Journey to Israel
by elise elrod ©1996
During seminary, I went to Israel as part of a class designed for the purpose of study. The object of the exercise was to travel "The Land of the Bible." My task was to keep notes, develop written assignments and report on my findings. I took my treasured Nikon along. The photos in this journal were taken with 35mm film and then scaned directly from the negatives into digital format ten years later.
Israel was not referred to as "The Holy Land" and this trip was not a spiritual pilgrimage, at least not for me. A few retired seminary professors led the journey alongside an Israeli guide. At each stop, there was generally an archeological dig or historic structure, a commemorative church and a souvenir stand.
I wandered the biblelands with a bus load of U.S. Christians who seemed to be in search of Jesus. The professors had the group of travelers sing and read the text of the bible at most stops. (Note: all names have been changed)
Day 1 & 2, Monday & Tuesday, January 1 & 2, 1996
for Trinidad last Friday. Mom & Dad arrived and are staying with Scott. Melody
has gone back to college. Tim, Amy and Kayla are back home in Tennessee. Day one and
day two lived like one big day.
I traveled with Dr. and Mrs. Theon, my alley neighbors. Shortly after departing
New York, we found the sun coming to meet us. Dinner on the plane was at 6:30
a.m. Israel time. Breakfast came just past noon after a time of rest that was
more like struggle than sleep.
We arrived in Tel Aviv late afternoon.
Some arrived much later and some arrived without baggage. Mine was broken but
happiness is seeing your luggage come around the belt in Tel Aviv. I would not
want to hunt for clothes in Israel.
We had a good dinner (or was it lunch?) and a short meeting. I called home and
got the answering machine before I realized it was midday in Louisville. Scott
was at school. Mom & Dad were out running errands. I wonder where Joni is tonight
and how she is doing. We were told to stay up as late as we could to offset jet-lag.
I passed out at 9:00 p.m.
Day 3, Wednesday, January 3, 1996
in the hall by 6:30 a.m. Breakfast at seven. The bus leaves by eight. Today began
our journey through the land of the Bible. We drove up the coast of the Mediterranean
Sea through the Sharon Valley to Caesarea by the Sea. Our guide's name is Chayim.
Photo 7, audio Ia: On the way, Chayim pointed out the
solar panels on homes and told us of the coal fired energy project which insured
the country electrical power. Israel considers oil too much of a risk because
it is controlled by the enemy. To put it as he did, Moses led the people in the
wilderness for forty years and brought them to one of the few spots in the middle
east without oil. He also pointed out the massive reclamation project involving
the planting of millions of trees. As for archeology, Chayim told us that excavations
have really only just begun. There are still over eleven hundred undeveloped sites
| Aqueduct Arches & Columns|
Photo 9-15, audio Ia:Our first stop in Caesarea was at the Roman aqueduct built
by King Herod the Great. There are no springs in the area. The aqueduct brought
water from Mt. Carmel to Caesarea. The city developed so quickly that four such
aqueducts were eventually built. Still much engineer, it impressed
me. The mass of the columns and arches say one thing. Before modern methods of
analysis, there was one primary structural engineering principle, "make it too
theodolite, transit or tripod level, the water flowed for miles in the right direction
and without ponding or spilling over the sides. Today such a project would require
years of planning, funding, right-of-way procurement, surveying and approvals.
I imagine they just decided to do it and then started.
audio Ia: Our next stop was at the Crusader city of Caesarea itself. The Crusaders
came in the 11th century to rescue the tomb of Jesus from the infidel. They built
smaller cities but much more fortified than the Romans. We saw ruins from the
Crusader times. Visible within these ruins were the bits and pieces of a former
Roman civilization. The Crusaders reused columns, capitals, adornments and other
fallen building parts to construct their own city. Most of these Roman parts were
not used in the way they had been originally intended. For instance, pieces of
columns were used horizontally to build foundation walls.
| Crusader City of Caesarea|
was established by King Herod, the Great. It became the capitol after his death.
He built two giant jetties, now covered with water, to form an artificial bay.
These two jetties have been largely responsible for the massive sand deposits
which are now being excavated.
The sand came originally from the Nile in Egypt. The city is named after Augustus
Caesar and it was here, on the edge of the sea, that a temple in his name was
built. Currently, excavations uncovering a hippodrome and the palace of Herod
are in progress.
Photo 29-48, audio Ia, Ib: From the city, we drove
less than a mile to the theater at Caesarea. We were met there by Dr. Jones.
We sat in the seats of this Roman theater as Dr. Jones revealed to us the significance
of this place.
| Seats, Theater at Caesarea|
He mentioned that there are more than ten Caesar cities in the ancient world and
he called this one the birthplace of evangelism (Peter) and missions (Paul). He
reminded us that we were Gentiles and that it was here that the first Gentile
converts were made.
This city was the headquarters for Roman administration
in the middle east. Herod lived here as did Pilate and Festus. Cornelius' royal
guard was here. It was a pagan city worshipping many gods but Cornelius acknowledged
the one god becoming the first Gentile convert. Sitting there, looking out over
the stage of the Roman theater, we were told of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:20-23)
being struck down by an angel and eaten by worms.
| Stone, Pontius Pilate's Seat |
After we ceremoniously read scripture, and sang, our guide continued the explanation.
In the Roman theater, the actors were on stage but did not speak. A choir sang
the story line. Through this theater was a road with an entrance and exit to the
area immediately in front of the stage where chariots could come through depositing
important guests and dignitaries. The dressing rooms were beneath the stage.
Chayim explained to us that
statues, columns and beautiful artifacts were nice to find but the real success
of discoveries is based upon inscriptions. The finding of one inscription on a
stone is worth far more than a dozen Roman statues. In this theater was found
what has come to be known as the Pilate stone. The stone theoretically marked
the spot of Pontius Pilate's reserved seat and it bears his name. The stone that
we were shown is a replica of the original which now resides in a Turkish museum.
The Turks were in control of the area when the stone was discovered.
49-65, audio Ib: Leaving Caesarea by the Sea, we climbed Mount Carmel (in the
bus) to a place on top called Muhraka (Arab for lightning or fire). Carmel means
"god's vineyard." Again, our guide reminded us, pointing toward the "oppressed"
forest of Mount Carmel, that 280 million trees have been planted in an attempt
to recover those cleaned off by the Turks. We passed the Carmel wine cellar where
wine is made and sold to Jews (and others) all over the world. It reminded me
that being Jewish in Israel has become somewhat of a world-wide business.
It has been a hazy, windy day.
Atop Mount Carmel, the view of the Jezreel valley was something to see. Though
through the haze, Chayim pointed out to us Haifa, lower Galilee, the city of
Nazareth, the Kishon river (more of a stream), the Samaritan mountains and the
city of Megiddo (Armageddon). We read from 1 Kings 18:25ff but could hardly hear
for the wind. Here we saw a statue of Elijah slaying the prophet of Baal and a
representation of the altar of twelve stones.
