Today has been one of the most amazing days I have ever experienced. I don’t think it’s truly possible to explain how it feels to see the Bible come to life. Honestly, I just don’t think a blog post will be able to convey what I am feeling in regard to this journey, so I will just share, in as much detail as possible, our history-filled day.
We didn’t have to travel far from our hotel to tour the City of David. Upon our arrival, we were met by our tour guide, Judah, who took us through an amazing ,archeological journey in just a short hour or so. We saw the city from the highest point on the observatory and then we were taken down below the visitor center to see a recent discovery: two walls of King David’s Palace. Among many things that have been uncovered in the past few years, perhaps one of the most amazing are two seals with the names of two of the Ministers who threw Jeramiah in a pit for declaring the City of David would fall. To me, such archeological proof of Biblical times was something that completely blew my mind.
From there, we walked to the largest and most recent dig happening in Jerusalem. This particular place was completely covered by a parking lot when they began the process. To this day, they have uncovered building remnants from almost every period in Jerusalem’s history, including the base of columns from Roman times and over 200 gold coins from the last Emperor to control Jerusalem in the Byzantine Empire, Heraclius, in 2008. The coins totaled the ‘salary’ of nearly 100 service-men at the time.
When they discovered these remains, they also discovered the under-ground water tunnel that existed during The Jewish War c. 67-70 AD. Jewish citizens of Jerusalem fled to these water tunnels that were underneath the main road in Jerusalem, but were eventually found by the Romans. Being inside of the tunnels was like going back in time; completely bizarre!
The next part of our day, to me, will be hard to top. We made our way out of the tunnels and up to the Western Wall (the Western side of the Temple Mount) in the Old City to visit what is arguably the most sacred site in the Jewish faith aside from the Temple Mount itself. I have never been so fully surrounded by the presence of God in my life. People from every country, in every part of the world have made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to place their hands and prayers on the Western Wall. I feeling was beyond overwhelming. As I sat at the base of the wall and wrote my thanksgivings and prayers for my life, my family and my friends, I was overcome with tears of joy for such a beautiful opportunity and experience. No matter what your faith, experiencing so many people from every walk of life, in one place, to pray to God is something completely indescribable. I feel like usually I am just a bit more eloquent, but words are seriously failing me now. Since we are here between the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is said in the Jewish faith that this is the time the God is the most accessible. That being said, I am positive that there is a reason for my being here this week.
As if we could fit any more in the day, we were honestly only half-way there. After lunch we were all so excited to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre located in the Christian Quarter of the Old City. On the way there, we were excited to learn that the “heart” of the Roman city, or the main “corridor” (road), still very much exists today. We walked along it until we hung a left that took us right to the Church of the “Resurrection,” the place where Jesus was crucified and is said to be the where Jesus was buried and thus also where he was resurrected. The Church is controlled by several Christian churches and secular entities that have been unchanged for centuries. While I must admit, walking inside was a bit overwhelming due to the amount of people, it was such a beautiful experience. I placed my hands on the stone where Jesus was laid to be dressed for burial. I’m not sure what else I could have asked for.
After our visit to the church, we were off to the Dead Sea…..so. freakin’. cool. After an hour (or so) bus ride, we were changed and walking in to the horizon. Floating in the 33% salt-filled sea was AMAZING! We were there just before sunset and the views of Jordan across the way were absolutely to die for. After some sea salt, some mud and some fun, we were back to the hotel for a quick change and off to dinner at the Psagot Winery in Psagot, Israel. The food was amazing, but I will say….we were certainly ready for bed by the end of it all!
And now, as I finish up breakfast here at the Mamilla hotel, I’m excited for our day between Jerusalem and, finally…Tel Aviv!