[The group has now returned home after a long day of travel from Tamar in the Negev to Tel Aviv to fly through Newark to Chicago and finally a bus ride to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I took a day to recover, and now I am teaching a summer session Jesus and the Gospels course, but I thought one final travel report was necessary.]
The highlight for most of the students on the drive from the desert was a stop near Beersheva for one more visit to Aroma Coffee, but we did stop at the Valley of Elah for a short walk in the general area of the well-known battle between David and Goliath (1 Sam 17). We talked about the story for a few minutes and most people took a stone or two from the dry river bed. I have often wondered where all those stones come from, since every American tourist seems to take a handful home with them.
We spent our last four hours in the Old City. Some of the students revisited the Holy Sepulcher, others walked back to the Western Wall, and a few went all the way to the Pool of Bethesda. I visited the Tower of David exhibition just inside the Jaffa Gate with Josh and Lisa Tweist. I have never gone through this site before and it was well worth the shekels. They have done a nice job making use of the limited space to present Jerusalem from the Hasmonean era through Herodian, Crusader and Ottoman periods. We were in a bit of a rush since the Museum closed at 3PM, but were able to seem most of the outside displays.
There are two maps of Jerusalem within the site, one small model of Jerusalem at the time of Herod is designed like the National Park models. It is rather small, but should give some basic orientation to the Old City. Near the exit is a larger model created in the later 1800s by Stephen Illés. This is a fascinating map since it is a model of the city as it was seen by Illés in 1864-1873, showing the height of Robinson’s Arch for example. For anyone who has been around the Old City for a while, this model is worth visit.
After the Tower of David I visited the Christ’s Church bookstore and then camped in their coffee shop for an hour and a half for some quiet reading and espresso before getting to the airport for the late flight back to the states. Overall, this was one of the best student trips I have had the pleasure of leading. The students were always interested and excited about what we did each day and asked great questions.
Now that I am back, I plan on editing the previous dozen posts (writing on an iPad is always an adventure!) I will also add a few more pictures for days I was unable to transfer my photos, so check back in a few days for some updates.