Israel Study Tour - Cornerstone

Jan 2-12, 2017

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Two Kings

The written summary for yesterday has been posted. Go check it out.

Today we saw the juxtaposition of two kings: King Herod the Great, the
"King of the Jews," and Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We
first went to Herod's magnificent fortress and palace complex on the
outskirts of Jerusalem, called the "Herodian." This fortress had a
commanding and impressive view overlooking the city of Jerusalem, with
Bethlehem in the distance, consisting of several palaces, and
bathhouses, and a pool. While this fortress contained some of the
architectual wonders of the day, displaying Herod's power and might,
his power was not eternal, because we saw on the side of the hill
where it is believed that Herod built his tomb. While Herod was rich
and powerful, his life and kingdom were not eternal. After visiting
the Herodian, we drove into Bethlehem to visit the Church of the
Nativity. This massive church is above the cave where tradition holds
that Jesus was born. We went down underground into a cave to see the
spot where they believe Jesus was born and the manger where Mary
placed him. This place was in contrast to the palace fortress of the
mighty Herod. Jesus was born in a small and dark cave. The humble
birth of the One who is the King of Kings ushered in an eternal
kingdom. Jesus' first coming ushered in his kingdom through his life,
death, and resurrection, and we look forward to his glorious second
coming where he will reign over a kingdom that will never end.
--Jonathan Grella

Herodium

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.

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We saw a model of what Jerusalem looked like before the destruction in 70 AD. At the time of its construction the Temple Mount was the largest religious construction in the world. It displays the rebuilt City of David, Solomons Colonnade, and the massive expansion of King Harod, including his palace and the Temple Mount. This is a conceptualized model of the city which is to scale 1/50. It is rendered based on Arab ecology and text comparison of Josephus, the Mishnah, The Bible and of course archaeology. This helps us to have a good idea as to how big the city of David was and how grand Solomon and Harods expansions were. While the model continues to be reworked to align with new findings it is the best model to view the large ancient city of Jerusalem.

The Shrine of the Book is an exhibit that displays the Dead Sea Scrolls that were found in the caves of Qumran. Beautiful display terrariums hold forth the riches uncovered in Qumran. The lobby is decorated with displays telling the chronological story of the discovery with pictures and descriptions. The hallway is lined with terrariums that hold original pots, plates, sandals and other artifacts that tell of the familial and communal life of the supposed essene community of Qumran. There are also the original jars are displayed in the hallway. These are the very jars that contained the Dead Sea Scrolls. While the lobby and hallway give insights into the Essene community, the shrine itself beautifully and magnificently displays the Isaiah scroll at the center of this conical shape. The shape of the shrine is modeled after the jar lid from the jars in which the scrolls were found. The display of the Isaiah scroll is elevated in the center of the shrine. The scroll is displayed with a large Torah scroll handle above the case to give the viewer a sense of reverence and awe. The walls of a decorated basement display the story of the Aleppo codex as well as other texts found at the caves of Qumran. The Dead Sea scrolls are probably the most significant find of ancient texts to date and this Shrine seeks to uphold their important part in human history.
--Keoni Hughes

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