Thurs, June 20
The Bible came alive for us today as we started our tour from the port of Ashdod in Israel heading to Jerusalem which is a city sacred to three major religions.
Our first stop was to see the Tomb of King David atop Mount Zion. Men and women entered from separate sides to view the impressive tomb.
The next stop was to the Western or Wailing Wall, the only remaining piece of Jerusalem’s Second Temple. This is the most holy Jewish site in the world, where people come to place their written prayers within the cracks between its massive stones. Men and women were segregated once again. (We have since heard that there was an incident there the day after our visit where someone was shot and killed but no other details.)
Also in this vicinity were boys’ celebrating their Barmiszvah’s, being the Thursday following their 13th birthdays. Several boys were with their male relatives at the Western Wall with the women standing on plastic chairs to see them over the dividing wall. They were then taken through the streets under a canopy with their families all singing and playing music.
Moving on, we saw the room where the Last Supper took place as well as where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. Next was the Garden of Gethsemane with olive trees many centuries old. Jesus was praying in this garden when he was arrested.
We then entered the Church of the Holy Sepulchre – this 12th century church contains quite a number of chapels and shrines. Among the most important places are the elevated Chapel of the Cross, marking Calvary and I was able to touch the nearby Stone where Jesus’ body was laid when He was taken from the cross and prepared for burial. Under a large rotunda is the location of the Tomb of Christ, covered by a small chapel and is also the site of the Resurrection. We also visited the nearby Church of All Nations, relatively modern in comparison and built by all the nations of the world.
After such a busy morning, we stopped for lunch then continued on to walk through the old Jewish Quarter, from north to south and east to west. This included the Via Dolorosa (or Sorrowful Way) tracing the Stations of the Cross. Christ’s route from the seat of judgement to his crucifixion at Calvary.
Finally, on the way back to the ship we saw the field where David met Goliath. We had an excellent tour guide who entertained us with many stories from the bible. Such an awe-inspiring day.