Revisiting Israel - Day Six, Part One
Jerusalem is such an interesting city. All of the buildings are required to use the same type of stone, making the whole city look connected, giving it an old yet new feel. Many signs are written in Hebrew and English. I think most people here speak Hebrew, which is read from right to left, rather than left to right as we do in English. Jerusalem is home to several tunnels, which protected the city’s water supply. During David’s day the city seemed impenetrable, and the Jebusite residents taunted David saying he would never get in to conquer them. David told his men that whoever went through the water shaft would get in, which his nephew Joab did, earning the right to become David’s general.
Later, during Hezekiah’s reign, another tunnel was dug to offer better protection from Assyrian and other enemies. We went through two of these tunnels, Joab’s and either Hezekiah’s or the Canaanite tunnel.
The sign showed both and I’m not sure which one we squeezed through. I say squeezed because some of the passageways were quite narrow, causing us to have to turn sideways. I really enjoyed walking through these tunnels imagining what it must have been like then, as long as we kept moving. We spent so much time underground talking about water systems that at times I got a little claustrophobic. When we kept moving, I was fine.
From there we walked to the pool of Siloam, which I don’t think has been fully excavated. The water looked a bit stagnant though I think it did keep moving somewhere. The whole pool seemed pretty small, which is another reason I don’t think they’ve uncovered it all.
Excavation sites can be seen throughout Jerusalem, so I suspect in the future there will be even more tourist stops to see things they’ve uncovered.
Gethsemane was our next stop. The Church of the Nations (another shrine) is very large and ornate and stands in the middle of the garden, which I suppose is nice to allow a place to worship, but I still think all of these shrines take away from the beauty of the place as God intended or first created. The garden has been blocked by a number of fences and gates so you can look but you can’t walk through and really get the feel for the place. A bit disappointing.
Gethsemane means olive press. Eight of the trees there are 2500 years old. The oldest has a split trunk but new growth has sprung from the roots. If trees could talk, imagine what they could tell us about the history that happened here.
We moved from there to the Mount of Olives where we had a group photo taken, which turned out pretty well. This was also where I got my camel ride, but then we had to half run to catch up to our group. We found them at a Jewish cemetery. Our guide told us that the Jews believe that only people buried in Jerusalem will be resurrected. In contrast to that, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 NIV Apparently, these Jews do not. (Some Messianic Jews do.) After the cemetery stop, our guide took us on the Palm Sunday walk following the path near the one Jesus took from the Mount of Olives into Jerusalem when the people wanted to hail him as king. Overlooking the city one cannot help but think of Jesus’ words when He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.” Matthew 23:37-38 NIV
How much different things might have been if they had recognized their Messiah when He came. But someday – “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” Zechariah 12:10 NIV
Someday, they will see Jesus in a different light and love Him as He deserves. As He loves them even now. As He loves us all. Shalom ~