Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Israel 2016, Day 10

As we continue to struggle a bit with connectivity issues, the group has been on the move! Our last day in Jerusalem was a "free day" (read "recovery for legs, knees and feet day") but we still manage to get in a few sites. 

Early in the morning, we visited the Western Tunnels. These tunnels were formed when the city began to expand and arches were built  to span the area between the Temple Mount and the Western Hill creating a large platform on which buildings could be built. Homes and shops were built on the platform. The area beneath the platform became the tunnels.

The tunnels run parallel to the Western Wall with the Wall as the eastern wall on the tunnels. In the pic below, the Western Wall is on the right.  

When the site was excavated, they found some huge stones near the base of the walls. This one is the largest. It's over 30 feet long and weighs nearly 57 tons. There is much speculation on how it was moved and put into place. 

The remains of some of the original buildings can still be seen.
Passages can get narrow. The beveling around the edges of the stones indicate they are from the Herodian era. 
After the tunnels, we went up on the Temple Mount. The Mount is dominated by two Islamic structures, the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The mosque is a fully functioning Muslim mosque. The Dome of the Rock was built over the rock that Muslim tradition says is the spot where Muhammad, on his horse, ascended into heaven. 

Administrative offices near the Temple Mount

Temporary entrance way onto the Mount
The Western Wall area can be seen from the walkway. 
Architecture on the mount is primarily from the Ottoman period. The Romans destroyed everything from Jesus's time in 70 AD.
Our lades dressed modestly for the visit but not enough for the Muslims. They escorted us over to a  few "vendors" that were able to help them out for 25 shekels a piece.  
No one in the group was immune to their scrutiny. Apparently Aaron had a little too much calf showing. 
The Dome of the Rock, a sacred site for Islam
The Golden Gate (Eastern Gate) form the inside. 
There are a wide variety of visitors to the Mount.
Some believe this cupola sits over the area where the Holy of Holies was.
On out way out, this Muslim gentleman gently engaged Dr. G saying, "We all believe the same thing, read the same Bible. When Abraham was alive, he was the only way. When Moses was alive, he was the only way. When Jesus was alive, He was the only way.  When Muhammad was alive, he was the only way. They are all the only way!"
The Al Aqsa Mosque
Security is strict. Orthodox Jews are forbidden to come up onto the Temple Mount by the rabbis. Still, sometimes they sneak up. There are two Hasidic Jews surrounded by guards and being ushered off the Mount. 
Some may find it a little disturbing that such a holy place would be so disputed and fussed over. I believe God has allowed it to happen for a specific purpose. You have to look no farther than the way some other relics are viewed to see that any authenticated evidence of Christ, His crucifixion, His burial and His resurrection would remove the faith factor in believing in Him. Furthermore, men and women have a strong inclination to worship the trappings of their religion rather than the object of it, God. 

I love being able to walk up on the Mount and to walk the streets and paths Jesus walked. But my faith should never be in that Mount or those streets. It is in the One who walked them Himself...and His word.

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