Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Israel 2016, Day 5

It was an incredible day. We only accomplished two things. 

We walked...we learned. 

We learned a LOT. Dr. Grisanti is near-encyclopedic in his knowledge of the history and geography of Israel and is an engaging teacher/leader/guide. His twenty-one trips to Israel have given him a familiarity with Jerusalem that makes ti easy for him to get around the city...and we got around the city today!

The morning started with a briefing on the topography of Jerusalem, whose borders were defined early on by three deep valleys; the Kidron running north/south to the east, the Hinom, joining the Kidron to the south then curving north to meet with a shallower but still formidable fourth valley running east/west, and the Central (some call it the Tyropoeon Valley), running north/south right in between the Kidron and Hinom. That shallow valley, the Traverse, intersects all three of the major valleys at the northern border of the city. The ancient city sat high atop a mountain, making it difficult to attack. The valleys surrounding it made it nearly invulnerable. 

One of the reasons David established Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was that this topography.

Development began around the City of David, just to the south of what would become the Temple Mount. The walls came in three stages; the early walls around the City of David and the Temple, built by David and Solomon,  

the extensions built by Nehemiah.

and further expansion by Herod.

Today they look like this. The City OF David is no longer bounded by walls but just to the North, Jerusalem has grown considerably. 

After our briefing there was a short break. We were to reconvene in front of the hotel in 15 minutes. Anyone who showed up late would have to buy Dr. Grisanti a Magnum Bar. The ice cream bars are highly addictive. While I was assuring myself I would never have to but an ice cream bar I walked through the front door of the hotel only to find the entire group looking at me, The Dr. looking at his watch and smiling. I was the first one to have to buy the Magnum Bar which comes in a number of configurations.  Grisanti just looked at me and said, "Chocolate chocolate!"

Our first visit was to the Citadel of David (the Tower of David) which would eventually become Herod's Palace. 

The complex, also known as David' Tower is just inside the New Gate. Our teacher is convinced this is where Jesus was examined and scourged. 

Inside the museum a model of Jerusalem in the 1st Century (the Second Temple Period) can be seen.

Our next visit was to another museum located in the Jewish Quarter closer to the Temple Mount. There we listened to a fascinating lecture on Jerusalem in Nehemiah's time  (First Temple Period).

We had lunch in the square of the Jewish Quarter. I paid up on my Magnum Bar penalty. It was surprisingly cheap, I think...ten shekels, which is either about $1.50 or about $15.00. I don't quite have the exchange rate thing down yet.  

The emotional high point of the day was devotions in 1 Cor 11 in the Upper Room, our next stop and way on the other side of town.

This is the alleyway that leads to the Upper room. This building is a chapel dedicated to Mary.

Much of the ornate arches and carvings were added during the Ottoman period 

An olive vine
Re=enacting the Last Supper
Sweet time of devotions

Our next stop was down the hill, near the City of David at what some people believe was Caiaphas's house. We didn't go in. But there were spectacular views of the lower Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives.

Our increasingly wobbly legs took us back up the hill where we began to circle the Temple Mount, walking down toward the Kidron Valley below the Eastern wall, then back up, passing close by the Golden Gate. We came to the Lions Gate, near the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed the lame beggar. Structures have been erected over the site but the pools are still there at under the more recent buildings.

Our last stop of the day was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Dr. Grisanti is convinced this is the actual site of the Tomb of Christ and His crucifixion. I'm looking forward to sharing some of his reasoning when I get back. 

This is the chapel built over the crucifixion site. The rock where the crucifixion took place can be viewed and touched here.

Below, some say this is the rock where Jesus was laid after the crucifixion. For many people this is a sacred site.

We didn't go inside the tomb due to the impossibly long lines.

It was a long, fruitful day. Dinner at the hotel was a welcome relaxation. Meanwhile, the whole city is celebrating Israel's Independence Day. There is an incredibly loud concert being held in the city. The walls of the hotel are ringing with festive music and the deep vibrating sounds of bass guitar and drums. 

It's 3:30 AM, Jerusalem time....


  1. $1.50, $15.00, what's the difference (about $13.50). I hope you don't run out of funds before you come home. Enjoy the Magnum bars, but arrive earlier next time and let someone else fund the purchase.

    Sounds like an exhausting but fruitful day. Bet you slept well that night (despite the ringing concert).

  2. I am really enjoying these tours and the attention to detail is fantastic! Rest well brother:)