Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't Worry...Be Jewish!

Such was the writing on a tee shirt we saw as we wandered through the bazaars in the old city with our friends Mila and Greg. They arrived from the States yesterday morning, and planned to spend the day with us.
Not wanting to let go of our steady pace, but needing a break, we took an archeological tour of the ancient City of David, a section of the land below what would be Solomon's temple (present day Dome of the Rock). King David fought the Jebusites and won the land, choosing it because he wanted his people to always look towards, and walk up to, the temple when it was built. It was to be the glory of Jerusalem.
The Israelis discovered this area a number of years ago, and, from time to time, uncover more of this city. In one section, the walls represent three levels of civilization, going back as far as the Canaanites. We then learned about the threat of Assyrian conquest over the land, so, anticipating that event, King Hezekiah had a tunnel carved from the rock to provide a water source from the Gihon Springs, so the enemy could not cut off the source in a time of war. He had his stone masons begin at opposite ends of the intended at the Springs and the other beginning at the pool of Siloam. Amazingly, they met exactly in the middle! Experts think that they followed a fault line for accuracy.

We had the opportunity to trudge for 35 minutes through shin deep (at times hip deep) rushing water in a tunnel that was barely wide enough for our shoulders. At some points we had to bend down so as not to bump our heads on the ceiling. Now that would seem challenging enough, but imagine doing this in the dark! Thankfully, we had tiny flashlights to light our way.
Before heading to another area, we looked at the Siloam Springs excavation, which was just recently found. As we were leaving, we heard a commotion. Some Palestinian school boys were pelting tourists who walked over to a fence on the edge of the property, which was the dividing line between the excavation site, and Silhan, the neighborhood of illegally built Palestinian homes. Israelis have deeds for the property, but are forced away by this group of settlers. This is a very dangerous area...two weeks ago, there were shootings here.
So, our guide found a security guard, who walked us through a safer area, then out of the site. On the way, I found this sign which is a clue to the atmosphere that surrounds this neighborhood.
Since we were not able to visit the Temple Mount on our two week tour, today we did. The Muslims have total control over the highest point of the city, as did the Crusaders and Byzantines in past history. They are sporadic with their hours, and can change on a whim, so we were glad we had a half hour to experience this area that covered an area equivalent to 11 soccer fields. We saw the Mosque with the gold dome, built on the temple site. The color blue used in the tiles, supposedly drives away evil. The Jews want to excavate under this area, but are not allowed. In fact, the Muslims try any way they can to prevent a discovery that will prove the Bible true. They claim that there is no evidence that King David ever lived, and believe that Abraham sacrifice both Ishmael and Isaac on this site. The Scriptures verify the first point, and have no record of the second.

How touching it was to see the Mount of Olives from this vantage point, and know that the Messiah will come through the Eastern gate (just to the left of these arches). Neither a Muslim cemetery or a walled up gate will keep him away!
After we were herded off the premises, we had an authentic lunch of hummus, falafel, and shish-kabobs with pita, along with freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, and mint lemonade (great combo, by the way.) In this Muslim restaurant, there are no prices on the menu...the owner sizes you up, and decides at that moment how much you will pay for your meal! Thankfully, we only paid 137 shekels for the six of us, which is approximately $40.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent with the Pipers at their apartment in restaurant row. Mila and I broke away and went window shopping in modern Jerusalem. It was soon time to take the shuttle to the Tel Aviv airport, where we will sit for 6 hours, take a 2 hour flight to Istanbul, wait for three hours, then board the Turkish Airlines flight for our 10 hour flight back to the US.
Lord, willing, we will see many of you soon...thanks for your prayers on our behalf. Keep praying for Chen, our guide, that he will see the Light!

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Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel