Israel – Part 12

After attending a four-day conference in the town next to Bethlehem I went to Old City Jerusalem.

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I entered through the Damascus Gate, dragging two suitcases over uneven stone pavements.

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Looking back at the same gate from inside the city.

I stayed two days and nights at Ecce Homo Pilgrim House operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion convent.

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The Pilgrim House in on the street called the Via Dolorosa, traditionally, the route Jesus walked from Pilate’s judgment hall to the place of execution.  The entrance to the Pilgrim House is on the right, under the Ecce Homo Arch, so called because somewhere near here Pilate presented Jesus to the Jewish authorities, saying, “Behold the man!” John 19:5

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Several floors below the Pilgrim House you can see and walk on the Lithostrotos, or Gabbatha, an ancient stone pavement like the one (or the actual one?) where Pilate sat when he ordered Jesus to be  crucified. See John 19:13.

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The Pilgrim House has several roof terraces with dramatic views of the old and new city. Here you see on the right to gold roof of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

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We are now at the courtyard and entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of Jesus’ burial.

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The specific traditional site is inside this shrine.

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A few steps away from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, where I attended an organ concert.

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Here is the well-known scene of the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, in the very center of the photo. The area above it is the Temple Mount, with the gold-topped Dome of the Rock. As you have been noticing from my blogs this Dome is the central feature of the Old City. We have been seeing it from many different vantage points.

Muslims have control of the Temple Mount, and they allow only  a few non-Muslim visitors to the area and will not allow any non-Muslim to hold prayers there.

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A closer view of the men’s section of the Western Wall.

I also had various experiences outside the Old City.

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The Church of All Nations in the Garden of Gethsemane, just east of the Old City, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.

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Now we come to the Garden Tomb, two blocks outside the wall of the Old City, a site that many believe is the real place where Jesus was crucified and buried, not in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This place fits the descriptions given in the Gospels about the garden and tomb of Joseph of  Arimathea.

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At one end of the garden is a cliff that, with a bit of imagination, resembles a skull, which is the name of the place where Jesus was crucified – Golgotha.

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And here is the famous cave tomb in the garden. To visit this garden, and meditate and pray here, is a soul-refreshing experience.

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One day I took a taxi to modern Jerusalem to the small bird observation center located not far from the Knesset, the parliament building. I found, to my delight, that this is the start of the spring migration when 500 million birds pass through Israel on their way from Africa to Europe, and bird banding was in process.

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I was able to observe the banding of seven birds, including this Eurasian siskin, which is in the same genus as the Pine siskin we have in North America.

When you visit the Old City, you need to be prepared to do a lot of walking. One day my Smartphone recorded that I took 17,658 steps. (At home a big day may log 6,000 steps.) At the end of that day I was ready  to sit down and rest.

 

I was constantly thanking God for a good heart and good legs that kept me going.

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