66-91, audio IIa: We left Muhraka and traveled to Megiddo. On the way, we passed
by a typical "rolling stone" tomb used in the time of Jesus. Whose it was is not
known. The mountain of Megiddo (Har-Megedon, Armageddon) is thought to be the
place of the final battle. The city has been built and destroyed twenty-five times.
Therefore, in the Tel (the hill comprising the ruins) are twenty-five layers of
evidence related to civilizations gone by.
The importance of this location is that it overlooks the Via Maris, a main Roman
road making it the most important strategic site in Palestine. In the ruins was
found a 5000 year old prayer structure from the Canaanite period used for thousands
of years for continual prayer in the same spot. Our guide told us that broken
pottery is used to date each layer. Pottery is something that is left in place,
not carried away like coins and other valuables.
Stripping the site layer by layer destroys all but the
layer not yet disturbed. For this reason, two major cuts have been made, one through
the high ground where the temple would be found and one through the low ground
where would be found the gates to the city. At the lower cut was found a 3500
year old pedestrian gate and stairs leading to it. Only half of Solomon's gate
is now unearthed. This was the Northern gate of the city and dates to the Canaanite
up the Tel through Solomon's gate to a place overlooking the Via Maris. There,
we ceremoniously read scripture and sang. This place also overlooked a temple and its
altars dating in the 27th century B.C.E. (before the common era). It seems nothing
of antiquity in Israel refers to Christ (B.C. or A.D.). We then proceeded to the
city's grainery. It had two sets of steps, one leading down and one for use going
back up again. It must have been at least thirty feet deep.
Next at Megiddo were the stables. We stood over a horse
trough carved out of stone. Probably, the highlight of Megiddo was a walk through
Ahab's 9th century water system. The sign read: "Passage through this tinnel (sic)
entails a descent of 183 steps and a (sic) ascent of 80 steps. After you pass
through the tunnel you will find yourself outside the excavations and will need
to follow the road, 600 meters, to parking area." Some declined and rode the bus
around as their health dictated. I decided to go through.
land of Israel, water is, without question, the determining factor in much of
life's decisions. The city of Megiddo was without water except for the spring
which lay outside the city walls. In order that water would be available during
a siege, Ahab constructed a deep tunnel leading to a pool inside the city and
a passage for water to that pool from the spring outside. He then camouflaged
the entrance of his water system. The journey to bring back water seems almost
impossible to me considering how many trips would have to be made. Our guide reminded
us that it was a good thing the women had to do it. He received both laughter
92-95, audio II a: The Church of St. Gabriel in Nazareth was our next stop. Here
is the traditional site, according to the Greek Orthodox, of the angel appearing
to Mary near the Well of the Virgin. Inside the church is what is supposed to
be the spring of Mary or Mary's well. On the walls of this church are many paintings
commemorating the event.
Photo 96-102, no audio: From there we moved on to the Baptist center in Nazareth
where we held a short service. I was surprised to see Santa on the wall behind
109-113, audio Xa: Our stopping place for the evening is the city of Tiberias.
My room has a balcony overlooking the Sea of Galilee on one side and the city
on the other.
a nice dinner and a lecture by Dr. Theon. He reviewed the day behind us and the
one ahead. Then he gave a short lecture on the public ministry of Jesus emphasizing
the four withdrawals as he refers to them.
Bedtime came within thirty minutes
of returning to my room, 10:00 p.m.
Day 4, Thursday, January 4,
No luggage out today. We returned to the same Hotel. Breakfast
at 6:30. Bus leaves at 8:00. Today, we went first to the Mount of the Beatitudes.
On the way, Chayim told us about the students who, while on a walk down the
beach, found what is now known as the Jesus Boat. It dates back to the time of
Jesus. To keep from destroying it, by drying it too quickly, it went through a
six year process during which wax replaced the voids impregnated by water.
| Church of the Beattitudes|
told us that the Sea of Galilee is the only fresh water source for the state of
Israel. The lake itself is nearly 700 feet below sea level and therefore it is
a difficult matter to get water out to the rest of Israel. Placing pumping stations
farther up stream would significantly reduce the cost of the water supply but
because of the tenuous relationship between Israel and Syria, it is thought to
be too risky to place anything vital near the Syrian border. So, a pumping station
has been built nearby and water is pumped to an artificial lake on top of a mountain
that then serves the remainder of Israel.
| Sister, Church of Beatitudes|
Photo 114-123, audio II b: The Mount of Beatitudes is so named to commemorate
the Sermon on the Mount. The area surrounding it is shaped like a theater and
that is the only evidence for selecting the site. Still, it serves well its purpose.
From this site, on which a church has been built, can be seen the Sea of Galilee,
Tiberias, Magdala (where Jesus met Mary Magdalene), Tapgha (feeding of the five
thousand) and Capernaum (center of Jesus' ministry). Here we read from Matthew
5. The church itself was built in 1937, by Mussolini no less. Imagine
comparing his behavior with Matthew 5! There was an interesting sign out front
with symbols on it representing: "no smoking", "no food and drink," "no shorts,"
and "no guns" (sorry Mussolini)! We could not go into the church. Services were
being held. I took a photograph of a "sister" reading her Bible.
| Sign, Mount of Beatitudes|
Photo 124-132, audio III a:
We passed Rosh Pina ("corner stone") and proceeded up the Hula Valley to Banias
(Caesarea Phillipi) at the base of Mount Hermon. Passing over the river Dan, and
past the ruins of Dan, we passed the Tel at Hatsor where hundreds of thousands
lived at the time of Solomon into the Golan Heights where Syria and Israel have
so much conflict. For thousands of years, this little piece of real estate has
been in constant unrest. Only last Saturday, terrorist's rockets flew over the ruins
of conquests thousands of years old to land in Kirat Shemona. There, they say
the children once could not get to sleep because the bombing had stopped and they
were not accustomed to the silence or sleeping outside of bomb shelters.
Even as we drove along, our guide pointed to the markers indicating that both
sides of the road are mined and he warned us not to venture outside of the site
at Banias for fear of finding land mines. Banias is a place where pagan worship
was common and where natural springs begin their flow to the Jordan. The god worshiped
was "Pan" but the Greeks could not pronounce the "P" and therefore the name became
Banias. The ruins are partially from the time of the Crusaders and from the time
of Herod Philip.
to the top of the springs where, in front of a niche carved in the mountain for
pagan worship, we read from Matthew 16:13ff. It was here in Caesarea Phillipi
that Jesus reportedly asked his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Dr. Hillberry, standing
in the niche, preached in the rain as we all stood with umbrellas and listened.
There, on the grounds of pagan worship, we sang, "I have decided to follow Jesus."
It seems no wonder that the thunder of unrest still echoes over Mt. Hermon.
Photo 133-140, audio III a: We left the shrine to the god Pan and proceeded back
down through the Hula valley to Tapgha or Heptapegon (seven springs) as it was
originally known before the Arabs had trouble pronouncing it. This is the traditional
site of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes. Here, in the fourth century,
an altar was built commemorating the feeding of the five thousand.
The German Benedictine Church was built in 1985 patterned
after a fifth century church and is currently a monastery. The most significant
artifact at this site is the mosaic floor which dates back to the original fourth
or fifth century structures. It is believed that the original artist was Egyptian
because of the water level marker represented as found on the Nile and the peacock
not native to Israel. Here also, in the mosaic is the basket of loaves and the
fishes. In the basket are only four loaves. Our guide tells us that perhaps we
are the fifth loaf. I wonder though, considering the peacock, if four loaves
didn't just center up in the basket better.
It is believed that all of the following events took place in Tapgha: Calling
of the first apostles (Mk 1:16-20); Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:1ff); Healing of
the leper (Mt 8:1-4); The miracle of the Multiplication; Jesus' walk on the water
(Mk 6:45-52); Meeting after the resurrection (Jh 21:1ff); and The last appearance
of Jesus in Galilee (Mt 28:16-20).
141-157, audio III a: Our next stop, Capharnaum (as the sign read) or Capernaum,
was the center of Jesus' ministry. There, we viewed the traditional site of Peter's
house (or his mother-in-law's). The foundation of it is surrounded by the foundation
of a fourth century Byzantine church. Looking kind of like a space craft is a
very modern chapel suspended over the site.
Dr. Hillberry pointed out that during the excavations were found fish hooks and other
artifacts indicating the one living here may have been a fisherman. There was
nothing found indicating "Peter lived here." The site is important in that the
house is in Capernaum near the temple and represents well where Jesus and Peter
may have met and stayed.
| Alpheus the son of Zebidah|
The synagogue, nearby, was built over "the synagogue of Jesus" (according to the
sign). The gray stones of the fourth century Roman style synagogue were obviously
laid over the black volcanic stone of an earlier structure. The synagogue had
a balcony to keep separate the women. We all sat, men and women, on the fourth
century stone benches, downstairs, as scripture was read. In the area around the
synagogue were artifacts which helped identify it as a place of worship.
In a humorous way, Chayim
pointed to an inscription on a column which gave credit to the one who donated
it. The inscription reads: "Alpheus the son of Zebidah the son of John made this
column. May it be for him a blessing." Where else, Chayim said, would there
be such an inscription taking credit but in a synagogue?
A second piece of evidence is the Holy Ark (for the Torah Scrolls) carved into
a beam. The Ark had wheels which produced a lengthy explanation from our guide
which I question. He said the wheels were to roll it out of the way to allow people
to enter the synagogue because the structure was built facing the wrong way. The
entrance door was between the people and Jerusalem. Therefore, the Ark would have
to be placed in front of the doors so that the people could pray in the right
direction and then rolled out of the way to let them out. It seemed like a typical
Ark on a wagon to me.
The third piece of evidence indicating the building's use as a synagogue was a
Minora carved into a capital and an incense shovel. Also contained within this
site (Capernaum) was a Gethsemane. Like everyone, I was surprised when he said
this because of the special significance assigned to the word by Christians. It turns out that
Gethsemane means "olive press" and there are hundreds in Israel. The garden where
Jesus sweat blood is only one of hundreds of such working gardens. Also, there,
is a mile marker from the Via Maris.
Photo 158-189, audio III a: Passing ancient tombs lying by the side of the road
(cemetery of Magdala) we traveled back to Tiberias where, after lunch (St. Peter's
fish), we would cross the Sea of Galilee by boat. The day was very windy. The
water was tossed with white caps, a perfect day to remember New Testament voyages
across this lake.
We were to sail from Tiberias to Ein-Gev. At mid-passage,
the engines were stopped and we ceremoniously read scripture and sang. Dr. Theon
got up to speak. Except for the public address system aboard ship, he could not
be heard at all for the wind. The unused deck chairs took flight, raced past Dr.
Theon and nearly blew overboard. After the crew lashed the chairs to the rails,
Dr. Theon braced himself against the ship and began to point around the lake and
speak about all that was visible pertaining to Jesus' ministry.
with the Decapolis city of Hippos, then to Kirsi where the swine reportedly entered the sea
and then to Gamla which means camel because it is a mountain shaped like a camel's
head. He motioned to Mount Hermon beyond Banias hidden behind the clouds and to
Capernaum where we spent the morning. Coming on around, he pointed to the Mount
of Beatitudes, Tapgha and Safad, the city of rejoicing.
| Tiberias from Aboard Ship|
Then he pointed to Ginnosar where the Jesus boat was found, to Magdala and finally
back to our port of origin at Tiberias.
were restarted and we continued on to Ein-Gev. In the wind, as we entered the
port of the Kinnereth Sailing Company Ltd (Sea of Chinnereth" or "Chinneroth,"
the Hebrew word for "harpshaped"), we sang "Spirit of the living god, fall
fresh on me."
audio III b: We drove through the Kibbutz of Ein-Gev. Chayim explained the communal
living concept of the kibbutz to us, everything held in common. The Kibbutz of
Ein-Gev had tourist boats, a restaurant, fishing and live stock.
We continued past the cave of the reportedly demon possessed man at
Kursi but it was too late in the day to stop. A church, of the Byzantine period,
is built over the cave. On our way to the Jordan Baptismal site, Chayim gave
us still more lecture about the role the kibbutz plays in protecting the Israeli
border and still more about Israel's position concerning adjoining lands. I appreciate
the fact that I now understand the conflict in the Middle East better than ever
before, albeit from hearing one side only.
192-195, audio III b: Arriving at the baptismal site, we were informed that this
is not the traditional site of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. That site is
nearer the Dead Sea and is too near Jordan to be safe for tourists. There happened
to be another "Elrod" (no relation) on this trip on the other bus and today he
was baptized by his minister in the Jordan. After entering the cold Jordan on
this January day, the minister remarked, "I can see why Jesus walked
on the water!" This writer, also an "Elrod" nearly baptized myself in the
Jordan when I slipped and fell going down the rocky steps landing within a few
feet of the water. As if that was not embarrassing enough, a tourist, whom
I do not know, ran over and began unbuttoning my shirt. She thought I was in panic.
The only panic I felt was when I realized a strange woman had decided to disrobe
me on the banks of the Jordan!
We arrived back in Tiberias for an evening meal and a lecture by Dr. Hillberry. He
reviewed the day past and the day ahead. He then turned to what he said he did
not want to call "speculation" but would instead refer to as "imagination." The
lecture was insightful, indeed, and I appreciate his candor with those on the
tour. I am the only student out of the sixty or so on this particular trip.
| Sign-Theater at Beit She'an|
His lecture centered on Jesus' upbringing, the culture and everyday
life experiences that may have affected Jesus' ministry. For instance, Joseph
may have moved to Nazareth to secure work. Nearby, Herod Antipus was building
a city and Joseph was a carpenter. Likewise, this nearby city,
its theater may have affected his vocabulary (hypocrite). As he ended his lecture,
he reiterated, it may all be speculation. Tonight was the night the missionaries
were suppose to come but, after waiting a time, we have not seen them.
the room late again. Bedtime, 11:00 p.m.
