I am continuing day 4 in this post. We are checking out of the Dan Hotel in about an hour and heading north, by this evening we will be at Ma’agan in Galilee. This is a beautiful resort on the Sea of Galilee, and has free wi-fi in the lobby. I am sure it is more reliable that the Dan Hotel!
After our hike in the Kidron, we had the bus drop us off near the Zion Gate. my intention was to visit David’s Tomb and the Upper Room (the Cenacle). This is the first time since 2005 i have visited these sites and much has changed! The Tomb of David is now divided, with separate places for men and women, and I am fairly certain that the whole place is re-designed. Locating the Upper Room was a bit of a challenge, there is no signage marking the place (or I completely missed it). If there was not another group in the place, I probably would have missed it entirely. This was a short visit, but I did talk a bit about Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 which refers to the Tomb. Nether the Tomb nor the present Upper room are authentic, bit it is likely they were in these approximate locations in he first century.
I then took the group through Zion Gate, which is always an adventure to get through since it still allows cars to pass. The gate itself is marked with bullet holes from the Six Day War. The Jewish Quarter was heavily damaged in that war, but that allowed archaeologists to survey the area before it was rebuilt.
A walk through the Jewish Quarter on a Friday afternoon was refreshing change fom the Christian Quarter. it was quiet and clean, and most of all, not really crowded. Just as we arrived there was a bit of thunder as cooler weather moved in. After looking at the Cardo, the group broke up to explore. Some visited the shops, there are so many good art and jewelry shops in that area of the city. Scott Spooner, Kyle Vegh and I walked down the the place where the Roman Cardo is visible and around the corner to the “broad wall”, usually identified with Hezekiah’s expansion of the city after the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C.
I had an excellent Turkish Coffee at a kiosk near Hezekiah’s wall. I do not recall the name of the place, it was a “to go” shop (I recommend it!). We walked around to Hurvah Plaza and watched the people for a half-hour and chatted about the variety of Israelis living in that part of the city. Like the variety of Christians in the Holy Sepulcher, there is a bewildering variation of practice among the people passing through that Plaza.
Walking from the Zion Gate to the Church of Saint Peter Gallicantu, we tried to peek into the garden where Oscar Schindler is buried, but the site is only open in the morning. I guess I have to be satisfied with a photo of the gate.
Church of Saint Peter Gallicantu is the traditional site where Peter denied Jesus. The church is built over the home of a wealthy family, traditionally identfied as Caiaphas, the high priest who questioned Jesus. Unlike my only other visit to this church, it was very quiet, almost deserted! We were the only group there for most of our visit. The highlight is the deep cistern in which Jesus was held after his arrest and interview with Caiaphas, but before his more public trial (John 18:1-11). Whether this is the location or not, it is a great place to read John 18 and think about Peter’s denial of Jesus. It is always shocking to realize that Peter swore to die with Jesus and tried to defend him in the Garden only to deny him a few hours later in Caiaphas’ courtyard.
There is a decent amount archaeology to see outside the church, but most is not well marked and there is an intimidating fence to keep visitors off the first century road and stairs. The church also has a model of Jerusalem during the Byzantine period. This is nothing like the quality of the model at the Israel museum, but it does show the major Christian sites. Standing around this map was excellent time trying to identify the locations we have visited, seem like everyone was able to point out major landmarks. Becca noticed that by the Byzantine period, the Gallicantu church was inside the walls, so we started to point out all of the differences between the current Old City and the Byzantine. Shayna saw that the Jaffa Gate was a bit off, then Scott Shaw pulled the ESV Study Bible up on his iPad and we compared the city at the time of David to the time of Jesus, etc. I think that this group of students could probably negotiate their way around the Old City quite well by this point.
On the bus we drove past the Valley of Hinnom, which I would really like to hike some time. The Valley is not very high on most tourist’s list of things to see, but there are a number of minor locations that would interest me.
I noticed that there were a few people dozing on the bus, I worked this group pretty hard today. Tomorrow we drive up to Caesarea, one of my favorite locations in Israel.