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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Temple Mount and Bethlehem

Kelly and I on the Temple Mount, behind us the Dome of the Rock!

Kelly admiring the columns out front.

Here is the Baptistery right next to the Dome of hte Rock.  Take a look at the reflection of the door knob.
We woke up this morning to begin our day on the Temple Mount.  Quick history:  Here is the place that the Jewish temple was built by Solomon, then destroyed and rebuilt, then greatly improved by Herod the Great in Jesus time.   It is the holiest site for the Jewish people.  It is also the place where Abraham took Isaac up to be sacrificed.   The Romans completely destroyed the Temple in 70 AD and it has been gone ever since.  Currently two mosques set on the Temple Mount, the Dome of the Rock and the Black mosque.  Theses where built in the the 6th century.    It is a very peaceful place and the Dome of the Rock Mosque is beautiful.   What surprised me was that there is a Crusader period baptistery right next to the Dome of the Rock!  Apparently during one of hte crusades the Temple Mount was taken over by the crusaders and the Mosque turned into a church, later when the crusaders where driven out the baptistery remained used for other purposes.  

Next we traveled through the streets of the old city.  Take a look at the vendors below and imagine all the sights and sounds.

Here are the Merchants in the old city

Can you smell the incense burring.

Here is the famous "wailing" or Western

Prayers are jammed into the little space
Through the old city we came out at the Western or Wailing wall.  The only part of Herod's Temple that is still intact.  It was a very interesting experience to come to the wall and pray.  It was a good place to pray, and it felt good to pray for peace for all the people who share this land.  Take a look at all the prayers that are shoved into the seams of the rocks.  Also there were lots of celebrations of bat and bar mitzvah  here today.

Original stairs cut into bedrock that led up to the Temple
Mount.  Jesus would have taught from this place!
Extending down from the Western wall are the Archaeological gardens.  Here you can see the excavations of the site, including the very street that Jesus would have walked on to come up to the Temple.  We also had a chance to sit on the 'teaching steps' where Jesus would have taught his followers.   The steps are cut into the original bedrock--now over all the years the steps are slick with wear but still very impressive. 

Rubble thrown on the street from the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD 
You can walk on the very stones/street that Jesus must have used.

Church of the Shepherds in the Fields

The small door entrance to
The Church of the Nativity.  Why?
So all will bow who enter?

Near the entrance to the 'grotto' of the birth of Jesus.

Kelly touching the place where Jesus is said to be born.

Oriinal mosaic flloor from 4th century church

The Christmas Tree in Bethlehem square was still up!
After a tour of the "Shrine of the Book" where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed we headed to Bethlehem.  Lunch and then the Franciscan church of the sthepherds in the fields.  A very peaceful place built to commemorate the angels that sang on Christmas morning.  We sang "O little Town of Bethlehem" here.   Then we were off to the Church of the Nativity.  The traditional place where are Lord was born.   The church has an interesting history, it was the only Christian church not destroyed by the Persians when they arrived.   It seems the mosaic inside showed the magi who were similarly dressed so they kept the church standing.  It was founded by Queen Helen, the Mother of Constantine in the 4th Century.  You can still see the original floor, even though the church has since had many additions and repairs.  

Tomorrow, the way of the cross, Holy Sepulchre and then off on the Jericho road to float on the dead sea!

1 comment:

  1. What an experience to be in the paths that Jesus walked! Or to touch the place he was born!