Day 5, Friday, January 5, 1996
Today we left Tiberias luggage and
all. Bags in the hall by 6:00 a.m. Breakfast at 6:30. Bus left at 8:00 a.m. The
missionary came by to greet us at the last minute. We would travel south along
the Jordan to the Dead Sea and then over to Jerusalem. It is about sixty-five
miles from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea as the crow flies. But, the Jordan
winds around flowing some two hundred miles.
Photo 200-215, audio IVa: Our first stop today on the way
to Jerusalem was Beit She'an. The rain really came down this morning and we passed
the amphitheater without stopping. We could see it from the road. It had openings
for the animals and people to enter the field. Our guide assured us that Christians
were killed in this manner at Beit She'an.
off the bus at the Roman theater and main city area of the ruins. There, out of
the rain, we stood in a covered pass-thru which was part of the second century
stadium seats. The theater would seat over 7,000. We overlooked the Tel as Chayim
told us about this upper crust neighborhood. The colonnaded main street ("cardo")
stretched out before us. He spoke about the brothel for sinning and the pagan
temple just up the street for repenting.
This city was located at one of the most important junctions in the ancient world.
The city was inhabited by Roman army veterans. Now being restored is what was
termed a city club. Unlike our city dwelling society that goes to a country club
to relax, this was a country dwelling society that came to the city for recreation.
Twenty layers of civilization have been uncovered here. The city was founded in
the fifth millennium B.C.E. When Christianity took hold, in the fourth century
C.E. the inhabitants of Beit She'an became largely Christian.
216-220, audio IVa: On the way to Jericho we were stopped by Israeli police. It
would seem that it is not safe to proceed to Jericho today. We could see the Mount
of Temptation off in the distance. Our guide told us that the walls of Jericho
reportedly defeated by Joshua were not there anymore. Most likely made of brick, they turned
to dust long ago. Much older walls were there but we would not be seeing them
and the ruins of the world's oldest city today. We turned back and headed for
way we saw many Bedouin camps and herds. Also the traditional site of John the
Baptist baptizing is not too far away.
Photo 223-235, audio IVb: We arrived at Qumran and mounted a platform overlooking
the site. It is believed that the Essenes came here during the second century
B.C. disgruntled with how Romanized Jerusalem had become. Their quest for a deeper
spiritual life exhibited doctrines surprisingly similar to early Christians.
From the platform we saw a series of cisterns used to store water, each one
having an overflow that emptied into the next. Ritual baths with steps leading
down were visible. We also saw a scriptorium where writing and copying was done.
In this room were found pieces of pottery with the Hebrew alphabet, an ink well
with residue of ink still in it, leather for covering desks and the desks themselves.
The ink well is in the Shrine of the Book and the desks are in the Rockefeller
museum in Israel.
A.D. 68, the Qumran settlement was overrun by the Romans but not before the Essenes
hid their scrolls in caves. A Bedouin boy, looking for his goat, threw a rock
into one of the caves in the middle of the twentieth century and discovered the
clay jars in which the scrolls were preserved. We walked to a viewing station
over cave #4 which contained the city archives. The scrolls in this cave were
in the worst condition of all as they were not well protected and the cave was
clearly visible to the settlement.
Photo 236-251, audio IVb: From Qumran, we drove to the
old Roman road that used to lead to Jericho. The road was barely wide enough for
the bus. It wound around the edges of the desert hills. We stopped and climbed
up on a small mount in the Judean desert where we could see the fifth century
Monastery of St. George. Here, we were swamped by Bedouin men and boys trying
to sell us their wares. The guide could not finish his explanation and grew rather
angry with the group by the time we returned to the bus. He said that he felt
danger for us in that someone could have been robbed or even slipped off the mountain.
It was remarkable to see the Bedouin camps and their make-shift tents. Even so,
they are reported to be some of the happiest and most hospitable people on earth.
Photo 252-254, audio IV b, Va: After retracing the road
to Jericho back out, we journeyed on to Jerusalem. Chayim informed us that Jerusalem
is being developed in the reverse order of most cities. It is developing from
the outside, in. The strategy is a military one. It is believed that Jerusalem
will be safer and easier to hold if it has a human wall around it. The interior
of Jerusalem still has many fields and orchards.
I thought about all the walls that have been built, each
one covering a greater area as the city grew older, just to see Jerusalem destroyed
again. We viewed the city from Mount Scopus where the Mount of Olives and Mount Moriah
(Temple Mount) are clearly visible. We could hear the wails in the valley below.
This is Friday evening (not yet sundown), soon to be the beginning of the Sabbath.
Photo 255-270, audio Va: Our
next venture was to the Garden Tomb, the site of Gordon's Calvary (the skull).
There we found a compound, more or less, run by a Christian trust based in England.
Our guide was an Englishman who like others, comes for a few months
of the year on a volunteer basis and escort tourists through the site.
much appreciated his explanation of Gordon's findings. He pointed to the nearby
rocky cliff and helped us see the skull in it. This was one of Gordon's primary
reasons for selecting this site. The rock was a known place of Jewish execution,
often by throwing individuals off the rock. It does not seem high enough to me
to insure death every time. Also, this site was just off the main road to Jericho
where all could see.
there is a Muslim cemetery on top and a bus station at the base of it. The English
have been unable to purchase it. General Gordon questioned if the Church of the
Holy Sepulchre was actually the site of Jesus' tomb. The garden site was purchased
by Christians in London 102 years ago for the purpose of investigation. It was
quickly discovered that it had been a working garden with a rich man's tomb (referring
to Joseph of Arimathea) carved from solid rock.
A wine press was discovered as was the evidence of many
vines once growing here. One of the largest cisterns in Jerusalem was also discovered.
It holds 200,000 gallons of water and is still in use today. The lining of the
cistern is Roman and dates back to the time of Jesus. Crusader crosses have been
carved into the lining.
slots are visible in the tomb outer wall where may have been constructed a roof
of a former church. There is a cutout in the rock floor in front of the tomb that
may have been used for foot washing and another cutout that could have been a
baptismal area. The site guide was very candid concerning the site. It may be
the site of Jesus' burial and it may not.
After entering and exiting the tomb, we left for our hotel. Our hotel
in Jerusalem is very nice. Our dinner was in a dinning room primarily filled with
Jewish people all dressed for the Sabbath which began after sundown. The sight
of hundreds of black hats and curly sideburns is something to behold. I now know
where Jews feel completely at home, Jerusalem.
The elevators are interesting. Since one cannot do physical
work on the Sabbath, two elevators are set to stop at every other floor without
pressing any buttons. Pressing the buttons would be work. I guess it takes a lot
of faith or even more work to walk up ten flights of stairs. Still, I respect
No lecture tonight.
Tried to catch up on my writing and bed by 10:00 p.m.
Day 6, Saturday, January 6, 1996
Our luggage stays where it is for the rest of the trip. Breakfast at 6:30 a.m.
The bus left at 8:00. The news tells us why we were unable to go to Jericho. The
number one Arab terrorist was shot yesterday. The Arab shops have gone on strike
because of the killing.
