Day 09 - City Of David : City of David, Hezekiah's Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Yad Vashem
Shalom, once again, from Jerusalem! We spent our morning in the City of David. The City of David refers to a hill south of the Temple Mount where the original inhabits of Jerusalem lived. When David conquered the Jebusites around a thousand years before the birth of Jesus, this is where he settled, built his palace, and set up the tabernacle.
It’s the setting, then, for the story of David and Bathsheba.
The text tells us that, “at the time when kings go out to war” (2 Samuel 11:1, NIV), David sent out the entire Israel army, but he stayed behind in Jerusalem. We don’t know for certain why he stayed behind. It could be that his men had encouraged him to do so out of fear he’d be killed in battle, as they had on another occasion. It could be that he was worn out from years of battle and decided to trust Joab with leadership while he recovered. We don’t know.
What we do know is, one day, while walking on the roof of his palace he spotted a woman bathing. The text tells us that she was performing her monthly cleansing ritual following her menstruation. That ends up being important because it means that she wasn’t pregnant when David sent for her.
Anyways, David was captivated by her beauty, sent one of his servants to retrieve her, and then brought her into his bed. She soon became pregnant and sent word to David. This would have been a complicated situation on it’s own, but it gets more complicated. Bathsheba was married to one of David’s most loyal and capable soldiers - Uriah.
David first calls Uriah back from the battlefield and tries to entice him to home and sleep with his wife so the child looks to be his. Uriah, though, has to much honor to enjoy the comforts of home while his comrades are out fighting. So, David sends Uriah back and gives instruction to Joab.
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.” (2 Samuel 11:14-15, NIV)
David starts with adultery, tries to hide his adultery with deception and, when that doesn’t work, resorts to murder.
That’s so often how sin goes, doesn’t it? We disobey God and, rather than repent, look for a way to hide our disobedience with more disobedience. We dig ourselves deeper and deeper in and move farther and farther away from our Father.
I think this is why the book of Proverbs implores us: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)
Everything we do flows out our character – who we are. If that is so, no wonder it says, “above all else.” What could possibly be more important?
Then then ventured down into the water system of the ancient Israelites. In 1967, a British archaeologist named Charles Warren discovered a deep vertical shaft near the Gihon spring – the primary source of water for the ancient city of Jerusalem. Warren’s discovery led to further excavation and, eventually, what has become known as Hezekiah’s tunnel was found.
The Bible tells us that while Israel was preparing the Assyrian king Sennacherib to lay siege to Jerusalem, Hezekiah found a way to divert the water of the Gihon spring.
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. (2 Chronicles 32:30, NIV)
About half of our crew enjoyed the incredible experience of wading through the tunnel, which is quite cold even in the summer and, in places, gets about thigh-high.
The tunnel spills out near the Pool of Siloam – the location of one of Jesus’ miraculous healing.
Just after a rather heated exchange with the Pharisees and religious leaders, Jesus came upon a man born blind. The nature of the encounter with the Pharisees concerned Jesus’ claim to be “the light of the world.” They, of course, rejected that him as such.
So, Jesus used this blind man as a metaphor. His physical blindness would illustrate their spiritual blindness.
Jesus slaps a bit of mud and saliva on the man’s eyes and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. When he returns, his sight has been restored. What follows is a series of interrogations. First the man’s neighbors grill him about what happened. Then they bring him before the Pharisees. Then they’d drag in his parents. With each interrogation, the man is stick to the truth. In essence he says, “I don’t know much about him and I don’t know how he did it. Here’s what I know. When I woke up this morning, I was blind. Now, I can see.”
Jesus, the light of the world, brought sight to this man who had lived in darkness since birth. The physical sight provided in this miraculous healing almost pales in comparison to the spiritual sight that Jesus offers.
At the moment of our salvation, we go from death to life, from darkness into light. Yet the darkness still tries to cling on, doesn’t it?
The process of sanctification – growing and maturing in our relationship with Jesus – is one in which we invite the light of truth to shine into every crevice of our lives. We ended our time at the pool reflecting on those places we really Jesus would rather not touch. Light is exposing. It’s vulnerable. But it’s the only place the “abundant life” Jesus promised can be found.
We left Siloam and enjoyed lunch in a beautiful little park before moving onto Yad Vashem.
Yad Vashem is the Holocaust museum situated on a hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem. It’s heartbreaking and powerful and sobering. I’ve never made it through Yad Vashem without tearing up at the brokenness in our world. It leaves me mourning at the unnecessary pain and loss experienced by millions of Jewish families – pain and loss that still has a ripple effect to this very day.
Our last stop was the Israel Museum. The Israel Museum is the largest museum in Israel and houses a sprawling collection of art and archaeology.
It is best known, though, for the Shrine of the Book – a room dedicated to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The book of the Shrine tells the history of the discovery, the unfolding story of archaeological excavation, and had on display many of the manuscripts and fragments.
The archaeological wing contains many of the most important biblical finds, such as the first stone inscription referring to King David, another referring to Pontus Pilate as the Roman governor during the time of Jesus, an ossuary (burial box) identifying it as belonging to the high priest Caiaphas, and an amulet dating to the 6th or 7th century BC inscribed with the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:22-27).
You could spent hours, even days, exploring the museum, though we only had time to hit the highlights.
We are headed back to the hotel for an early night of sleep.
Tomorrow, we end our trip in Jerusalem, following Jesus through His final days.
God has done incredible things on this trip and we can’t wait to see what He does as we prepare to return home.