Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Israel Pictures, Take 8

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to get the last of the Israel pictures posted.  I was gone last week to attend the 20th Anniversary Bible Conference at Ambassador Baptist College, and I was sick before that.


Our last day in Israel was not as busy.  We went to the Davidson Center which is a museum on the Southern side of the Temple Mount.  We explored the southern side of the temple wall and saw the Hulda Gates and ritual baths through which people would have passed to get to the Temple.  We went to an outdoor market, and then had some time to pack before our visit to the Garden Tomb.  After our last dinner at the hotel we went to the airport and the rest is history!



This is Ben and I next to the Temple Wall.  You can see how large the stones are that were used to construct the wall.  The we are standing in front of is called a Herod Stone because King Herod had all the edges of the stones beveled.



This view looks over the southern side of Jerusalem.  You can see the wall that surrounds the Old City of Jerusalem.


Here I am with Ben on the city wall.  I was grateful that they had added the fence to keep me from falling!



This picture, as well as the one below, show the perspective of how large the stones are on the corner of the Temple wall.  This is the Southwest corner.  We were told that there is not a piece of heavy machinery today that can lift on of these stones.  You can see it goes the whole length of the picture – that is just one stone!  They were about 50 feet long, four feet high and six feet deep (I think?).  One possible theory on how they moved these large stones is that they rolled them on smaller stones – like a ball bearing.  The small stones could sustain the weight of the large stone.  Then, when the large stone was in place, they had only to add 100 pounds of weight and the smaller stones would be crushed beneath the corner stones.  Imagine the calculations that went into that process!




Our last tour stop in Israel was at the Garden Tomb.  What a way to end the tour!  Our guide at this location was a British gentleman who loved his job because he “gets to talk about Jesus all day long.”  He explained the process by which the Garden Tomb was discovered.  



First, they needed Golgotha – the “place of the skull.”  This rock cliff was discovered which looks like a skull.  It is not certain if this is indeed Golgotha.  It had to be outside the city wall, and near a main thoroughfare.  This cliff meets both criteria.  Secondly, the tomb needed to be near Golgotha, because Joseph of Arimathea had to go to Pilate, get an audience, Pilot sent back to verify that Jesus was dead, and then Joseph was given permission to bury the body.  The Sabbath was fast approaching, so the tomb would have had to be close to the site of the crucifixion.  We know that a large stone was rolled in front of the tomb to seal it, and that it was located within a garden.  Thirdly, for this area to have been a garden, it would have need water cisterns for the foliage.  A large water cistern was discovered.  Actually, they were looking for the cistern when they broke into the tomb.  They have also discovered a winepress on the location, making it an ideal garden.


There is a trough along the door of the tomb which could have held a great stone in place to block the door.  The disciples had to stoop down when they entered the tomb, but the door opening has been enlarged a little bit. 



When the tomb was first discovered, it appeared to be only one room – straight ahead as you entered the doorway.  Mark 16:5 says that Mary Magdalene and the other women entered the sepulchre and saw the angel sitting on the right.  Further excavation revealed a room off to the right as you enter the tomb.  Towards the back there is a stone table where the body would have been laid. You can see where they hewed out the stone a little more to allow the room needed for the feet of the body.



Here we are in front of the Empty Garden Tomb.  Our guide made it very clear that while this location seems to meet all of the Biblical criteria, it cannot be known for sure.  And it really doesn’t matter…because Jesus isn’t in the tomb anymore!  He is risen!  Perhaps God never wanted us to know the exact location so that we would worship the Son instead of the site.  It was very neat to see these things and think that perhaps this is the place where Jesus conquered death!



A door has been put in place of the stone that used to seal the tomb.  How fitting that the sign on door says, “He is not here – for He is risen!”  As I said, this was a great way to end the tour!



This is our bus driver Aria and our tour guide Shimon.  I have a new respect for bus drivers after seeing Aria manipulate our tour bus on the narrow streets of Israel!

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