Day #10: Were You There?
Today concluded our fourth and final day in Jerusalem. Our group is getting a little travel weary. We have been going steady from 6am-7pm. But, we have been learning and seeing so much. It's honestly difficult to take it all in. Everyone's doing well and getting along! :-)
City of David
We visited the "City of David" today. The City of David, of course, is Jerusalem. But, we visited the original City of David. Jerusalem began during the days of Abraham as an impressive Canaanite city. About 3000 years ago, King David left his city of Hebron to seek and unite the people of Israel around one capital city.
2 Samuel 5:6-10
 And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who said to David, “You will not come in here, but the blind and the lame will ward you off”—thinking, “David cannot come in here.”  Nevertheless, David took the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David.  And David said on that day, “Whoever would strike the Jebusites, let him get up the water shaft to attack ‘the lame and the blind,’ who are hated by David’s soul.” Therefore it is said, “The blind and the lame shall not come into the house.”  And David lived in the stronghold and called it the city of David. And David built the city all around from the Millo inward.  And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.
David's soldiers, led by Joab, went up the Gihon Springs water shaft and took the city. Here is a picture of that shaft that we saw today:
David made it the capital of a prosperous and powerful kingdom. Solomon, his son, built the Temple on the summit of Mount Moriah, the place where Isaac was bound, and thus Jerusalem became a political, religious and spiritual capital for the people of Israel as a whole.
 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.
In the City of David, a later King of Judah, King Hezekiah, was threatened by the Assyrians and he built a tunnel to redirect the waters from the Gihon Springs. (II Kings 20:20; II Chron. 32:30). We were able to see those tunnels today.
Later this reservoir of water that Hezekiah rerouted into the city into "Hezekiah's Pool" became the Pool of Siloam, at the time of Christ. We were able to see where the Hezekiah's tunnel dumped into the pool.
Pool of Siloam
Jesus healed a man born blind at the Pool of Siloam according to John 9:1-11. They are busy unearthing these pools, even today.
The Southern Steps to the Temple
We were able to visit the Southern Steps of the temple today. The lower steps are the actual steps cut into the rock of Mount Moriah, where Abraham was ready to offer his only Son, Isaac. These steps were likely the steps the Levites would sing the Psalms of Ascents as they entered the temple.
Where Was Jesus Christ Crucified?
We visited two different sites this week, both of which are believed to be the location that Jesus Christ was crucified. We also visited two different sites this week, both of which are believed to be the location that Christ was buried. That can be both confusing to people visiting Jerusalem, as well as a bit disappointing. I think every believer who visits Jerusalem wants to have that thrilling "at the cross" and "I found the empty tomb!" moment. But, we really don't know for sure.
There are two locations that are proposed. We visited both.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre
In the fourth century A.D. the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built at the site that was identified as Golgotha and the burial tomb by the Roman Emperor Constantine's mother, Helena.
2. Gordon's Calvary
Calvary: The Place of the Skull
This location outside the city walls was first proposed in the mid-nineteenth century, and it was popularized by a man named Charles Gordon. That's why it is called, "Gordon's Calvary." It was first mentioned in 1878 by Captain Claude Conder in his "Tent Work in Palestine," that he believed the real site of Calvary was to be found on a rocky knoll outside the northern wall and close to the cave known as "Jeremiah's Grotto." It is just "without the gate" now called "the Damascus Gate." It is a rocky precipice about 50 feet high, and about five hundred feed from the city wall. The Jews had designated this knoll as the "place of stoning." And, the skull appears to have the striking resemblance of a human skull.
The Garden Tomb:
The tomb that the gospels describe places it in a garden. A wine press was discovered close by the garden tomb.
The garden tomb doesn't appear to have been completely finished, yet it has been occupied.
The garden tomb appears to have been intended for a Jew, and for a rich and influential one.
Though built for a Jew, it was a an object of sacred reverence for early Christians. It was a location for Christian worship and is surrounded by Christian tombs.
It is in close proximity to what appears to be Golgotha.
The garden tomb has a frescoed cross that seems to be first century and connects the tomb closely to Christ.
Why don't we know for sure?
I think we should answer the question with a question. What would we do with these locations if we did know for sure? No doubt, many would worship them. We would surely make idols out of these relics. Sadly, that is what is happening at the Church of the Holy Sepluchre.
We enjoyed a time of a Scripture lesson, communion and singing after touring the garden tomb.
Today was our last day with our tour guide, Ronnie.
We will meet our next tour guide tomorrow.
We learned so much from Ronnie.
Tomorrow, we travel to southern Israel, then, on to Jordan.
Thanks for your prayers and interest in our travel!
BONUS-Outside the Western Wall