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Israel Study Tour with North Coast Church

January 18-27, 2016

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Today we spent the entire day exploring the city of Jerusalem. We started by entering the Muslim controlled Dome of the Rock area on top of the city. This is where the temple would have stood thousands of years ago. We also toured the western wall and the many tunnels beneath the city. Even to this day, this is the closest Jewish people can get to the Holy of Holies in the ruins of the temple. Because the current city is built on multiple older cities, the first century city during the time of Jesus is close to 50 feet below the current streets. We were able to see how many centuries of growth and expansion truly buried the past.

Rabbinic Tunnels

The tour of the western wall tunnels is one of the most popular tourist sites in Jerusalem. These underground tunnels connect the western wall prayer area to the north-west side of the temple mount, passing along the side of the temple mount and under the present day houses in the Old City. Along its path are remains from the second temple period, as well as structures from later periods.

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We also had the opportunity to walk through Hezekiah's tunnel. This tunnel was dug during the Assyrian invasion during his rule. Because the only source of water for the city was outside of the city walls, Hezekiah ordered a tunnel to be dug underground to feed into the city.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

A 1750-foot (530m) tunnel carved during the reign of Hezekiah to bring water from one side of the city to the other, Hezekiah’s Tunnel together with the 6th c. tunnel of Euphalios in Greece are considered the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period. Had it followed a straight line, the length would have been 1070 ft (335m) or 40% shorter.

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We also visited the mount of olives where Jesus spent time with his disciples and also to the estimated location of the garden of Gethsemane.

Finally, we walked from the garden into the city through the lion's gate near where Jesus would have entered the city. After a quick visit to the pool of Bethesda, we saw the place that is thought to be where Jesus was tried and began his final walk through the city. Though the city has changed over the many years, scholars have estimated Jesus' final path through the city to the hill of Golgotha. We walked this path to where Jesus was crucified and buried. It was incredible to be walking the same streets Jesus had walked nearly 2000 years ago!!

Western Wall

The Western Wall is the most holy place accessible to the Jewish people because of Muslim control of the Temple Mount. Known in recent centuries as the “Wailing Wall,” this was built by Herod the Great as the retaining wall of the Temple Mount complex. The plaza was created as an area for prayer when Israel captured the Old City in 1967. At times tens of thousands of people gather here for prayer.

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