Israel is one of those places I have wanted to visit for YEARS!
I flew in a day early so I could take a quick tour of Jerusalem. And I was not disappointed.
I love to tell a story with photos so you might see a lot of them in this post!
The start of my adventure....
I landed in Tel Aviv. Got picked up by Alice and Einat! (pictures of the beautiful girls and the classes coming in another post.) Went out to eat with them. Got lost IN the menu...
Thankfully Einat and Alice helped me out!!
Then got to my hotel for lots of SLEEP! I had an early date with a tour company the next morning!! EEK!
On the way to Jerusalem!!
From Wiki: During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times. The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world.
Old Jerusalem is filled with wonder. history. emotions. Did I mention history? Lots and lots of history. This is the history I have read about for years...I have taught to my kids for years. We've gone through the Jewish Festivals in our home; studied the Biblical words of Jesus and the apostles; the Old Testament stories and figures; the New Testament prophecies. I could not even explain how I felt as I saw where many of these took place.
Ayalon Field (Joshua fought here when entering the Promised Land)
"The Pastoral Ayalon valley, with its cotton fields and almond orchards situated half way between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, witnessed the dramatic History of the Holyland and serves as ancient Israel guide from as far back as Biblical history the armies and the pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem through here.
From these planes, The sounding of Joshua's call out to the lord: "Sun stop at Givon and the moon at the Valley of Ayalon", was heard, and granting him victory over the five Canaanite Kings." (Source: Articlesbase.com)
Military vehicles as a memorial on the side of the road from the last war. It really shows you the price of freedom.
"Besides some beautiful scenery as you approach Jerusalem, you might notice some monuments along the road and old, rusted military vehicles. These are reminders of the battles that took place along the Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem corridor during Israel's fight for independence in 1948. Before the Arab states invaded on May 15, irregular forces were blockading the route, making it difficult and, at times, impossible to bring supplies to the Jews living in Jerusalem." Source: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
And some of the police force now! Check out those guns. Let's just say I REALLY behaved myself.
Woohoo...getting closer to Jerusalem!
At an observation point overlooking Old Jerusalem...
"The Old City, roughly 220 acres surrounded by walls built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. This is the heart of the city and has both political and religious significance. The Old City is divided into quarters — Jewish, Armenian, Muslim and Christian. The holiest place for Jews is the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter. Two of Islam’s most important shrines, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aksa Mosque are in the Muslim Quarter on the Temple Mount. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter is revered by Christians as the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here you can imagine life centuries ago and even walk on original 2,000-year-old stones." source: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org
The Mount of Olives (when Jerusalem was last conquered the olive trees were cut down. Sad.)
This site has a very cool interactive panorama of the area!
The right side of Jerusalem
excavations at the observation point
Another view of the mt of olives (left) and Kidron Valley (on the right). So much history has happened/will happen here! I just stood there forever thinking about it all.
This site has amazing info on this area including this little tidbit: "The Kidron Valley, which runs between eastern Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, plummets rapidly into a ravine that is dry much of the year. The bridge that joined the two is probably what Jesus and the disciples used on their way to Gethsemane."
Behind the observation point was a Jewish college and synagogue.
Looking at the Garden of Gethsemane
Did I mention how WINDY it was up there?
Leaving the hill and driving to Old Jerusalem... (Some of these pics were taken through the bus windows...bad quality and focus! So frustrating, but it was the best I could do.)
Garden of Gethsemane (can you imagine Jesus praying here the night before His crucifixion?) (Showing the Church of All Nations)
This Russian Orthodox church is just so beautiful on the hill!
I cannot believe I was SO CLOSE to Bethany (whom we named our oldest after) and didn't know it. "Scripture indicates that the Jesus ascended into heaven in the vicinity of Bethany. This village is down the east slope of the Mt. of Olives about 1.5 miles (2 km)." www.bibleplaces.com
"Jews have sought since antiquity to be buried on the Mount of Olives, where according to the Bible (Zech. 14:4) the resurrection will begin when the Messiah comes. Eventually, the cemetery grew to cover the entire western and much of the southern slopes.
The earliest tombs are located at the foot of the mountain in the Kidron Valley. One is attributed to David’s rebellious son Absalom, another to the First Temple priest Zechariah; a third bears an inscription mentioning the sons of Hezir, a priestly family that lived 2,000 years ago.
Jewish burial here continued throughout the centuries, interrupted only between 1948 and 1967 when Jerusalem was divided. Among the many legends surrounding this sacred mountain, it is said that in the End of Days people will tunnel underground from all over the world to rise up here." Source: www.goisrael.com
Signs like this just give me goosebumps.
Still driving in the bus, but getting closer to the walled part of Jerusalem.
Here you can see caves in the sides of the walls.
Entering the Jaffa gate into Old Jerusalem!!
"The main entrance to the Old City is the Jaffa Gate, which was built by Suleiman in 1538. The name in Arabic, Bab el-Halil or Hebron Gate, means "The Beloved," and refers to Abraham, the beloved of God who is buried in Hebron. The gate on the western side of the Old City marked the end of the highway leading from the Jaffa coast and now leads into the Muslim and Armenian quarters. A road allows cars to enter the Old City through a wide gap in the wall between Jaffa Gate and the Citadel. This passage was originally built in 1898 when Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany visited Jerusalem. The ruling Ottoman Turks opened it so the German Emperor would not have to dismount his carriage to enter the city." Source: www.jewishvirtuallibrary.com
I just love the Money Changer sign!! At least it's not in the temple.
"And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves..." Matthew 21:12
And Swedish Christians. okay. (I love the diversity here.)
One of the VERY old walls. Our tour guide believed Saul, David, Solomon, etc. had a part in building the first walls. And we know Nehemiah got the job going again after years of ruin...
The street is for pedestrians AND cars. Yeah. Tight squeeze at times.
A mosque (left side) in the Jewish Quarter next to a temple.
This is for my son Billy who LOVES Coca-Cola products. I tried to get him a CC t-shirt in Hebrew, but there was no time on the tour to stop! UGH!
My first view of the Western/Wailing Wall.
This is all that is left from the second Temple/court area (Solomon's Temple.) It's so very sad. Yes, there are other temples now, but this temple was the centerpiece of the Jewish faith for years and years. I just stood there and prayed for the peace of Israel. I wish, really wish, that there could be peace with the countries surrounding Israel. After all...they are cousins. They all come from Ishmael and Isaac who are half brothers.
I tucked a paper with a LOAD of prayer requests on it into a crevice. I know God can hear my prayers anywhere, but it was just extra special being here...being surrounded by other earnest prayers.
Peeking over the wall to the men's side...
This is a REALLY long post and I still have so many more pics to share...so I will close with this picture. AMEN and amen!