10/15/18 Old City

10/15/18 – We finally enter the Old City of Jerusalem though Herod’s Gate instead of the busier Damascus Gate. When St. Stephen was stoned in chapter 7 of Acts, the traditional place was either here or at the Damascus Gate, but Doron assures us it actually took place at the other gate. I believe tradition has it at the Damascus Gate, but it happened here, but I may have it backwards. I’m not clear on how they determined either one of those things, so there you go.

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10/15/18 – stepping inside to the narrow streets of Muslim Quarter of the Old City is like stepping back in time, although Doron assures us that the streets in Jesus’ day were 10-15 feet beneath these and not necessarily in the same place.

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10/15/18 – This is the pool complex of Bethesda. The pillars are the remains of a Byzantine Church built by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine. She did so after demolishing the pagan Roman temple that was built to keep the Christians away, but marked the spot for her, although here the pool marked the spot anyway. The Muslims destroyed the Byzantine church and the Crusaders put up a new one. The Mamluks destroyed that one, but the Turks allowed the French to build a new one in appreciation for helping them fight the Russians in the Crimean War in the 1850s.
10/15/18 – This is a Crusader era Church to St. Anne, the mother of St. Mary. It is claimed to be the birthplace of Mary, but this is dubious as Mary was probably born and raised in Nazareth. It is right next to the Pool of Bethesda where Jesus healed the crippled man. Bethesda was an extensive pool complex on the northern end of the city, opposite the Pool of Siloam where Jesus healed a blind man in the South part of the city, that we passed coming out of Hezekiah’s Tunnel the other day.

10/15/18 – This place goes by the name of Lithostratos. It’s way down in the basement of a modern building up at street level. In fact, it is the original floor of the old Antonia fortress located and attached to to northwest corner of the Herod’s Temple Mount. It is believed that here Jesus appeared before Pilate for his trial and was scourged by the Roman soldiers. The first picture is a little hard to see, but it is the remains of a game board scratched into the surface of the rock by Roman soldiers. The game was called the game of kings and the Romans would use it to decide what manner of humiliation they would impose upon condemned prisoners before their crucifixion.

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 10/15/18 – A signpost for what may be the most famous street on the face of the earth. Doron took a dismissive view of what he calls “the catholics” making a big deal of walking along it since, like he said, the real street would be 10-15 feet under this one and no one knows the route for sure anyway. To my perspective, even if these aren’t the very bricks Jesus walked on, they have been sanctified by the millions of feet of passing pilgrims meditating on Jesus’ passion. I was even moved enought to sing “the Via Dolorosa” in Spanish because, well it’s named after the street and is one of the only songs I know the words to in Spanish.
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10/15/18 – Along the via Dolorosa are the Stations of the Cross. They used to be the same stations that people mark on Good Friday in Catholic Churches around the world until Pope John Paul II changed them from the traditional events to the biblical events. I believe the ones on the via Dolorosa still maintain the traditional stations. This is station # 3, Jesus falls for the n time [I forget which] and #4, Jesus meets his mother. If you want to know the traditional events of the stations of the cross, watch Mel Gibson’s “the Passion of the Christ” because it’s basically the station of the cross on film.
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10/15/18 – The Arab market in Jerusalem. Long before there were shopping malls in America, the Arabs had already perfected the system.

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10/15/18 – Before he became the boogie man of his age, Kaiser Wilhelm II built two churches in Jerusalem. One for the Catholics and one for “die Evangelisch.” This is often referred to as “the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection” although how “Lutheran” was the Church in Germany by this time is a matter of some dispute, especially for those of us in the LCMS, whose progenitors fled Germany for America to practice a purer form of Lutheranism, uncorrupted by the Calvinism that had snuck into German Protestantism under King Friederich Wilhelm III. But I’m going off on one of my tangents. This is Kaiser Wilhelm’s beautiful Protestant church in Jerusalem.
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10/15/18 – Finally we arrive at what is, for many, the apex of their visit to Jerusalem – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the likely sight of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Crowds wait for hours to get into the traditional grave site which is inside a shrine inside the larger church. The grey dome above and to the right of the entrance is over the traditional place for mount Golgotha – the exact spot of execution.

