We began this morning in Jerusalem at the Jaffa Gate for a walk around the ramparts of the Old City.
We went down to the Roman Damascus gate, but a great deal of the wall was covered in scaffolding. Still, we went up the narrow stairs and finished the rampart walk. As a side note, the ticket taker at the Damascus gate is serious about his post. There is a little museum there, and if you do not have a ticked, he does not want you to take photos or even look at the place. He followed us to the stairs to make sure no one broke the rules.
On the second leg of the Rampart walk you get a good view of the Garden Tomb and Gorden’s Calvary. I was able to answer many of the common questions people have about the two burial sites for Jesus, the Garden Tomb and the Holy Sepulcher. The Garden Tomb is as likely a spot as the Sepulcher, but does not have the ancient witnesses. Still, there is something deep within my evangelical, Protestant heart that prefers the Garden Tomb. I look forward to our time of worship and communion there on Friday.
We still had some time to look at the pool at Bethesda. I read from John 5 and commented on the archaeology we were seeing at that moment. There is a Roman pool, dedicated to their god of healing and a mikveh to provide ritual cleanliness for Jews. Jesus presents himself as an alternative to both, healing the man directly.
After the pool of Bethesda we had lunch at the Pizzaria Basti, near the third station of the cross. The meal was good and fairly priced, thirty shekels for pizza (or shwarma, falafel, or kabob). I particularly enjoyed the Turkish coffee.
After lunch we visited the Western Wall plaza. There was quite a crowd since there were a few bar-mitzvah parties going on, but it was great for everyone to see the traditional readings and here the young men reading the Torah. We even had a proud father share sweets with us.
We then had an adventure in the Arab markets, several purchases were made, the cultural experience is always good. Despite what you may hear, I was never lost in the maze of shops, I merely took the scenic route.