Jerusalem, Centre of His Kingdom
Dad had us up bright and early on Tuesday as he was only mildly excited about the underground western wall tour he had booked us in for! It was pretty amazing and genuinely a lot less archaeologically nerdy than I had expected. We did the tour with a guide and even though I’d been down there before it was still really interesting. We saw a 600t stone lifted 16m into place using who knows what? We also saw a ramp up to the top level of the temple mount had been built by Herod as an aqueduct.
After the tour we made our way back to the Jewish quarter and went for coffee in an upstairs restaurant that I recognised as I had called mum and dad on an “internet phone” from there in 2005. While we were in the Jewish quarter we checked out the ancient Cardo (basically an old roman era Main Street) and grabbed another superb falafel from the alittle corner store opposite the Cardo, before heading outside the old city walls to Hezekiah’s tunnel.
At the start of the tunnel they think they’ve uncovered David’s palace. Walking through the tunnel that was first built by Hezekiah was unreal. Cut into solid rock it would have been such a mission! At the end of the tunnel dad was super excited to see the actual Pool of Siloam which has only been uncovered in the last couple years.
The lady running the tour was really nice but pretty funny. We had a good laugh when she got confused and thought that Argentinian’s spoke Argentinian but stated to us all that their language seems to be very similar to Spanish. Funny that.
It was about 4pm by the time we’d walked back up through an old sewerage tunnel to the entry area and grabbed an iced coffee. But our crazy day was only half done, so we mustered what little energy we had left, jumped in a cab, and headed to the Israel museum.
We all really enjoyed the Herod exhibition. He did an amazing amount of building due to time of peace when he reigned in Israel. Dad and Clare had some fun getting night time photos of the Shrine of the Book building while mum and I headed for the seats.
We walked around the Jerusalem model from Jesus day (which is my favourite thing in the entire museum) but couldn’t stay for long coz dad still wanted to get to the archeology section on ‘Israel and the Bible’ before closing time.
Clare and I wandered around too but the brain was pretty well cooked so not much sunk in so we had fun taking random photos instead. We grabbed some very light dinner on the way to our unit and crashed soon after.
Day 3 in Jerusalem was an extremely stressful morning for dad and I picking up the hire car. The guy assisting us was a massive battler and it took hours. Due to the Feast of Booths (which were being built everywhere in the city) it was a half day for Jews today so everything had to be sorted in the morning. Yay.
Once we did eventually get it sorted we drove over to the Vad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, which pretty quickly put our frustrations in perspective. Mum wasn’t real keen on seeing the place, so she grabbed a coffee while the three of us headed in. It was pretty full on. Probably more full on than any of the museums we’d seen in Europe and maybe even Dachau. The images were all pretty graphic and from a “them against the world” perspective. Even Oz got a mention, with a quote from our prime minister at the time who rejected the Israeli’s request to send refugees; “We don’t have any racial problems in Australia and we don’t want to import one”. Yeah right.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/2-policemen-injured-by-stone-throwers-on-temple-mount/ There had been a riot on the temple mount not long before we arrived in the early afternoon. There were police everywhere and the guards were being pretty aggressive with everyone who was still hoping to get up there. Taking people’s books, stopping others for having shorts and not pants. Clare was pretty devo when we did eventually get up there and we weren’t allowed anywhere near the Dome of the Rock. In fact all we could do was walk along the western edge of the mount. There were around 150 heavily armed soldiers standing around making sure you didn’t get past them. It was pretty frustrating, no one would tell you why we were restricted and you could only glimpse the dome of the rock. It’s such a strange situation, the Israelis holding control of Jerusalem, yet the Dome of the Rock sits on the holiest area in the world for the Jews. The Jew’s aren’t allowed up there and when too many of them do go up the Muslim’s riot and throw stones at them. The Israelis guard the Temple Mount, but it is easier for them to stop other Israelis coming up than try and control the hundreds of Muslims at the mosques. Definitely makes you wonder if the “times of the Gentiles” from Luke 21:24 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=luke%2021&version=NASB) have really been fulfilled?
Feeling a bit frustrated and dejected we grabbed a late lunch at a little cafe in the Jewish qtr, then bought some pictures and wandered home. Mum and dad went to find Caiaphas’ house, which we had tried to find previously, and failed, but we headed home to nap.
We had a beautiful evening up at the Notre Dame roof terrace restaurant with a Middle Eastern cheese platter, red wine and a really nice Tehbah beer. All of which were our helpful Arab waiter’s recommendation. The view was fantastic out over the city. We could even make out the Dome lit up by the moon!
After dinner we drove through the city and got slightly lost down a very narrow street but eventually found Haas Promenade. From there we drove up the Mount of Olives for a great night view over the Temple Mount and the city.
Clare had been bitterly disappointed at only being allowed to walk in a 10x50m paved area on the Temple Mount and hadn’t been able to let it go. So you guessed it, we were up early to try and get up the mount again. We arrived there at 9am. Very surprisingly there was no queue and we went straight up. After purchasing an ugly wrap for Clare’s inadequately covered shoulders we got to wander the whole way round the Temple Mount!! Clare was stoked! It was great to see the stairs Jesus had walked up and where the people would have been buying and selling as he drove them out.