Thursday, March 12, 2009

Israel Pictures, Take 5

Day 5: Walked down the Mt. of Olives to the Garden of Gethsemane and the Cemetery overlooking the tombs of the prophets; Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem; Via Dolorosa; Upper Room and the tomb of King David; Wailing (Western) Wall;  Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Catholic); Pools of Bethesda; Shopping at Ben Yehuda street at the end of the Sabbath.

 

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This is the view of the Jordan Valley from the top of Mt. Scopus.  The Mt. of Olives sort of has two peaks.  They used to be known collectively as the Mt. of Olives.  Now they are separate – the Mt. of Olives and Mt. Scopus.

 

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This is the view of the Dome of Rock, which sits upon the Temple Mount, from Mt. Scopus.

 

PICT0229This is an Aloe Vera plant.  It was huge!  It had to be at least three feet tall.  I took this one for you, Mom.

 

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This is the Eastern Gate.  The Muslims have walled it up, and put a graveyard on the other side.  They think that the graveyard will stop Jesus from returning through the Eastern Gate as prophesied because He would defile Himself with the graveyard.

 

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This is an olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It is believed to be 2,000 years old.  It is hallow in the trunk, so it is impossible to determine it’s exact age.  (Actually, they store the gardening tools in the trunk of this tree).  It still produces olives!

Funny note.  Shimon, our guide, told us that we can’t know exactly how old this tree is.  As we passed by, I heard the guide from another group saying (in his Israeli accent), “This tree is believed to be 2,000 years old. I personally can tell you that it is exactly two thousand and twenty years old!”  I wonder how he knew that…

 

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This is the cemetery where many of the prophets are believed to be buried.  Men who have served in the temple are also buried here.  It looks directly to the Temple Mount, and it is on the same level as the Temple Mount (there is a valley in between).  Shimon told us that to be buried here, overlooking the temple mount, you will pay at least $300,000! 

The cave with the pillars in front is the burial place of a family who served in the first temple (Solomon’s temple).  The square monument to its left with the pointed roof is the grave of the prophet Zechariah.  (It’s a monument to him at least.  We don’t know if his bones are actually there).  There was another monument, not in my picture, which is the grave of Absalom, King’s David’s son.

 

PICT0245 This is the Zion Gate.  We walked through it to begin our trek on the Via Dolorosa.  Can you see the bullet holes in the stone all around it?  They are from the 1967 war.

 

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These are the ruins of the wall that surrounded the First Temple.  Most of the ruins and walls that we saw were from the Second Temple period.

 

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These are the Pools of Bethesda where the animals for the sacrifices were washed and prepared before entering the temple.

 

At the end of the night ten of us took taxis to a shopping street call Ben Yehuda street.  We were told that it was very lively at the end of the Sabbath.  Many of the souvenir stores were open, but the others remained closed.  There was a lively group singing and dancing in one part.  We took a vote as to whether we should walk back, or pay for the taxis again.  Everyone voted to walk and save the money, except Andrew Hemingway and John Neiner.  It had rained off and on all day, but it wasn’t raining now, so why not walk to the hotel?  It wasn’t far.  Just as we began our journey, the heavens let loose.  We trudged all the way home in the pouring rain.  Andrew had the map, so he led the way.  I was impressed that he stopped three times to ask for directions and make sure we were headed the right direction.  When we arrived at our hotel, the concierge laughed at us because we had walked in the rain. 

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