Temple, Tunnel, and Palace
What a great first day it was in Jerusalem! It's quite a stark contrast from the barrenness of the desert and the fertileness of galilee to the hustle and bustle of the city.
We began our day at the Temple Mount and at the Dome of the Rock. After we visited the Dome of the Rock we went to the Western Wall (or the wailing wall) where the Jews pray. We even got to be apart of the praying. Guys and girls have to be separate but we were able to go to the wall, pray and watch the culture and rituals of the Jewish tradition unfold. It was an incredible experience to be a part of their traditions. We also walked around the city of David and what remains of Herod's temple. It was so cool to walk around where Jesus taught and to see just how vast and magnificent the temple is today and we can only imagine how it must have been 2000 years ago.
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.
We also walked through Hezekiah's tunnel. This tunnel was chiseled in order to protect the water supply to the city during the attack of the Assyrians. It was 533m of water tunnel (yes it was very much so a tunnel and majority of us had to walk hunched over but no one had a claustrophobic panic attack, so that's good!).
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.
After lunch we went to Herodium, Herod's other stronghold/palace/burial cite (yes, he had 3 personal major structures, not including the Temple Mount). Herod literally built a mountain in order to create Herodium because he wanted to see everything and to be seen by everyone.
Herodium is 3 miles southeast of Bethlehem and 8 miles south of Jerusalem. Its summit is 2,460 feet above sea level.
Herod built or re-built eleven fortresses. This one he constructed on the location of his victory over Antigonus in 40 BC.
We only have one more day left in the Holy Land and we can't believe how fast the time has gone and how much we've learned. We ask for prayers as we finish out our time and for safe travels on our way home. We also ask that you pray for each of us that we'll be able to process all that we've seen and learned that we'll be able use what we've learned in order to advance the kingdom of God.
Thanks for taking the time to read the blog and sadly we could only fit a brief overview of what we did and pictures hardly do what we've seen justice. So I know I can speak for all of us that we would love to personally share stories of what we saw and testimonies of what God has been teaching all of us once we get back.
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