Feb 10, 2020
Day 8 of the Holy Land Pilgrimage was our walking tour through Jerusalem. Even though we did a lot of walking and I’m tired, walking the wall yesterday was more strenuous than what we did today. My step counting app says that today I did nearly 9,000 steps (3.5 miles) compared to yesterday’s 11,000 steps. So….where did we walk?
Our first site was the corner of two walls. It would have been easy to pass by. However, Ezra, our guide, had us stop. He explained that this corner is significant for two reasons. First, this was the southwest corner of the temple, and there used to be a large tower at the top where someone would stand and blow the shofar (ram’s horn) as a call to prayer. The tower was called the pinnacle of the temple. That was the spot of one of Jesus’ temptations. Second, right outside these walls is where the moneychangers were located. They were selling animals people could buy to sacrifice in the temple. Jesus overturned their tables on his way into the temple.
Speaking of the walls of the temple, we walked a little further and saw The Western Wall. It was amazing to be in this place and say a prayer at the wall. Here’s a fun thing I learned about the wall. Typically, in pictures we’ve seen of the wall, there are crowds of people in the courtyard area praying. However, on cold days like today, there is a heated indoor area where people can pray at the wall too. In the picture, it is just through the small arch on the bottom of the adjacent wall. The western wall continues inside the building. Notice that the courtyard is basically empty in the picture. It was much more crowded inside.
Around the corner from the Western Wall, Ezra pointed out a pile of rubble. Again, it could be easy to pass by. However, he told us that this is rubble from the destruction of the temple in 70AD! Think about when the disciples said to Jesus, “Look, Master, what massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” (Mark 13:1)
After the Western Wall, we saw the Dome of the Rock on Mount Moriah. Contrary to what most people think, this dome is not a mosque. It is a place where Muslims can come in for private prayer, but there are no services led there. Those take place in the mosque right across the courtyard from it. The location of the Dome of the Rock is not only the place where Muslims say Muhammed was taken to Heaven and given the Quran. It is also the place that is said to be where Abraham offered Issac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22). According to Muslims, though, Abraham offered Ishmael instead of Isaac. (Remember, Jews and Christians trace our line through Isaac. Muslims trace their line through Ishmael.)
We then made a quick stop at The Church of St Anne, a church that celebrates Anne – Mary’s mother and Jesus’ grandmother. (Anne was also the one to whom Martin Luther prayed when he was caught in the thunderstorm.) It was a very simple church that had a small grotto in the basement that is supposedly where Mary was born.
After seeing The Church of St Anne, we made our way through all 14 stations of the Via Dolorosa. I took way too many pictures along the route to post here. From start to finish, it took us about an hour to walk through all 14 stations and briefly stop at each one. On the sign in the picture, notice that it’s written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. All of the signs around here are written that way.
After the Via Dolorosa, we stopped at a small restaurant for lunch. For our other meals, pop has not been included with our meal. However, at this one, it came with the meal. So now I have an empty Diet Coke can written in Arabic – which is cool.
After lunch, we spent some time looking at some amazing art in an artistic section of town. Then we quickly looked at each of the four quarters of the old city: Muslim, Christian, Armenian, and Jewish. I didn’t take many pictures along this part of the walk. We wrapped up our walking tour by seeing the Church of St Peter in Gallicantu. “Gallicantu” comes from the Latin word for “cock’s crow.” This is the place where Peter denied Jesus. In that same area, we went into the dungeon that Jesus was thrown into before he was taken to Pilate. It was a small space (maybe 20 feet by 20 feet) where the 25 us of felt a little cramped. It was a surreal experience to think we were in the same dungeon where Jesus was held. When we left, we saw some ruins next to the building. Ezra explained that these are the ruins of Caiaphas’ courtyard. Caiaphas, of course, was the high priest involved in Jesus’ sentence. The stairs at the bottom of the picture (just on the other side of the fence) are the original stairs – which means Jesus walked on them as he was sent from Caiaphas on his way to Golgotha.
After that, we returned to the hotel for a break before dinner. We saw a lot of good sites on this walk – but I think I’m ready for a nap before it’s time to eat.
Thank you for continuing to follow me on this great adventure. I really appreciate your support and prayers. Thank you.