Photo 271-276, audio VIa: Our first stop today was Bethlehem only a couple of
weeks after it was turned over to the Palestinians. In addition, it is Christmas
eve for them. People, music, parades and joy are everywhere. Yesser Arafat's photograph
looms over the crowd on a three story banner. Palestinian police are out in great
numbers. Our Israeli guide tells us the area is better controlled than ever before.
| Poor Box, Church Nativity|
277-283, audio VIa: After we walked a few blocks through the excitement that was
Bethlehem this day, we came to the Church of the Nativity. It is built over the
cave which is the traditional site of Jesus' birth. It is also the oldest church
in Israel. The church dates back to the fourth century with sixth century renovations
and later repairs made by the Crusaders. When the Persians came and destroyed
all of the churches, they entered this church and noticed the wise men depicted
on the walls. The wise men looked somewhat Persian and therefore the church was
We entered the
church through what is known as the door of humility. Its header is low enough
that all but children would have to bow as they pass through. We walked through
the Greek Orthodox basilica, past the poor box and down a set of stairs that led
to the cave now known as the Chapel of the Nativity. This long cave was once used
to house animals and people for the night.
thought to be similar to one that housed the manger of Jesus' birth. A silver star has been placed
at the spot commemorating the birth. The original star was gold but has been stolen.
Responsibility for the theft is said to have caused the war between the Russians
and Turks. Interestingly enough, there is a wall at mid-cave so that the Greek
Orthodox and Catholic do not have to enter the same way, through the Greek Orthodox
284-286, audio VI a: Adjoining the Church of the Nativity is the Roman Catholic
Church of St. Catherine. It is a nineteenth century church built over the traditional
fourth century site of Jerome's work on the Latin Vulgate. We walked into the
Church of St. Catherine from the Church of the Nativity and descended the narrow
stairs leading to the cave where Jerome lived. There we saw the proposed site
of Jerome's tomb marked by a plaque. Jerome's tomb is believed to have been taken
by the Crusaders. We also heard Dr. Hillberry tell us about the need Jerome met,
for the Bible to be translated into the language of the common people. When we
left the church, we entered a courtyard where stood a statue of St. Jerome.
287-312, audio VIa: Next, we drove passed the supposed site of the shepherd's
field and on to the Catholic Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. It is the traditional
place of Peter's denials and is thought to be built over the site of a palace
of a high priest, possibly Caiaphas. The current church was dedicated in 1931
but is thought to replace a former Byzantine church.
| Church St Peter Gallicantu|
Here, on the slopes of Mount Zion we overlooked Jerusalem, built on this mountain
and Mount Moriah across the way. We could see clearly the city as a model spread
before us including the Mount of Olives, the Dome of the Rock, the Al Aqsa Mosque
and the western (wailing) wall. It was here that King Herod's water system made
water immediately available to the inhabitants of these slopes. Mosaic floors
were found. A wine press and an olive press were found as were large cisterns.
Our guide mentioned that we were standing where the rich lived in Jesus' time
(i.e. high priests like Caiaphas).
We then descended into the sub-sub-basement
of the current church building.
This basement is nothing more than a man-made cave carved out of solid rock. In
the ceiling was a large hole and in the upper sides were what our guide referred
to as possible guard lookout openings. It could have been here and certainly it
was someplace similar to and near here that Jesus was reportedly lowered (through the
hole) and held until his appearance before Pilate. After leaving the church, we
ascended the Maccabean stairs
dating to the first century and
thought to have connected Mount Zion to the valley of Kidron below.
Photo 313-331, audio VIb: After
a short bus ride, we entered the old city of Jerusalem on foot via the Jaffa Gate.
We walked the narrow streets of Jerusalem to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Standing in the courtyard that was thought to have once been part of the garden
of Joseph of Arimathea, our guide explained to us some of the history of the church.
When the Crusaders came, their purpose was to liberate the tomb of Jesus.
The present church was built by the Crusaders. The original Constantinian church
(completed A.D. 335) was destroyed by the Persians. The church changed hands several
times after the Crusaders were defeated. The Greek Orthodox wound up with primary
control of the
| Symbolic Ladder|
of Holy Sepulchre
church but over time many denominations established
representation inside. The inability of these Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox,
Catholic, Armenian, etc.) to decide anything concerning the church let it fall
into disrepair. A ladder on the second floor, fenced in and setting on a ledge
became the symbol of the work needed but that no one could reach.
Church of Holy Sepulcher
Finally, in the twentieth century, agreements to make repairs became possible.
The church is now one big construction site. Likewise, it could not be agreed
upon who would hold the keys to the front door. Rather than trusting one another,
not to lock the other out, Christians made an odd choice. To this day, the keys
to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are held by a Muslim family and they open
the church each morning.
The last five stations (X,
XI, XII, XIII and XIV) of the Via Dolorosa are contained within the Church of
the Holy Sepulchre. Represented by a small chapel outside, is station ten where
Jesus was reportedly stripped out of his clothes. Inside, we climbed a set of stairs onto an
upper floor which has been built over the site thought to be Golgotha. There is
built a Greek Orthodox chapel and a Catholic chapel side by side. The Catholic
chapel contains stations ten and eleven, where Jesus' garments were reportedly stripped and
where He was nailed to the cross. On the Greek side is the traditional site where
the cross stood, the twelfth station. Covered in glass, protruding through the
floor, is the rock which is the spot believed to be where the cross stood and
where Jesus died. Underneath the altar is a hole where people may reach through
to touch the rock.
The thirteenth station is where Jesus was reportedly taken from
the cross and the body was reportedly prepared for burial. It is an actual stone and is known
as the Stone of Unction. Referring to a skull in the mosaic on a nearby wall,
our guide told us of the Greek Orthodox or perhaps Armenian tradition that the
blood of Christ ran down and touched the skull of Adam paying for Adam's original
sin. Therefore, to them, Golgotha (the place of the skull) meant the place of
the skull of Adam.
through an Armenian chapel to the fourteenth station, the supposed tomb of Jesus. It is
housed in a small chapel within a larger chapel. The tomb is the heart of the
Church of the Holy Sepulcher. All of the rock that once stood around this site
was knocked down to build what now stands. I could not help but wonder if, in
an attempt to elaborately preserve the tomb, the authentic site may have been
332-341, audio VIb: After lunch in a small shop, we traveled the remainder of
the Via Dolorosa in the reverse order Jesus traveled. Each station of the cross
was marked, often in a very simplistic way. When we passed station three, the
point where Jesus reportedly fell for the first time, our guide informed us that this is
where Gordon's Calvary and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher part company. Both
sites are outside the walls of Jerusalem in Jesus' day, but the route from station
three forward would take a different turn.
We proceeded to the site of the Antonia Fortress where Jesus appeared before Pilate,
station one. Here, was uncovered the pavement of King Herod the Great. It included
water channels which carried water to the cistern located on the site. It was
also scarred with the graffiti of Roman Soldiers possibly including the etching
of a dice game (like the one played for Jesus' garments).
349-353, audio VIb: From the Antonia Fortress, we walked to the Church of St.
