits. We walked on the same stones Jesus walked on. That was awesome. The sad part is to see the cruelty of human beings; the way they tortured people in those days and to think of the unrest in the area.
Tomorrow we head of to . . . You will have to wait and see.
By the way, tomorrow night will be my last blog from Israel. Wednesday when we leave the hotel, we do our visits and then we head to Tel Aviv for the airport. The last day will be blogged after I get to New York. If I can sleep oj the airplane will determine when I post my last blog