10-18-18 – Caiaphas, Upper Room, Garden Tomb & Herodian
10/18/18 – After waking up on our last day in Israel, we check out of the hotel and proceed to the French church built on the scene of Caiaphas’ house where St. Peter denied Jesus before the cock crowed. The church is located on the side of a hill overlooking the southern part of the city and Doron is pointing out something special in the first picture. The second picture is what he was pointing out. Do you know what it is? Neither do I. And I can’t seem to remember now – but it was important enough at the time for me to take a picture. Maybe someone will help me out. (It was the Field of Blood where Judas hung himself) But the third picture is looking to the east where we have a good picture of the southeast corner of the Temple Mount. In Jesus’ day this was known as “the Pinnacle of the Temple and it was here that Satan tempted Jesus to jump to see if the angels would catch Him.
10/18/18 – This is the front exterior of the French “Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu” a/k/a Caiaphas’ house, with murals and magnificent metal door art depicting Peter’s denial as Jesus looks on. Gallicantu means cock’s crow.
10/18/18 – Down in the basement of the church are what would have been dungeons or holding cells from from Jesus day and include what were likely scourging stations for whipping prisoners.
10/18/18 – These are some of the excavations of Caiaphas’ extensive house complex and the original stairway within in.
10/18/18 – A bronze statue of St. Peter chickening out in front of the servant girl and male chicken – The inscription “I do not know him.”
10/18/18 – The mural on this side of the church is a picture of the restoration that happened in Galilee and where we visited on (I think) was our second day in country. The inscription reads, “I give you the keys.” Inside the church is a mural of the trial of Jesus behind the altar, but they are conducting mass, so I settle for a far away shot.
10/18/18 – After Caiaphas’ house we go to the traditional sight of King David’s tomb. Doron is skeptical about the authenticity of the site. The monument can be traced back to Herod the Great, but this would have been nearly 10 centuries after King David’s death and he (Doron) thinks the tomb is too far from what was the city in David’s day. I’m not certain that King David needed to be buried in what was “downtown,” and in the 10th century BC, this would have been a nice peaceful place overlooking David’s Jerusalem. But Doron is an expert and I’m not, so I feel the need to pass along his skepticism. What is important, is that even in Jesus’ day, it was popularly considered to be King David’s tomb.
10/18/18 – Inside the tomb complex are a mosque, a synagogue and a church because David is an important character in all three of the great monotheistic religions. Here we dawn our kippahs and the men only proceed through the synagogue with its library to view the traditional resting place of the great king himself – trying not to disturb the Orthodox Jew concentrating in his fervent prayers. The green and gold curtain is the door to the ark, where the hand written Torrah scrolls are kept. The women went in thru a different entrance to view the sarcophagus which is what is believed to contain one of the crusaders. When asked “who is buried in David’s tomb?” the correct answer is “No one knows”.
10/18/18 – This is the Christian chapel, built by the crusaders on what they believed to be the site of David’s tomb. It had once been used as a mosque as demonstrated by the frame on the left edge of the photographs which showed the direction of Mecca. More importantly however, this is the site of the upper room where Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Last Supper. It’s also the same location where St. Peter gave his great Pentecost sermon in Acts chapter 2, including the line “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” Acts 2:29.
10/18/18 – I’m not sure how old the tree statue is, but it’s in the chapel and it’s three branches represent the Holy Trinity while the grapes and wheat represent the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
10/18/18 – Finally we arrive at the penultimate place in our visit, and for many in our group, the most moving – the Garden Tomb
10/18/18 – The Garden Tomb was discovered by Maj. General Charles Gordon when he was in Jerusalem. Gordon was a bit of an eccentric, and I agree with Doron, that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is much more likely the actual place of Jesus crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. However we cannot know for 100% certain and the Garden tomb and nearby skull rock do make a compelling alternative. Regardless of all that however, the Garden Tomb certainly evokes more of a feeling of what the garden Jesus was buried in looked like at the actual time of His burial. Additionally, since the Garden tomb is available for viewing, only by appointment, and is flatly rejected by non-Protestant Christians, it is not the scene of mob chaos that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is. The tour guide gives us a very interesting story about the garden and its history, then leaves us to look about and enter the tomb before we celebrate a Eucharistic service in one of the out door chapels.
10/18/18 – Time for one more site before heading to the airport. This is the Herodium, another of Herod’s fortresses, this time in the wilderness just east of Jerusalem. Herod was not popular with the religious Jews in Jerusalem, so he built himself a subdivision in the suburbs on top of a hill, after he had the height of the hill doubled.
10/18/18 – The scale model in the visitors’ center, half way up the slope, give an indication of the size of the fortifications and the extensive pool complex big enough for boats to row around and a village for servants and visitors at the foot of the hill.
10/18/18 – Taking the path up to the summit, the remains of the facilities at the base are still visible, even though they were trashed during the Jewish War (66-73 AD) and Bar Kochba Revolt (132-136 AD).
10/18/18 – arriving at the summit, the recently excavated ruins of the fortress begin to give a picture of the one time splendor of the facilities, as does another scale model
10/18/18 – The commanding view in all directions (which includes a view all the way to the Dead Sea on a clear day), give an indication of why the site was chosen for Herod’s residence and eventually his tomb. He actually wasn’t buried there long however. Did I mention his unpopularity? Shortly after his death and burial, Jewish Zealots broke open and looted his tomb. I don’t think anyone knows what they did with his body, but I suspect there were several well fed jackals walking around the desert around the same time.
10/18/18 – As extensive as the buildings were atop of the man made mountain, they don’t scratch the surface (couldn’t resist that one) of the facilities inside the mountain itself. These include an extensive tunnel and cistern system, not to mention the private theater and tomb.
10/18/18 – As I mentioned, the mountain was designed to be a fortress and was used as such by Jewish rebels in their two wars against Rome. These are “rolling stones” – nothing to do with a rock band, used to roll downhill at formed bodies of troops below to discourage attacks against the mountain top.
10/18/18 – Finally, after nearly two weeks in Israel, we say goodby to the ruins of the Herodium and head for the modern world of the Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv-Yafo
However, before we head to the airport we stop in Bethlehem at The Tent for our fair well dinner. Here we presented Pr Dave with a thank you gift.
A weary group headed for the airport and their long flight home. No mater how wonderful an experience we have there is nothing like our own bed and shower!
SHALOM UNTIL NEXT TIME!!
Thank you to Scott Miller who’s commentary I plagiarized from his Facebook posts – with his permission. Also Will Imfeld did the commentary for 10/7 – 10/10/18.
Thanks guys, I would never have finished this without you.