Jerusalem and Bethlehem
Our first full day in Jerusalem! We had a busy day today, beginning with a visit to the area around the Temple Mount, also known as Mount Moriah. This is the place God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Issac. King David purchased this land from a Jebusite, 3000 years ago. But it wasn’t until King Solomon reigned that the temple was built. It was destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. The temple was re-built by Zerubbabel and later enhanced by Herod. But again, it was destroyed, this time by the Romans in 70 AD.
Today, the Temple Mount is occupied by the Muslims because they thought it was a holy spot believing that the prophet Mohammad ascended into heaven there, even though there is no mention of Jerusalem in the Koran.
We had the opportunity to tour the tunnels under the Temple Mount. It was educational learning about the layers upon layers of generations that had built on top of each other. One interesting thing we found out was that one stone weighed 570 tons (jokingly named Albert by Ronin).
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.
We also toured another one of King Herod’s magnificent castles, the Herodium. Herod built it as a government and administrative center, leaving Jerusalem as a religious center. The castle is built on top of a cone shaped mountain. We saw the palace which included a swimming pool and underground tunnels. Herod’s tomb was also found.
We stopped for lunch and shopping in Bethlehem. We were leaving but couldn’t get out because a small car was parked too close so a group of men came out and moved it out of the way! I mean they literally picked up the car and moved it. Our next stop was the Church of the Nativity marking the spot they believe Christ was born.
Before returning to our hotel. Meir drove us past our American Embassy now rightly established in Jerusalem.
Written by Michelle Ware with contributions by Joan Hull
Biblical scholars believe Bethlehem, located in the "hill country" of Judah, may be the same as the Biblical Ephrath which means "fertile", as there is a reference to it in the Book of Micah as Bethlehem Ephratah. The Bible also calls it Beth-Lehem Judah,and the New Testament describes it as the "City of David". It is first mentioned in the Bible as the place where the matriarch Rachel died and was buried "by the wayside" (Gen. 48:7). Rachel's Tomb, the traditional grave site, stands at the entrance to Bethlehem. According to the Book of Ruth, the valley to the east is where Ruth of Moab gleaned the fields and returned to town with Naomi. It was the home of Jesse, father of King David of Israel, and the site of David's anointment by the prophet Samuel. It was from the well of Bethlehem that three of his warriors brought him water when he was hiding in the cave of Adullam.
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