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Monday, July 20, 2009

Last Weekend in Israel

Today we got to sleep in late ...til 6:40!!!! We had to be ready to head to Jerusalem by 8:30..which included eating our breakfast.
We first went to the wailing wall. Since it was Shabbat we couldn't take pictures but we were told we were coming back the next day and could take them then. I have to be honest and say that I was very cautious up close to the wall. This is the closest that the Jews can get to the Holy of Holies and therefore they think its the closest you can get to God's presence. They weep at this wall, tuck in prayer, pray to it and rock to it. They wont turn thier backs on it and they must visit it a certain amount of times per year. I immediately felt broken for these people as I approached the wall....they have allowed it to become an idol. They dont' know that Christ came to break that barrier so that we can be in his presence at all times...I didn't touch the wall...I had no desire to. Adam and I of course were seperated since men and women have to approach the wall on different sides....a man came up to he and others from our group and started chanting with them and waving a plam brach at them....they chanted "shalom, shabbat....something something"...Adam thought that was kinda neat. All the men had thier head covered and most had on thier prayer shawls.
Next we headed to the Broad wall built by Hezekiah...this wall is mentioned several times in the bible. Its mentioned in Isaiah that he built through houses and that it was built in fear of being attacked.....and was later defeated by Nebuchednezzar. A cool thing is that we saw some of the excavations of the wall and right there is a house that it goes through ..awesome.
Next we head to see more remains of the Cardo....from the Roman occupation...several columns are still standing and we are told that this road would have been 6 lanes wide through Jerusalem.
After that we are given are last free time in Jerusalem to buy any souvenirs we may want and to visit anything we didn't get enough time in.
Adam and I head with John Byron and several students to walk the Viladolorsoa in the Muslim quarter. We start at the Lions gate and head up through several stations of the walk.
We pass Mary's birthplace, Anne's birthplace ( mary's mother), the flagallation station ( where christ was whipped), the condemnation station, Ecce Homo ( where Pilot condemned Christ), A stataion where Simon took the cross from Jesus, a station where Veronica wiped the sweat from his face and then we end at the Holy Sepulcre....where the traditional Golgotha is. We go back into the Holy Sulpulcre since we now have better education on why this is probably the best place for Christs tomb and golgotha and not the garden tomb...I will post a whole blog on this arguement soon. We see ancient tombs inside and places where the Crusaders carved their cross into the stones. Next we head down two flights of stairs to see the bedrock of this church where stone was quarried to build it so that it would be around the tomb of christ and golgotha.
For lunch Adam and I head to Shabban ( I dont know if I mentioned him before but he is Dr. Ortiz's close friend and gives us the best prices around). We ask him to get us swarma and we enjoy it a couple of minutes later there in his shop with the fan blowing on us. Then we had 3 WHOLE HOURS TO SHOP!!!! This was a wonderful time for me because I stopped and talked to almost every shop owner who try to convince me that I needed either jewelry or something else for my "pretty eyes". Adam got rather frustrated and stood out in the street tapping his foot. He told me not to talk to everyone and to stop making eye contact.....hahaa. I just wanted to be social. They could all tell I was from the South and many said " you from georgia"..i dont know how they knew about Georgia. We all met at the Joppa gate at 4:30 and headed back to Neve Shalom for dinner.

The next day was Sunday and as promised we went back to the Wailing Wall to take pictures...it was much less crowded since Sunday is the beginning of thier work week....i still didn't touch the wall though. Our group went through the Western Wall Tunnels which was the part of the wall that was exposed during Jesus's time....its actually the closest you can get to where the Holy of Holies was. I of course, opted out since it was a llooooonng time of being underground in tight spaces. John Byron, took me around, since he had been through before. He used to live in the Old City so we went and saw his old apartment and where he used to buy groceries....deodarant was 8 bucks!!!! We also stopped and got bagels and coffee from a local store....SOOO GOOD...the butter for the bagel cost almost as much as the bagel itself!! Then he took me back through the muslim quarter to the Damascas gate and we revisited the Villa Dolo Rosa and spent some time going through the church of the flagellation and condemnation....WONDERFUL...>THANKS JOHN!!!!!
Adam liked the tunnels...he got to see the largest stone ever quarried, 5000 tons and models of the old Temple Mount.
Afterwards our whole group headed to Yad Va Shem..the Israel Holocaust Musuem. We werent' allowed to take pictures but it was wonderful. Its shaped like a knife that cuts into a hill to symbolize how the holocaust cut into humanity. Many jews living in Israel have survivors in thier family and donate tons of things to the musuem...its very touching and emtional to see Jewish men walk through the musuem with thier children all wearing the head covering. We only had 1.5 hours inside but I could have stayed all day.
Next we headed to the Jewish quarter for lunch and Adam and I headed staright to Shabbans.....we ate SPICY FALAFFEL that day and it was SOOO GOOD!! We were amazed at our self for getting around the Old City without getting lost....we kinda orient everything around the Holy Sepulcre.
Next we head to the Archeaological Park on the Southern tip of the Western Wall where they have been excavating for quite some time. They have found Robinson's arch which was an old arch that come off the western wall and at the base covered several shops. These shops have evidence of being money changing shops and places where people could buy thier sacrifices before entering the Temple Mount. THere is also a micfah where people could bath before going up to offer sacrifices. The corner of the trumpeters tower was also found in the excavations which had an inscription identifiying it as the place where the trumpeter would sound to let the city know that the sabbath had started.
We also visited the Holda gates on the Southern wall where the triple aches ( which are filled in now ) used to be the most used entrance to the Temple Mount and the double arches were the most likely used exit gates. Mary and Joesph more then likely went through these gates as they came to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices about a month after Christ was born. The steps up to the Holda gates were built in a rhythem by Herod ( another way to suck up the Jews ) so that as they walked they could sing the 23rd Psalm.
Finally we headed back to Neve Shalom for dinner and to our last Church service. John Byron spoke on how we don't need to strive to answer all of the biblical questions with archeaology....it will never happen....but we need to have faith that God will answer everything in his own time and we are to obey and believe his WORD!!!!!

Pictures from last week of digging and last weekened

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