Israel Study Tour with Taft Avenue Community Church

September 12-23, 2022

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Day 08 - Jerusalem: City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, Pool of Siloam, Southern Steps, Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum)

We began today in the ancient City of David, which was built to the South of what is now known as the Temple Mount. It is an archeological site showing remnants of David’s palace and giving us an idea of how the city was constructed with his palace at the top, the officers home just below, the soldier’s homes below that and then the common peoples home below that.  It was surrounded by a wall and built on top of the Gihon Spring, the city’s water source. At this site, Pastor Craig taught from 2 Samuel 11 on David and Bathsheba.

From there we descended through some tunnels and caves known as Warren’s Shaft to reach the entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel. Hezekiah was one of the good kings, remembered for cleansing the temple. But “after all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came and invaded.” (2 Chronicles 32:1) Pastor Andrew explained that faithfulness can lead to times of prosperity and peace but sometimes it is preparation for times of difficulty and suffering.

To prepare for the arrival of the king of Assyria, Hezekiah set out to divert the water so that the enemy couldn’t access it. But they were short on time, so the digging for the tunnel was started on both sides, with the hope of meeting in the middle. At the halfway point of our walk through the tunnel we reached a zig zag showing us that the two tunnels were remarkably only a few feet apart! We sloshed through the dark, narrow tunnel with the 64-degree water around our ankles and knees and sang “Amazing Grace.”

Hezekiah’s tunnel ends at the Pool of Siloam. Here, Pastor Craig taught from John 9, where Jesus heals a blind man by spitting in the dirt, rubbing the mud on his eyes, and instructs him to go wash in the Pool of Siloam. We understand from the end of John chapter 8 that Jesus was near the temple grounds. We had just walked a quarter of a mile and descended approximately 400 feet in elevation to get to this pool from the top of the hill. We pondered how the blind man with mud on his eyes could have made it so far and why Jesus might have sent him to this pool instead of another pool that would have been closer. Although we don’t know the answer, we have gained a new appreciation of this location. And Pastor Craig pointed out the ironic juxtaposition in this passage of the blind man, who never got to see Jesus yet believed in him and the Pharisees who saw Jesus yet never believed.

Next, we went to the Southwest corner of the temple retaining walls built by Herod the Great where we took a closer look at the huge cornerstone, the capstone, and the building techniques used to create a solid foundation. Archaeologists have excavated this corner down to the original street level where Jesus and others would have walked in the first century. While digging, they also found many different kinds of coins and believe that this was the location of the money changers.

From here, we headed over to the Southern Steps. These are the steps leading up to two gates along the southern wall. Pastor Craig taught from Acts 3 and explained why he believes that this area is the site from which Peter preaches to the people.

For lunch time, we stopped at a nice park and had a traditional Israeli lunch: a Jerusalem bagel with five dips: za’tar (herbs and spices) with olive oil, goat cheese with olive oil, hummus, sour cream with date honey, and Nutella. No forks, spoons or knives needed!

In the afternoon, we visited Yad Vashem. Yad means name and Vashem means memorial. Yad Vashem is a holocaust museum built to record the names of the 6 million Jews killed in the holocaust, to provide a memorial, and to record the tragic and evil history involving the Jewish people. 

By Jonie Archie

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