Israel-Day Eight

Mount of Olives & Temple Mount

History

Abraham came here, specifically to Mount Moriah (temple mount) from Hebron.  At the time, the area Jerusalem is in today was a Jebusite city.  Where the old city is today, there was no city then.  Today, the Dome of the Rock (Muslim) stands where it is believed that Abraham “sacrificed” Isaac.  David came to the city and decided he would make it his capital city.  He defeated it and started the City of David which is just south of Mount Moriah.

His son Solomon built the temple on Mount Moriah, but it was destroyed in 586 BC by Nebuchadnezzar when he took the Jews into Babylonian captivity.  Jeremiah then came back and rebuilt the walls of the city and the temple.  In 336 BC, Alexander the Great came through this area and performed a sacrifice to the God worshipped here, as a token of reverence.  In 164 BC, the Hasmonians (Jewish priestly class, also called the Maccabees) battled against the Greeks and pushed them out of Jerusalem.  This is the start of the Holiday Hanukah.  The Jews wiped the temple away and started to rebuilt it from scratch in 19 BC, although it didn’t have very much pomp.  They allowed anyone to come onto the Temple Mount, but only Jews could go into the temple.

Herod built “the second temple” which was very magnificent.  In 70 AD Titus burned the temple after the Jewish revolt.  After this, the Jewish people were forbidden to enter Jerusalem.  The Romans then called the area Palestina.  They put a temple here to Jupiter, which lasted until 326 when Helena came and turned the area “Christian.”  She rebuilt the Church of the Holy Seplechre” where Jesus was supposedly crucified and buried.  At this point, Jews were allowed to come by paying a special tax.  The temple was turned into a garbage dump.  When the Muslims took over, they made the Christians move the garbage, and in 691 they built the Dome of the Rock.  Although the Jews do not have good control over the temple mount, they won’t blow it up because the Muslims have done a good job of taking care of it for 1500 years.

Temple Mount from Mount of Olives

Gates (7 of 11 are usable today)

Golden Gate—also called the Eastern Gate, leads into the court of women in the temple—closed.
Eastern Gate—to the right of the Golden Gate, also called the “Flower Gate”—closed.
Dung Gate—South of the Temple Mount, main entrance to the “Western wall,” or “Wailing Wall”
Zion Gate—South side, Eastern half, entry to Armenian Quarter.  Full of bullet holes from 1948 when the Jews tried to rescue the Jews trapped inside the Old City.
Jaffa Gate—Eastern side, main road to Joppa, Tower of David is right inside.
Damascus Gate—“Stephen’s Gate,” where Stephen was stoned.

Burials

In first century burial customs, bodies were buried for a year.  After a year the families would come and gather the bones and put them in a “bone box” which was then placed in a small tomb.  It is interesting to not that when a Jew is buried, his feet face Jerusalem, and when a Muslim is buried, his feet face south to Mecca.  Modern Jewish tombs stick above ground, although the body is underground.  Rocks are placed on the tomb instead of flowers.

Garden of Gethsemane

In the garden, Jesus sweated great drops of blood, the disciples slept.  There are a lot of olive trees, and it is very beautiful.  We entered a private garden across the street from a huge church which houses the stone where Jesus supposedly wept.  After Jesus wept here, he was taken to Caiaphas’ house, near the City of David.

Garden of Gethsemane

Valleys

The Valley of Kidron—also known as the “Valley of Jehosophat,” means “He will Judge.”  It runs between the old city and Mount of Olives.
The Valley of Gehenna, or Hinnon—many have been buried here, it was the city dump.  Many criminals were killed here.  A fire burned here perpetually to keep down the stench.  Judas killed himself here in the “Field of Blood.”

House of Caiaphas

There is a prison underneath the house of Caiaphas, as well as a cistern.  It is known that high priority prisoners were kept in cisterns.  Jesus would have most likely walked up a set of steps we saw to get to Caiaphas’ house.

The actual steps Jesus would have walked up to Caiphas’ house.

Via Dolorosa

V.  Jesus puts his hand on the wall, the wall here is very shiny!
VI. “St.” Veronica wipes the brow of Jesus
VII. Post turn gate which we were able to see inside a well preserved private church.  Back then, it was on the west side of the city.  This would be the “Judgment Gate” where judgments would be made.
IX. Jesus fell for the third time.
X-XIV Inside the church of the Holy Sepulcher

Jesus supposedly put his hand here

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

VERY CREEPY!  The church supposedly houses Golgotha as well as several tombs.  About four different religions argue over the church.  There is a rock that is split in half, as well as the slab of stone Jesus was supposedly laid on after being taken down from the cross.

The Garden Tomb

Golgotha, right outside the Damascus gate, means “The Place of the Skull.”  The hill definitely has the look of a skull to it.  It is located on a very popular road in Jesus’ day.  The place was used as a rock quarry in Solomon’s day, as well as for executions by both the Romans and Jews.  The tomb had a window in it, typical of tombs of the period because they believed the soul left the body 3 days after death.  It is sure that a rich man owned this garden because of the large water cistern present, and the winepress.

Garden Tomb

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