Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Eiffel Tower

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Israel 2016, Day 6

There are a number of ways to translate "Jerusalem". One of them must surely be, "City of Too Many Steps". There are an incredible number of steps in Jerusalem...and it seems all of them are up! I don't know hoe they do it. But, you can climb steps for hours. When you get to the top, the only thing there is another flight of stairs. It's like living in an Eischer nightmare. 

Here's the problem. Our hotel is at the top of the Western Hill. Most of the site are either on the Western Hill or the Eastern Hill. Remember all those valleys? Well, to get from one side of the city to the other, you have to descend into those valleys and then rise to the next hill. Vehicles have limited access so your best bet is to walk. All the hills and valleys mean...steps.

We started the day by...ahem...climbing up to a rooftop overlook of the city. If you look closely at the picture, you can get an idea of how compact Israel is. Jerusalem is about half way between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan. That faint blue line to the right and at the base of the antenna in the photo is Jordan, known in the Bible as the Transjordan (the other side of the Jordan) and/or Moab. 



After walking down the steps to the rooftop, we visited a few museums in the Jewish Quarter. Both of them focused on the siege and burning of the city by the Romans in 70 AD.

The first one was called "The  Burnt House Museum". It displayed the foundation and remains of a priest's house that was located in one of the upper class neighborhoods near the Temple.  This museum featured a very well done film depicting the Katros family, who was suffering the tension between the father, a priest who represented the established Jewish religious leaders, who were thing to cooperate with the Romans and his son, one of the Zealots, who were resisting them. The film ends with the destruction of Jerusalem as related by the son, the only member of the family who survives the siege. 



Th second museum was "The Herodian Quarter" which displayed the remarkably well-preserved ruins of a priestly mansion in the same neighborhood as the Katros family featured in the Burnt Museum.

The house was huge, lavishly equipped and beautifully decorated with stoneware, not clay, pots and utensils, mosaics, walk in baths, cisterns and a mikvah. 


The main level of a very large, luxurious home
A variety of oil lamps. The ones to the left would have been antiques to the residents of the house
Huge and deep cistern
This house, like the one depicted in the Burnt House Museum, would have been burnt down during the siege and the family killed. 

Our next stop was at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park at the base of the Temple mount. Of course....



There are exactly 300 steps going down to the Temple Mount, one of our younger ladies counted them. When she made the announcement upon returning to the top, everyone who could breathe thought it was funny. 


Brian, "Are you sure it was 300?" Aaron, "Yes, I can feel each one."
As we passed the entrance to the Western Wall, there was a bar-mitzvah being celebrated. 

The Archaeological Park is rich in displays and ruins that date as far back as Solomon. These are some of the rubble that resulted form the Roman siege when they destroyed everything on the Temple Mount and pushed the fallen and burned building off the edge of the Mount.

 The roads around the base of the Mount were crushed by the falling debris.

Steps were not always for walking. Sometimes...

Much of what can be seen at the base of the Southwestern Wall was added by the Ottomans. 



There's a modern training center for rabbis on the grounds...up some steps. 



The Southern...steps...to the Temple over look the City of David below and the Mount of Olives to the East.







Our group gathered on the steps. While Dr. G. read from Psalm 122, a psalm of ascent. He would read a line, we would say, "Amen!" and take a step up toward the Temple Mount. Take a look at the Psalm. Imagine you are about to enter the Temple, singing a hymn about coming to worship. It's powerful!



As we were leaving the Temple Mount, there was a celebration, "The March of the Living" at the Western Wall. he "March of the Living" is an event during the Israeli Memorial Day festivities that is designed to teach high school students about the Holocaust by bringing survivors and those who have visited concentration camps in as guests and speakers.





Then it was back up the stairs for a break. We're all learning to sit down whenever we're not going up and down stairs. 



Our break was in the square where a large synagogue is located. 






Our last stop for the day was Hezekiah's Tunnel in the City of David. Built in three years and over 1500 feet long, this water tunnel was built by King Hezekiah to help fortify Jerusalem against an Assyrian siege. It is a truly remarkable feat of engineering that can be walked through today. The tunnel ends at the Pool of Siloam, where  Jesus healed the blind man's eyes (John 9). 


The exit from the water tunnel

The exit leads to a platfrom in front of the pool


The Pool of Siloam
I didn't go through on this trip even though it is an amazing experience. Instead, I thought it might be interesting to go to the end and get some pictures. I was surprised to find that some of the locals use the pool for recreation. 




After the group made their way through the tunnel, we all made out way back to the hotel where we had dinner, which was...down the steps to the dining hall.  

1 comment:

  1. Good thing you bought a good pair of walking shoes before you left. You'll be fit as a fiddle by the time you return. You know, many trainers send their athletes out to run steps as part of their fitness routines? Perhaps the steps were part of the city's defense plan.

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