Anne at the pool of Bethesda. The acoustics were extraordinary. Again, my engineering
interests were stimulated. The Crusader church is constructed entirely of stone.
It was spared by the Muslims because they used it as a school. There is not a
flat surface in the many chambered roof of this church. Normal speaking tones
were nearly indiscernible but when chants were made (by Dr. Theon), the sound was
clear as a bell. The church housed the only statue in the ancient world of Mary
being represented as a child. There, we sang and read scripture.
Photo 354-360, audio VIb: Immediately
outside the Church of St. Anne is the ruin of the Pool of Bethesda. We viewed
the southern section. The pools were used by the Byzantine as a foundation of
their church. The Persians destroyed the Byzantine church and a Crusader church
was built over it at a much higher level.
Also, in front of the church,
on display, is a monument entitled, "Tombstone of a Deacon." More than one humorous
remark was made by pastors and deacons on the trip. We read from John 5 and then
left the area through the Lion's gate (Sheep's Gate, St. Stephen's Gate). It was
at this gate that Stephen was reportedly stoned as Saul (Apostle Paul) stood by and watched.
| Model - City of Jerusalem|
Photo 361-377, audio VIIa: We reboarded our waiting bus and proceeded past the
Dung Gate through the Kidron valley and back up Mount Zion. There, we stopped
to view an outdoor model of the city of Jerusalem. The model is a serious attempt
by the Head of the Department of History of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
to recreate the city as it existed just before it was destroyed in A.D. 70.
Materials used in the actual
city were used to construct the model (i.e. stone, clay tile, etc.). The terrain
of the land was reproduced (Mount Zion, Mount Moriah, the valleys, etc.). One
meter of the model represents fifty meters of reality. Therefore the model is
very large (thousands of square feet). Our tour guide led us around it stopping
to explain along the way.
spent the day navigating our way through the very narrow canyon-like streets of
the old city. This was a time of putting the whole city into context. We could
see the Temple Mount (Mount Moriah), its Western (wailing) wall and the Palace
of King Herod on Mount Zion. The guide pointed out that King Herod built more
defensive towers facing the city than he did facing outward. It is thought that
he knew from where the real danger to his power might come.
| Model - City of Jerusalem|
The guide informed us that the Western Wall of the Temple Mount has been excavated
under the Muslim Quarter its entire length, some 480 meters. Stones weighing as
much as 570 tons were found. The slopes, where the high priests' Roman style palaces
were built, looked across to the Temple Mount. The journey through the valley
was eliminated by the priest bridge, connecting Mount Zion and Mount Moriah.
We could see the Pool of Bethesda
and the Lion's Gate where we had been only an hour earlier. King Hezekiah's "S"
shaped tunnel was explained to us that brought water to the lower city. Archeology
did not play a big role in determining the model because the city of Jerusalem
is a Tel on which the last layer is still alive. Rather, the Bible, Rabbinic writings,
Jewish Historians and other sources were of greater value.
of the city ended our day. We traveled back to the hotel for a good dinner. After
dinner, Dr. Theon spoke about god's plan of the ages. In a sermon-like lecture,
he made three points (no poem). First, he said, god provided a person. This was
Abraham. Then god provided a place, Israel, Hebron. Finally, the purpose of the
person and place was the doing of god's will. In other words, his message was
that the will of god works itself out in history and it takes all Christians in
the places where they find themselves to do as god wills in their lives. (I, of course, hold that god within is the courage to be in the way.)
After Dr. Theon spoke, we received
a brief lecture from an Israeli concerning money in ancient times. He made several
points about the money changers in the temple and the woman who gave a widow's
mite (see at right). He said that Jesus' displeasure with the money changers was
not that they were there but that they overcharged the commission required to
change Roman coins into silver acceptable in the temple. Coins with images of
people on them were not acceptable.
Finally, he said of the woman who gave so little that she had fallen short of
the one-half shekel required. But, anger with her was not over the amount but
over the fact that she gave on the men's side. I bought two coins from this man, one with
Roman images and a widow's mite. If his story was a sales pitch, he was effective.
Day 7, Sunday, January 7, 1996
at 6:30 a.m. The bus left at 8:00. Today, we went back to the old city of Jerusalem.
Photo 378-383, no audio: We entered through the Dung Gate on the southern
city wall into the plaza in front of the Western (wailing) wall of the Temple
Mount (Mount Moriah). It is known as the Wailing Wall because Jewish people could
only return once per year to mourn the destruction of the temple. Since 1967,
the Jews have possession of Jerusalem and now it is more often referred to as
the Western Wall.
wall is a retaining wall built by Herod to support the Temple Mount. The wall
is a special place of Jewish prayer. Small pieces of paper with prayers written
on them are placed between the Herodian stones, sort of god's mail box. Here,
the women are divided from the men by a solid fence through which you cannot see.
Next to the men's side and included with it is the Wilson Arch, a Herodian arch
named after the one who discovered it. It was interesting that the men's side
is several times larger than the women's side and that the women's side was crowded
while less than a dozen men were present.
384-389, audio VIII a: From the Western Wall, we walked up onto the Temple Mount.
There, we saw two Muslim mosques. Photographs are not allowed inside either one.
Also there are King Solomon's stables which the Muslims have closed to the public.
The temple became pagan when conquered by the Romans and remained so until Byzantine
rule. The Byzantines wanted to forget the Temple Mount and make the Church of
the Holy Sepulcher the center of Christianity throughout the world. The Temple
Mount was abandoned and used for a garbage dump.
The first mosque, with its almost black dome, is the Al
Aqsa Mosque. It was built in A.D. 691. Dr. Theon showed us the bullet mark on a
column inside made by the assassin who killed Jordan's King Abdullah. The King's
grandson, later to be King Hussein, ran the gunman down and beat on him until
the police pulled him away. The mosque is full of adornments and decorations donated
by rich Jewish families all over the world. Oriental carpets cover the floor.
The mosque has suffered by earthquakes and more recently by an Australian who
hid in it and then set fire to it.
are still under way today. The other mosque we entered, with its gold dome, is
the Mosque of Omar or the Dome of the Rock. It is here that Muslims think that
Abraham nearly sacrificed Ishmael. Jews and Christians think Isaac. It is also
here that the Muslims believe Mohammed finished his night trip and ascended. Inside,
as the name implies, is the tip of the rock (Mount Moriah) where it is believed
sacrifices were made. In a lower level, channels where the blood ran down to the
valley may be seen carved into the rock. Dr. Theon told us that this is the place
where more blood sacrifices were made than any other place in history. In this
mosque, also, is kept the beard of the prophet (Mohammed) enshrined in a special
390-402, audio VIIIab: Leaving the Temple Mount, we walked through narrow streets
over which was once the priest bridge built by King Herod. This street and the
Cardo or main street separates the four quarters of Jerusalem: Jewish, Muslim,
Armenian and Christian.
