This was an amazing day for me. I got to walk on the Temple Mound. I was so close to where the Holy of Holies would have been. It was such an amazing feeling. Even though the Dome of the Rock is sitting there now you still get the feel for the hugeness of it. Something to keep in mind as you look at all the pictures. The Dome of the Rock is shorter than the Temple would have been. You can pretty much see the Dome of the Rock from most places in the city. Just imagine how much better you could see Temple!
Jan 17 7:22 AM
We are all getting on the bus getting ready for the day. I had french toast and orange juice for breakfast. Their orange juice is absolutely fabulous. It is not like the juice in the states. I can drink and drink it and it does not irritate my stomach at all. The juice in the states irritates my stomach.
We are heading to the old city today. We will be walking the Via Delarosa. I think we will be going to the Dome of the Rock too.
We just got back to the hotel a little bit ago. It has been one amazing crazy day. Now my knees and back are hurting. I have looked at the pictures from my Kodak. Wow. Just one crazy amazing day.
We started with the temple mound or now the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is built on the King Herod platform. The Muslims have built two Mosques on the top. The Al Axa Mosque is over the gates that the Jews would have entered the Temple Mound through, I think, the southern side. The other is the most famous. The Dome of the Rock.
I walked up there a was in awe. I could actually imagine that instead of the Dome of the Rock was this magnificent Temple. It was there for the worship of Jehovah. It was an amazing thing to stand there on the paving that Jesus may have walked on.
As I walked across the area where the Dome of the Rock sat I was praying and praising God. It was not necessarily in defiance but I did feel some of that in my own spirit. I was doing it with a sense of joy and thankfulness. I was joyful and thankful because of what Christ had done. It hit me again that we did not need the Temple. We do not need an animal sacrifice. We are free from the law. It was an awesome experience. Something that I can’t believe I was doing. Me a Christian a believer in Christ standing there praying and singing to Him on the Temple mound and in front of the Dome of the Rock.
From the Temple mound, we headed to the Pool of Bethsaida. That is where Jesus healed the man that had been lame for 36 years. It is also where they build a chapel to Mary’s parents. The chapel was beautiful and had amazing acoustics. We got to sing in there led by Mrs. Debby. Absolutely fabulous.
From there we started walking the Via Dolorosa. Honestly, I was not all that impressed with it. I think some people got a spiritual benefit from it but really for me, it was just a walking tour of the old city.
The neat part was when we were walking through the markets. That was really cool. It was like their mall. They sell everything from spices to underwear. All their food they were selling was just out in the open. It kind of reminded me of the Bazaars in Ukraine.
The thing I see them selling the most of is scarves. As an American, I don’t see many ladies wearing scarfs back home. Here almost all the women wear a scarf in some shape and fashion. Some wear it because their religion dictates that they do. Some wear it because it is cold over here right now. The tourists buy them because they are pretty, relatively cheep, and this week and time of year we are all cold.
The last church we went into was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This was a very interesting church. I have found that in many of the holy sites the churches are divided into several different branches. The parts were made up of Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Armenian, and I think one other group. They all have their own portions that they have their services in.
Once you enter you make a right and go up a very steep stair case. At the top, we stood in a line for about 45 minutes before we could get to the rock where tradition says that the Crucifixion took place. Under an alter, there is a round gold plated place with a hole in the middle. I stuck my hand in the hole to feel the rock. It was very slick from years of Pilgrims touching it.
One of the reasons we stood in line so long was because we were behind a group of Catholic pilgrims. I stood and watched them for awhile. They would kneel under the alter and kiss the gold circle then put their hand in the hole. When they stood up they would say a prayer and cross themselves. It was something that you could not hurry. It would have been rude and irreverent.
During the wait, I was examining one of the beautiful mosaics of the Crucifixion. There was a dear old Catholic lady standing in a dark corner uttering prayers and lighting a candle. I could see she was reaching up and touching the mosaic. At first, I thought she was just reaching to just simply touch the whole mosaic. Then I moved to the left a little and was touched by the sight. She was reaching up and touching the nail-scarred hands of Christ as depicted in the mosaic. I wanted to cry. That little lady was so dedicated and yet so lost. She would not smile. There was no joy in her prayers.
After we were done we walked down the steep steps on the other side and visited another shrine within the walls of the same church. It was a shrine that surrounded the rock that was supposed to be the place of the burial of Jesus.
Hannah took our group to a small back room that was in need of much care. It was a burned out hole. The church had burned in 1808 and this area had not be remodeled. Inside it was an opening to a tomb that would have been like what Jesus was laid in.
From there we walked around to the rock quarry. It was a quarry that dated back to the time of Jesus. Down the steps in the bottom of the quarry was a supposed piece of the cross of Jesus. As Hannah pointed out if all the pieces of the cross were put together that would be one amazingly big cross.
Heading back out I noticed in front of the main entrance there were pilgrims kneeling on the floor saying prayers around one area. Then I looked closer and saw it was a slab of rock. The Pilgrims were also placing different items on the stone. The stone is called the Stone of Unction. It is the supposed place where Joseph of Arimathea prepared the body of Jesus for the tomb. I am not sure why the Pilgrims were placing items on it.
We had lunch at a little café. Once again I had a Falafel. It was very good. I did notice as I was sitting there that the folks in the kitchen were not using gloves. Pretty sure that did not make me have warm fuzzies about eating there. I guess that is part of the adventure. I also noticed that like in the Ukraine as we walked through the market none of the food stalls had the food covered. It was all just laid out in the open. From spices to candy to meet. Yeah, that made me a little queazy.
After lunch, we had about 45 minutes to wander around the market. I wanted to barter so I got me a scarf. I could have gotten it cheaper but I did not go down low enough to start with. Well, live and learn. I know for the next time I am here.
The last stop we made was the Wailing Wall. It was a very special experience for me. It was just amazing to be standing there where people have prayed for generations. The cracks in the wall are stuffed with the prayers of people from all over the world. Some of the people in my group had prayers to put in them. I went down to the wall in the women’s area and prayed with my hand touching the wall. I prayed for blessings to be with friends and family. I also rededicated my life to the Lord. I was tearing up. Surly the presence of the Lord was in that place.
I know God is every where but there are some places that He just feels closer. Those places are the quiet places of the world. When the Gods spirit comes down and visits His people.
Tomorrow we head to Masada, the Dead Sea, and Jericho.