Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Israel and Jordan with my wife. Over the next few weeks, I would like to relate some of the things from the trip on this page. So, if you will indulge me, I would like to share some things from my journal of the trip.
Wednesday Sept. 5, 2018
It has been a full, exhausting day but the sites have been amazing. First on the agenda - an Israeli market place in Jerusalem. The sounds and aromas are memorable. There is whole fish on ice or they will cut some for you. Yes, the fist market is one of the memorable aromas. There are spices, fresh fruits, candy (much like candy you might find in the States) sold in bulk, pastries, coffee shops, fresh vegetables, clothing, rugs, fabric, whatever you can think of. There is even the occasional beggar and a place to buy a lottery ticket. As soon as vegetables or fruits are bought, they are replaced to make the bins look full. Our guide says the mindset is that there should always be an abundance, never the thought of a shortage.
From there a drive to Mt. Scopus on the north side of Jerusalem - Hebrew University is located there. On the way we pass by a British cemetery - it is those who died from England, New Zealand and Australia during World War 1.
We stop on the Mount of Olives. From there, looking across the Kidron Valley, you can see the old city of Jerusalem. The gold dome, known as the Dome of the Rock, sits on the Temple mount. The Dome of the Rock is a mosque or Muslim memorial. Only Muslims are allowed in there. From this view you can see the Eastern Gate, a gate which is closed/sealed and has a Muslim cemetery in front of it. The thought is the Messiah won't be able to enter through a cemetery lest He become unclean.
Below us is Jewish cemetery. Several religious Jews were visiting a gravesite, I assume for a relative or ancestor. After praying, they place a rock on the tomb. On the near side of the valley and to the left is a Russian Orthodox church. It's gold domed spires, typical of Russian architecture, gleam in the morning sun.
One other note before continuing on the journey - drivers in Israel definitely know how to use the horn. It is a wonder we have not seen an accident up to this point.
From the Mt. of Olives, we proceed to the Garden of Gethsemane and the church that is there. The garden is filled with olive trees, one believed to be 800 years old. Gethsemane means 'olive press.' The altar inside the church is believed to be the rock where Jesus agonized before His arrest. This place is the most moving for me up to this point. I stand at the rock with tears coming from my eyes. I think of His agony and the reason He is going to the cross.
From there we proceed to the place believed to be where Mary, the mother of Jesus, died. Then to the room believed to be the Upper Room where Jesus had His last Passover with the disciples. Then quickly downstairs to the traditional burial place of David. It is a sarcophagus in a synagogue. Being a synagogue, men and women are separated. Of course, no one knows if it is really King David inside. God doesn't tell us where these people are buried lest men and women idolize the site rather than worship God.
After lunch, it is through the Lion's Gate on our way to the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. The holes around the gate are actually bullet holes from 1948 and 1967.
The Wailing Wall is also a holy place of prayer, like a synagogue, so the men and women pray separately. The site is extremely secure. You must pass through metal detectors and bags are x-rayed. There is a visible presence of police and IDF (Israeli Defense Force). The men are required to pray and have a much larger area to pray at the wall than do the women.
From the Wailing wall it is on to the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem on our way to the Via Dolorosa. The way is lined with shops. We make our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The site of the traditional tomb is shared by 3 churches - Catholic, Arminian, Greek Orthodox. The line to get in through the Catholic side is very long. Our guide takes us to the Arminian side which is much shorter. We can briefly look in the tomb. The other line would have taken more than an hour. Outside, before we went in, as our guide is explaining the site, the Muslim call to prayer was heard through speakers right above us.
As I said the day has been exhausting as well as exciting. All in all, according to my phone, we walked 4 miles today. Can't wait to see what is in store for tomorrow.