9:55 pm

It is late again tonight.  How did that happen? Shopping.

Nice day today.  Although it is still pretty warm up here in Jerusalem (if you are from the South Bay – you say “hot”).  But my theory is this:  the more you sweat the more Magnum bars you can eat.  But hey, I didn’t have one today.  Bummer.

The day began (at 8) with a bus ride to the City of David.  We lost three travelers for the morning.  So 14 of us ventured to explore the City of David.  I did the beginning (outdoor) part.  It was interesting. They’ve got a new outdoor platform at the highest point and you can look out over the City of David – and Jerusalem beyond.  It’s a great platform from which to gain a special perspective on this city of the Jebusites conquered by King David.

We walked down to the outdoor excavations.  Benny did a good job explaining the recent finds and discoveries.  They do think they located David’s palace (it had capitols and really thick walls – as only a palace would have).  They also found a “library” – a room with about 50 seals from letters/documents sent and received.  Some of the names on these seals can be found in the Bible.  That’s actually pretty amazing.  Archeological confirmation of the text.  Again.

The group then descended down into the parts those squeamish of small and enclosed places refuse to go.  Or at least strongly prefer not to experience.  So I stayed up top with Susie and we had a grand time chatting.  Getting friendly with a cat (it got friendly with me – which is not a positive experience).  And we got to watch lots of people come and go.  More than perhaps we bargained for.

The rest of the group had gone down to survey the underground discoveries of David’s Jerusalem.  There’s a nice movie/show down there.  Like I’d know?  And then the exit is through one of two paths.  Hezekiah’s Tunnel (wet) or the dry tunnel (short, lit, and no water).  Most of the group was going to choose the wet tunnel (and did choose it).  When we finally got back together, they were gushing.  Alone in the wet tunnel they had a great time.  They sang and had some moments together.  They loved it and said I should have joined them.  Fat chance of that ever happening.

At about 90 of waiting time, I was beginning to wonder if I’d missed something.  I tried to text some folks, but there was no response and there my texts wouldn’t even send.  I guess they moved through everything in a timely fashion – but then when Benny called for the bus it took Fouad about half an hour to get to the Pool of Siloam (at the bottom of the hill and the end of Hezekiah’s Tunnel).  There was a wasted 30 minutes.

The came and picked up Susie and me.  We went on a very short bus ride up the hill and into the Dung Gate.  It’s Thursday so it is Bar Mitzvah Day at the Western Wall.  And there were many, many, many of them going on.  They are loud and energetic and fun.  We skirted several so that we could get inside the walls and onto the Archeological Gardens.  Time is running short.  It is after 11 and we have reservations at noon at the Western Wall Tunnels.  So, we had to hurry a bit.  It does become the theme of the day.  But we were able to see the highlights of what the site has to offer.  You see the destruction of the Temple Mount by the Roman army.  They were ruthless.  The stones they threw down from the Temple Mount are still there, lying as a testament of what took place in AD 70.

They have cleared a section so we can see the actual street level in first century Jerusalem, the time of Jesus.  It is interesting.  We saw the stone which was at the top corner (SW) of the temple mount – with its inscription:  for the blowing of the horns….or something like that.

Then we were off to the Temple Steps themselves.  Here is one of the few places where it can be said with confidence:  Jesus was here.  He taught on the steps.  Went up and down from the Temple Mount on the steps.  Jesus was here. No doubt.  I ready from Matthew 23 – the “woes” to the religious leadership.  Powerful text.

We had about ten minutes to get from those steps back up to the level of the Western Wall Plaza – go thru security – cross the plaza and get to the entry point for the Tunnel Tour.  We made it. And we picked up the last three of our fellow travelers.  Whew.

I went in the tunnels for the introduction – then bugged out.  I walked the route (as close as you can) from on top of the ground (fine by me).  I stopped and bought some bread (the Israeli form of a bagel) and then some fresh squeezed pomegranate/orange juice. The bread comes with za’atar – and so it is an amazingly delicious snack.

I really didn’t have to wait too long for the troops to exit the tunnels.  But I was over there.  Waiting patiently.  It’s actually a bit of a hike to the bus from there.  We went out the Lion’s Gate (St Stephen’s Gate) and down the steep hill to the bus down below.  And then we got to kill another hour in traffic.  I think it took us half an hour to go around the rest of the city and free ourselves from the traffic nightmare around the Old City.

Our next stop was the Israel Museum.  So that means the scale model of Jerusalem in the first century – the Shine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls) – and the archeological section of the Israel Museum.  The afternoon was going to be full.  But then we had this place called Yad Vashem still on the itinerary.  The museum of the Holocaust.  I figured, since we got stuck in traffic – let’s just skip Yad Vashem and do the archeology.

That decision was not widely praised.  So Benny and I decided to give folks a choice.  Archeology or Holocaust.  Six chose Yad Vashem. And Benny selected me as their guide.  He could guide thru the museum – and since guiding is not allowed at Yad Vashem – I could do the guiding there.  Not my first choice of activities, but I can do that.

Seven of us headed to Yad Vashem. Oh wait.  We first had lunch there at the museum.  No line so it was quick (always a positive thing).  Then we toured the model of Jerusalem. And then we visited the Shrine of the Book.  There are artifacts to explore, but the original Isaiah scroll on display is just a copy.

Then we split into our two groups.  I can say our folks loved Yad Vashem.  So I’m thrilled.  The other folks loved the archeology.  It makes a difference to read a sign that says something was found in Megiddo – when you’ve just been there a few days earlier.  They had a grand time.

My group swung by the museum and picked up the group and headed back to our hotel.  We were here about 5:15 I think – much better than yesterday.  But….I went out with the shopping crew.  Really?  Why did I do that?  Oh, I needed a couple of things I guess.  I got them.  The Armenian shop I love was closed again on the way – but we were able to pick it up on the way back.

And as for dinner – some were tired of the cuisine here at the Gloria.  So some (most) went out.  I went with a few that went to Nofura.  I’d been there on my own last week and it is delicious.  The outdoor dining next to the city wall is just amazing.  So we had a great time and great food.

And hence…I’m getting another late start at the journal.  But the day is done and I’m ready for a shower. And the group is ready for me to take a shower I’m sure. Then it’s bed. Sweet rest.

Tomorrow we start at the top of the Mt of Olives.  Walk down. Visit Gethsemane.  The Jewish Quarter.  And we have a 3:15 appointment at the Garden Tomb.  A wonderful way to end our touring of Jerusalem.  Saturday we are in Samaria (I love it up there).  We’ll be home in a week.  Sort of unbelievable.

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