We proceeded to a place known as Burnt House. There, twenty-five feet below the
Jewish Quarter, is the excavation of a home destroyed during the A.D. 70 destruction
of Jerusalem. This house was believed to have belonged to a high priest (Kathros
as mentioned in the Talmud). The charred beams and broken pottery of this house
was the first clear evidence discovered for the burning of Jerusalem in the first
century. The Jewish historian, Josephus, mentions the tunnels in which the inhabitants
hid during the siege. Burnt house included one such drainage tunnel that may have
been used for this purpose. There, also, was displayed, a coin mold used to make
Photo 403-404, audio VIII b: We
proceeded from Burnt House past the Broad Wall. It is a section of Hezekiah's
eight meter high wall which has been uncovered. In a hasty attempt to protect
himself and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the Assyrians, Hezekiah built the
wall to expand Jerusalem's protected boundary. Built in the late eighth century,
the wall is seven meters thick. Isaiah 22:10-11 refers to breaking down the houses
of Jerusalem to construct this wall. Visible in the wall are the remains of a
former home. The wall goes through it and it is believed that the portions torn
down were used as building materials to construct the wall.
405-406, audio VIII b: As we proceeded along, we paused in the Cardo or Main Street
underneath the current city of Jerusalem. The street is currently shops and businesses
just as it was in the time of Jesus. The street represents clearly the thoughts
of those who have controlled Jerusalem. As it proceeds along, it becomes narrower.
The Romans built very wide and elaborate boulevards and their columns still stand.
The Crusaders or Turkish built medium width streets and the Crusader arches are
still there. The Arabs felt that a street was wide enough if two donkeys could
pass and so the Cardo becomes very narrow. It is thought that the Roman section
of the Cardo would have been the likely route Jesus would have taken from Caiaphas'
palace to the Antonia to be tried before Pilate.
Photo 407, audio VIII b: We continued on and paused in
front of a Byzantine mosaic. It depicted the city of Jerusalem but with something
missing. The Temple Mount was not included and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher
was moved more nearly toward center. As we stood here listening to our guide,
a group of children on a field trip passed by. They were accompanied by an armed
guard. We inquired. The guide told us that school children are a likely target
| 12th Century Crusader Arch|
Photo 408-412, audio VIII b: We left the city through the Zion Gate and walked
to the traditional site of the upper room, the Coenaculum. It is in a Crusader
church built over an earlier church that had been destroyed. There is nothing
there from the time of Jesus, from the ground up. Still, we were very near the
place of the last supper. The church became a Muslim Mosque and the niche marking
the way toward Mecca is still there, as are the 12th century Crusader arches. There,
we ceremoniously read scripture and sang as did other groups in their own language.
Photo 413-415, audio VIIIb:
We then walked a short distance to the traditional site of the tomb of David.
The church was built in the fourth century. It may very well be, though, that
David's tomb is on the Ophel with other Israelite kings.
416-419, audio VIII b: We reboarded our bus and headed out for the Mount of Olives
across the Kidron valley. We stopped at the Church of the Ascension on the Mount
of Olives. It is a very small structure. Inside is revealed a small section of
stone that is said to be the point of Jesus' ascension. It was first a Byzantine
chapel celebrating Acts 1:9. In the seventh century, the Arabs made it into a
mosque including the niche pointing the way to Mecca. It was turned into a crusader
church in the 12th century.
420-429, audio VIII b: From the Church of the Ascension, the bus took us to the
road Jesus reportedly traveled for His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus walked up the
Mount of Olives, no small task. We walked down. As, we walked down, we stopped
at an observation point to make a group photograph.
This point overlooked the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries
of the Mount of Olives. These are believed to be the first to be resurrected.
I now understand our guide's earlier comment. Jews have come to Jerusalem for
centuries not to live but to die. We saw Jews doing ritual hand washing in the
mud puddles along the road. I was surprised to see a Jewish man turn toward the
Cemetery wall and urinate.
we could also see the Church of Dominus Flevit commemorating where Jesus stopped
and wept over Jerusalem's destiny. The roof of the structure is shaped like a
teardrop. The Dome of the Rock also lies before us, the Eastern Gate, the Christian
Quarter and the eastern wall of the City of David.
| Olive Tree|
Garden of Gethsemene
Photo 430-443, VIIIa-over previous: We walked down the road from there to the
Church of all Nations at the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, in this former working
garden, is ancient olive trees thought to go back to the time of Jesus. As an
olive tree grows older, it looses its heart. The trees are hollow inside. Our
guide told us the story of trees gathering to ask the olive tree why it did not
loose its leaves when Jesus died. The olive tree responded, "You made a show
by loosing your leaves. I lost my heart."
The Franciscans own the garden today as well as the church. The Church of all
Nations is so named because of its roof made of twelve domes commemorating each
of the nations who contributed to its construction.
The United States seal appears
in one of them. It is also known as the Church of Agony for obvious reasons. It
is there that Jesus reportedly sweated "as drops of blood" and asked that the cup pass from
Him. Therefore, the windows are alabaster so that the inside of the church will
not receive much light. The church was built over a Crusader church which was
built over a Byzantine church.
We read from Luke 22:39-46 before going in. Inside, a Franciscan
keeps watch over the facility. Talking is not allowed.
| Alter-Garden of Gethsemane #2 |
were allowed. Exposed, at the altar, is the rock which is the traditional site
of Jesus' prayers. As some knelt at the rock, Dr. Theon lead the group in a hymn.
Much to everyone's surprise, the Franciscan said, "Thank you."
No photos allowed, audio VIIIa-over previous: The bus took
us to our next stop, the Shrine of the Book. There, the findings at Qumran are
kept. The museum's structure symbolizes the findings stored inside. The black
and white monoliths are representative of one of the scrolls, the War of the Sons
of Light against the Sons of Darkness (The War Scroll). The entrance and initial
exhibits are in the form of a cave. The dome, over the main scroll exhibits, is
shaped like the lid of the jar in which they were found. Two of the jars are part
of the exhibits.
portion of the museum contains the findings of the caves of Bar Kochba, the last
Jewish revolt. These are a group of letters written by this Jewish leader. Also,
displayed are the contents of a poor woman's purse and some thirty-five legal
documents. The scrolls displayed are original except for the Isaiah Scroll for
which a facsimile is displayed. The guide left us to our reading of the placards
at each display. We were running late and not much time was spent here (see Day
9 - I returned for the English tour). We would also skip the other museums as
they were to close in less than an hour.
| Holocaust Children's Memorial|
We made one final stop where we saw the memorial to the Jewish children killed
by the Nazis in World War II. My trip to Poland last summer allowed me to see
this in much greater detail. I spent less than fifteen minutes there. The memorial
is a set of quiet chambers through which one walks as the names of the children
are read, one at a time and endlessly. Our guide told us that only a fraction
of the names have been gathered.
After dinner, Dr. Hillberry lectured concerning the typography of Jerusalem. The
Mount of Olives, he said, was the obstacle between the people and their fleeing
to the wilderness. He also spoke of the affect of the city on Jesus' life. The
Church of All Nations made a good end to the formal tour.
Tomorrow is a free day
and we may choose what we will do. I plan to go to the Israeli museum, the Bible
Lands museum and back to the Shrine of the Book.
