Thanks for following along as Grace Bible College tours Israel and Jordan. The Dan Hotel is absolutely packed and there is almost no bandwidth for the free Internet connection in the evenings. I am therefore posting this the next morning, hopefully that is not a problem for the reader. I will get more pictures posted when I get to Galilee tomorrow night.
Everyone is healthy and happy, although it is still quite warm. I told the group that everything in Jerusalem is uphill, and they all agree with me now. Kodie Palmer thinks he can find his way around the old city now, so I am thinking of chilling by the pool and letting him guide the group…maybe not.
Day three began with a tour of The Garden Tomb. There are basically two suggested sites for the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. For most of Christianity, the Holy Sepulture is the place venerated by virtually everyone, except Protestants. The Garden Tomb was first suggested by Gordon in the late 19th century based on the fact there is a rocky face in an escarpment not far from the Damascus Gate (outside the city) and a nearby garden with a tomb. There seems to be evidence that the garden is first century, although I find it hard to believe that the “skull” was visible 2000 years ago. Nevertheless the Garden Tomb is an excellent place to think about the resurrection of Jesus, especially since our Garden Tomb host pointed out that the place is not the main point at all, but the person of Jesus. Our guided made this point by simply observing that the disciples themselves never return to the tomb in he gospel stories. Since Jesus is alive, the place of the tomb is not really of importance.
After reading the resurrection story in John and singing Amazing Grace, we set out for the Holy Sepulcher. I am not sure the contrast could have been more clear for the students. I did not check the liturgical calendar for non-Roman Catholic Churches, it is about the time of Easter for several of the groups which share the Holy Sepulcher. The pace was packed! The Coptic Chapel is usually ignored, but this week there was a constant flow of Egyptians. Our hotel has a huge group of Abyssinian Christians, and one member of our group met a Chaldean Christian. While the church was noisy, and the Christians generally rude (by polite American standards), it was quite amazing to see that range of Christian practice in a single place.
From the spectacle of the Church, we moved on to one of the more amazing archaeological sites in Jerusalem, The City of David. we chose to stick to the Canaanite “dry” tunnels, which was a good choice since there were several school groups going through Hezekiah’s Tunnel. The water was not that deep, but the idea of being in a narrow, pitch black tunnel with cold water knee deep and two hundred screaming kids is not my idea of a good time!
They have done a bit of work on the Shiloah Pool (pool of Siloam in the NT), as much as can be done without getting into the Orthodox Monestary’s back yard. We were able to see the end of the sewer used by the Zealots when Jerusalem fell in AD 70, and ther is quite a bit of Herodian stone exposed. I will write more on this later when I am not as presses for time.
The best improvement is a shuttle service back to either the City of David entrance or the Dung Gate. Best five shekels you will spend.
Tomorrow, the Mount of Olives.