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The City of David – So Many Tunnels 

Welcome to the City of David! This is the area outside the old city walls where the Jerusalem of King David’s era lay. The site is still an active archeological dig, so it is constantly changing. One of the challenges is that much of the city is located under an Arab community that has been settled on the location for over 1000 years. Both Jews and Arabs have strong claims to the land. One people wants to excavate their history while the other wants to remain in their ancestral homes. As we have said many times on this trip, it’s complicated.

Some of the active archaeology. The Arab community on top of the City of David is pictured bottom right.

The Mount of Olives


After checking out some archaeology, we headed down to Hezekiah’s tunnel. The tunnel was built during King Hezekiah’s reign so that the people of Jerusalem would have access to water while under siege by the Assyrians. The siege is recorded in 2 Chronicles 32. We got to walk through the tunnel which was dark, narrow, and damp through water ranging in depth from mid-thigh to ankle high. It was an amazing experience and we all marveled at how they carved the tunnel by hand.

Clockwise from top: oil lamps, climbing down the stairs to the spring and Hezekiah’s tunnel, one of the many staircases we climbed, getting ready to go in the tunnel, the reservoir that held the water for Jerusalem

  

After trekking through the tunnel we made the ascent to the Temple Mount. We climbed the actual stairs Jesus would have climbed every time he went up to the temple after washing at the Pool of Siloam. Jews came up to the Temple three times a year for three different festivals. Since Jesus lived about 33 years, he would have walked these steps around 99 times. With that many trips, he must have stepped on just about every inch of those steps. As we climbed, we listened to some of the Psalms of Ascent – Psalms the Jews sung on the way to the Temple (Psalms 120-134).

Standing on a Roman road near the Pool of Siloam

The ruins of the Pool along with a rendering of what it may have looked like

Beginning the ascent to the Temple Mount

The stairs are not completely excavated, so much of the journey was through a tunnel that used to be a Roman drainage ditch that ran below the street as shown in the mural. The walls were green with mold and moss

Pictured here is a Roman Road running alongside the Temple Mount. The stones on the ground were toppled when the Romans destroyed the Temple. The damaged paving stones were broken by the falling rubble.

A partially reconstructed Roman street market

Part of the city wall, now underground

The Zion Gate

 

In the afternoon, we visited Musalaha, an organization that facilitates reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. You can learn more about their work here.

By the end of the day, we were worn out, but most of us hung in there to visit the Western Wall. We went down another tunnel along the wall and saw several Jewish women praying as close as they could get to the site of the Holy of Holies. Please pray that God would answer their fervent prayers and satisfy the longing apparent in their faces.

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