Our stay in Jerusalem began with a walk to and around the Old City. In the morning we went on a tour through the tunnels that ran under the Muslim quarter and along the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. The city was built up upon platforms so there is room underneath the homes and businesses to walk around close to the foundations.
There’s something about touching stone that is thousands of years old. Imagining what it was like for the 150,000 slaves and 30,000 free workers who built Herod’s temple was a stretch. It was hard to figure out how they managed to move the one stone that comprised the Wall because it was—wait for it—560 tons.
Let’s digress for a moment and ponder how heavy that is. When fully loaded at take-off, the massively huge A380 Airbus airplane we flew out on weighs as much as 110 adult elephants, which coincidentally is about 560 tons. I’ll let you think about that and then imagine a bunch of ancient slaves heaving that up Mount Moriah and into place. I walked up that hill from the valley with just a back pack and thought I was going to faint.
As we walked through the narrow tunnel and touched the ancient wall, we got closer to the holiest place for the Jews. Why so holy? Well, back several thousand years ago when Abraham was living in this land, God told him to sacrifice his youngest son Isaac. Abraham was going through with God’s command but was stopped by God at the last minute. It was on that sacrificial rock that the inner most room of the temple was built and where the ark of the convent was kept. (You remember Indiana Jones, right?)
Only one guy could go in to see the ark and only once a year. The room was called the holy of holies. The closest place to the holy of holies along the walls of the Temple Mount, is a spot in the tunnels. Not everyone can go there at will, so most people pray along the plaza of the Western Wall.
We also went to the plaza area. It was separated into two sections, one for men and the other for women. Standing there, touching it and looking up at how high it was and being so close to something so ancient and so famous throughout the world was a unique experience. My parents and I wrote out blessings or prayers and placed them in the cracks of the walls. Our guide said those notes are considered holy and are collected and buried.
We beheld so many historical places on our trip through the Old City that it can’t be told all at once. So for now, I’ll end with our quick trip to the museum which was very nice—a good place for visiting if you make it to Israel when peace is at hand.
We were pretty tired after a day of walking and decided to drive over to the Israel museum. Nice and cool, out of the 100 degree heat, we strolled through more ancient relics, artifacts, anthropods (kind of like an Egyptian sarcophagus), ossuaries, and more. We viewed an amulet with a scripture from Numbers, and some of the Dead Sea scrolls that were actually the book of Isaiah.
To keep costs down we stopped at a market and picked up some dinners and snacks and Israel wine and enjoyed a nice meal on our terrace patio.