Middle East Log 2007-8
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We left Amman this morning at 7:00 AM crossing the Allenby bridge into Israel at 8:30. The crossing went smoothly for our group and we proceeded to Jerusalem to begin our tour.
Our first stop was the southern wall of the Temple Mount. Here the excavations have revealed the magnificent steps that led to the temple during the time of Christ. In 1971 I worked on the archaeological dig that uncovered those steps as part of Benjamin Mazar's work on that site. It is always good to come back to this city. There is such energy in the streets and atmosphere.
Today is the final Friday of Ramadan and there were prayers by thousands of Muslims on at the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque. That was quite a sight. We went to the Western Wall and on to the Mount of Olives.
I was able to give some readings from the Bible at these sights today. On the temple steps we read from Isaiah and the Psalms. On the Mount of Olives I read Zacharia 14 were it shows the return of the Lord and the mount splitting in two. Quite a dramatic thing to contemplate while at that spot.
We walked down the mount toward the Garden of Gethsemane. We stopped at a point where Christ could have wept at the sight of the city and the problems that lay ahead. In the Garden we read from Matthew 26 where Christ prayed as He waited for the soldiers to come down from the city and arrest him.
It is quite an experience to read these words on the sights where the incidents occurred. You can point to the actual sites and read the words and visualize the scene. I told the group it is better than Powerpoint!
Our tour group is holding up pretty well. We have all benn on the road now for ten days and though we are tired and a few are fighting off some sickness we are holding up good so far.
Tomorrow we go to Masada, En Gedi and Qumran