For the class I’m taking, the professor asked us to write these ‘impressions’, basically diary entries about what you did that day. I figured this would be the quickest way to relate every past day. I haven’t actually finished them yet (I’m way behind), but here are the first four.
July 3rd, 2012
On our first day we started with a walk through a King David area. While there, we saw a sculpture depicting David playing the harp. This was the first true piece of Israeli artistry I had seen and I was happily surprise by the craftsmanship and intricacy. From there, we traveled to the Upper Room which was one of many possible locations for the Last Supper and the Day of Pentecost. By now, the area had been turned into a Muslim gathering place which had one of the main structures facing toward Mecca. Again, the craftsmanship proved very beautiful and I took many pictures of the area. For the rest of the day we traveled throughout Herodian Jerusalem and marveled at the sights.
We walked along the Kidron Valley where we saw various sights including a tomb with a pyramid shaped roof. We also got to walk along the walls of the temple mount where we could see the Golden Gate. Admittedly, I was unfamiliar with many of the structures that we would be seeing but that didn’t detract from my interest in them. For example, at one point in the day we walked around and saw the temple mount. So many people were standing in the plaza area waiting to go inside or just looking around like we were.
At one point we traveled along the Via Dolorosa – the rumored sight of Jesus’ final trek toward the cross. I looked at the areas that labeled the stations in Latin and took pictures – even if that wasn’t the actual location of Jesus’ last walk it still seemed like something worth capturing on camera. From there we made it to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which claimed to house Calvary, the table of preparation and the tomb of Jesus. The church was very beautiful inside, although it had been the subject of many arguments among the various inhabitants in and around that place. Still, it was nice to look at. Admittedly, I wasn’t fully convinced that this was the place where Jesus died, but I later realized that whether I believed it or not didn’t really matter.
The day also included a trip to a Roman Cistern with a Byzantine church and a visit to a money changer. The former happened well before the Church of the Holy Sepulcher while the latter happened directly after. Yet after all of these treks the day was not over. A few hours after dinner, we went to take a tour through the western wall. The tour was honestly the most important and informative thing that I did the entire day since I didn’t really understand the temple mount and I certainly didn’t realize the importance of the western wall.
Our tour guide showed us a nice model of Jerusalem that explained exactly what the Temple Mount was (a shoebox-like structure built on top of land flattened by Herod). She also explained the western wall and why it was important. After the destruction of the second temple, the Jews were unable to build a third temple. A few hundred years later, Muslims came in and built a mosque where the temple once was. They also built houses along the western wall of the temple mount. This wall was closest to where the Holy of Holies was, so Jews came here to pray, though they did not have much room. I feel like I’m finally beginning to understand some of the history of this era and why it is important to the study of Jesus.