Bedtime came 11:00 p.m.
Day 8, Monday, January 8, 1996
Today, I slept until 9:00 a.m. No bus,
no luggage, no group. Wonderful! My first stop would be the Bible Lands Museum.
I called down for a cab. When I entered the lobby, a man approached me and asked
if I needed a cab. I said yes. Bad move. Wrong cab. He took me to the museum (a
four dollar cab ride) but he demanded twenty-five dollars. I had been kidnapped. He kept moving the
cab and would not let me out. Finally, I paid him fifteen dollars to get out.
I knew I had been taken. I was glad he didn't transport me to the Judean desert.
The Bible Lands museum
had just opened but the English guide had not arrived. A Jewish man from Boston
and I waited and were finally told that the English guide would not be coming
today. We informed them that each of us was spending his last day in Israel and
would like to have the tour. Would it be possible later in the day? To our surprise,
we got the director of guides, who spoke English. She decided that she would give
us the tour, herself. The museum was not what I expected. It contained many beautiful
artifacts primarily from the lands surrounding Israel. Very little within the
exhibits came from the so-called "Holy Land." This makes the name of the museum a bit misleading
in my opinion.
are a donated private collection of a man whose primary interest was cylinder
seals. These seals were used to make markings on various things by rolling them
in not yet hardened clay or other material. The seals themselves reveal much about
life in ancient times. Religious practices, gods, and daily life are all depicted
on these seals. Many other types of seals and many other artifacts are housed
in this museum.
From here, I walked a short distance to the Israel Museum
where I had lunch. The exhibits of the Israel museum are much like any museum
of history and art. I found that these artifacts, especially the coins were interesting
to see, but I could not keep from thinking about the Shrine of the Book I had
seen so briefly just yesterday. After a very brief time (no tour) in this museum,
I inquired at the information desk concerning the English tour for the Shrine
of the Book. I was informed I just had time to walk over and make it.
The Israeli (English speaking) guide
at the museum gathered us together and began. The museum is two exhibits, the
Dead Sea Scrolls and the items found from the second Jewish revolt with the Romans.
The scrolls were discovered in caves above Qumran, near the Northwestern shores
of the Dead Sea. There were eighteen caves in which the scrolls were discovered.
The first discovery was made by a Bedouin boy searching for a goat. She made the
interesting comment that it is not known until this day whether or not the boy
ever found his goat.
The cave contained seven jars. The boy took the seven jars
to Bethlehem and sold them to an antique dealer who subsequently became rich and
famous. The antique dealer tried to sell the scrolls to the Hebrew University.
In 1947, one year before the establishment of the State of Israel, an interest
in antique scrolls did not exist. The establishment and protection of the Israeli
state was much more important. A professor of the Hebrew University realized what
may have been found and tried to buy them himself. He was only able to raise enough
money to buy three, hoping to one day return for the rest. Meanwhile, war broke
out. The Arab countries attacked and as a result, Bethlehem was occupied by Jordan.
The connection between Jerusalem and Bethlehem was broken preventing the professor
from going back for the other scrolls.
Seven years later, the professor's son happened to be in New York and saw a newspaper
ad: "The Four Dead Sea Scrolls, Biblical manuscripts dating back to at least 200
BC, are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution
by an individual or group. Box F 206, The Wall Street Journal." Through an intermediary,
he discovered that the ad was genuine and that the price was one million dollars.
Knowing that the sale would not be possible to an Israeli, he negotiated through
a second party and obtained the scrolls for $250,000 dollars reuniting all seven
The scrolls had
been placed in the caves by the Essenes. The museum guide's explanation of them
was much the same as our guide's explanation at Qumran. She described the settlement,
the cisterns, the ritual baths and the scriptorium in much the same way. She warned
that some, but only a few, scholars have other theories about the settlement.
Our tour included an ink well, one of four, found in the scriptorium. We viewed
two of the jars in which the scrolls were found. The guide reminded us that this
practice was at least as old as Jeremiah who also put documents in a clay jar.
There are two types of
scrolls, biblical and non-biblical. The non-biblical essays reveal to us ancient
doctrine and the political climate of the day. The scrolls are written in the
Hebrew still used today, she said. First, we stopped at the manual of discipline.
It describes the rules of the day including the rules for acceptance into the
sect. All belongings were given up. Acceptance came after a two year trial. Not
marrying was part of the rules. We stopped at the scroll of ‘The war of the Sons
of Light against the Sons of Darkness’ (poor condition). Of course, they were
the Sons of Light. The Sons of Darkness were their enemies, the Jewish religious
establishment and others. The final war would last forty years and of course,
the children of light would prevail.
The guide spoke of the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned by the Essenes. He was
always in conflict with the wicked priests. She said that the theory that this
teacher might be Jesus was dispelled when it was discovered the scrolls mentioning
the Teacher of Righteousness dates to the second century C.E. The Temple Scroll
contained a description of how to build the temple of Jerusalem. The temple built
by King Herod existed at that time. The Essenes rejected that temple and never
went to it. It was interesting to hear that their idea of the ideal society included
a King with only one wife. This was the earliest recorded mention of a monogamous
relationship. Also, the idea that the king cannot put his wife aside is mentioned
in the Temple Scroll.
The Scroll of the Book of Psalms contains more than 150 Psalms (our Bible has
150). There were thirty scrolls of the book of Psalms. Over eight hundred scrolls
have been discovered. We looked at the facsimile of the Isaiah Scroll. The original
is in a vault at the Rockefeller Museum of Israel. The Isaiah Scroll contained
all sixty-six chapters of the book of Isaiah. It is the oldest complete copy discovered
thus far. The oldest Bible prior to the Dead Sea Scrolls dates to the tenth century.
She said that this moved us very close to the compilation of the Hebrew Bible.
Many in the group questioned that statement. The text of the scrolls is remarkably
the same as our current Bible.
We then viewed the oldest Bible available prior to the Dead Sea discoveries. It
is written in Hebrew and dates to the tenth century. It was written in Tiberias.
It is a codex (book form). The basement of the exhibit contains artifacts found
in caves south of Qumran from the second Jewish Revolt (132 AD). Incense shovels,
baskets, house keys, glass, pottery, cooking utensils, bronze coins and so forth
to the Hotel, with an honest cab driver this time. He said three or four dollars.
I gave him seven and told him the story. He apologized on behalf of cab drivers
everywhere. After dinner, we discovered that we had been snowed out of America
and should go to bed and listen for further instructions tomorrow.
at 11:30 p.m.
Day 9, 10 and 11, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
January 9-11, 1996
have become stranded victims of the winter storm of 1996. The New York Airport
is closed. We were to leave Tel Aviv 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, Israel time. Our
journey home required from 11:00 p.m. Tuesday (Louisville time) until 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, the details of which are not a fitting subject for this journal.
and Dad left for home themselves within ten minutes of depositing me at the house.
It is about supper time but my biological clock tells me it is 1:00 a.m. in Tel
Aviv. Scott (twelve years old) put me to bed. Joni called but I cannot remember
Unconscious by 7:00 p.m.
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