The dome over the main nave of the church.

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10/15/18 – This is the line of people going up to the place of Golgotha under the grey dome we saw from outside the building. They come down from the other side.

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10/15/18 – This is a mural above “the slab” depicting Joseph of Amirmathea and others putting Jesus into Joseph’s tomb.

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10/15/18 – This stone inside the doors of the church that people are praying over and kissing is called “the slab.” It is a piece of marble where tradition says Jesus body was laid after the “deposition” or removal from the cross and where his body was cleaned and dressed for burial.

10/15/18 – This is the shrine over the burial crypt of Jesus and part of the hours long line waiting for a chance to go in a few at a time for 5 seconds. A priest waits outside to control “visiting hours” – actually seconds inside. Behind the shrine in a side narthex are more tombs of a similar nature. Doron tried to get us in there, but the crowds were so big we could not even get in there. We’ll talk about this a bit more when we get to the Garden tomb in a few days.

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10/15/18 – More stores. Doron brought us to another store run by some of his many friends where we know we’ll get a fair deal. Jackie was able to find an elaborate piece of gold and ruby jewelry that Doron was able to make affordable for her.

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10/15/18 – We enter the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. Although still part of the “Old City” the Jewish Quarter is almost entirely new construction put up since 1967. The previous Jewish community was evicted after the 1948 War of Independence and the buildings largely demolished by the Arabs. When Israel took control of the Old City in 1967 they resettled Jews in the Jewish Quarter and invested heavily in new construction.

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10/15/18 – This is one of the excavated streets in Jerusalem. This street was part of the city in Jesus’ day and was actually WIDER than the part we can now see.
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10/15/18 – We finally arrive at the Western, or “Wailing” Wall of the Temple Mount. The corner of the wall in the first picture, near the Al-Aqsa Mosque is looking down on the spot that I took the picture the other day looking UP at the wall.
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10/15/18 – This is the part of the city most sacred to Jews. It’s the retaining wall of the old Temple Mount and the closest place ABOVE GROUND to where the Holy of Holies within the Temple would have been. Women have to go to the right to pray. Men go to the left and are required to wear a loaned kippah, or yarmulke from a basket of them if they don’t have their own hat, to approach the wall. Many people, Jews and Gentiles leave written prayers in the cracks in the wall. It is illegal to remove or read anyone’s prayers from the cracks and subject to harsh punishments. I don’t know what happens to the old notes, or if they ever run out of space.
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10/15/18 – Turning around and looking west from the Wailing Wall, the new construction of the Jewish Quarter is evident.

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10/15/18 – A lesser known fact is that excavations under the city have uncovered even more of the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and the 1st century street running along it.
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10/15/18 – From here, beneath the modern street, it is possible to get even closer to the location that would have been the Holy of Holies and Jews can avail themselves of the opportunity to pray here as well.
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10/15/18 – the massive size of the Herodian stones is evident in these pics. Some of the stones would have weight as much as 500 tons – the weight of a small ship. It is no wonder that the disciples remarked to Jesus about the large stones in Mark chapter 13, just before Jesus predicts the downfall of the city.
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10/15/18 – The stones were quarried not far from the northern end of the wall. When Herod died in 4 BC, the workers walked away from the quarries leaving some stones half way quarried or laying about.

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10/15/18 – We leave the Old City through the Lions Gate. What this has to do, if anything, with the film company, I don’t know. How the gate got its name is obvious, but the back story is thus: Suleyman the Magnificent, 16th Century Ottoman Sultan had a dream where he was commanded to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. The dream warned that if he did not do so, he and his family would be eaten by lions. The lions on the gate are in honor of the beasts who did not eat him.

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Categories: Israel 2018