Hannah and Je together

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Israel Trip Sixth Day: Mount Olive, City of David, Gethsemane, Shepherds Field and Home Demolition

Today we went to Mount Olive first time.

View from Mount Olive

View from Mount Olive

In the picture above, you can recognise the dome, and probably the temple wall. In front of the temple wall, you can see the Kidron Valley, and on the left side, you can see that famous Hinnom Valley.

Another View from Mount Olive

Another View from Mount Olive

This is a nice view with the Golden Dome from the Mount Olive. Jesus probably saw the similar things, except the Golden Dome and the houses in the north and west. He saw and wept. I was awed at this sight. Living in Seoul and Chicago, I am very much accustomed to the skyscrapers and giant buildings, and still awed at this. I cannot imagine how much the ancient people would have been awed at this. It is said that the Herod’s temple is the largest temple in the history (as a single platform temple). This view from Mount Olive is amazing. On the Palm Sunday, Jesus went into the city riding on a donkey. Mount Olive is on the east of Jerusalem. Shouting crowd, Palm branches, East, Sun on the back… everything indicates Messiah.

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

Gethsemane from Mount Olive

This is the Gethsemane from afar. It is very close to the city.

Necropolis, the city of the dead

Necropolis, the city of the dead

This is necropolis. In Israel’s burial custom, they put the dead body in the tomb and wait until it is totally decayed leaving bones only. Then they collect the bones and put them in a stone box with the name. In the necropolis, you can see all the bone boxes. And they put some perfume on the dead body so that it does not smell too much when the family comes to collect the bone. That is why Jesus said the lady was preparing for his funeral when she put the perfume on him.

Solomon's Wall

Solomon’s Wall

Then we went to the south side of the temple wall, just under the Al Aqsa Mosque. And this is the Solomon’s temple wall remains.

City of David

City of David

City of David was our next destination.

Royal Toilet Bowl

Royal Toilet Bowl

This is the toilet bowl from the Palace of David. It must be personal rest room for very important person, probably a king. You cannot say that David did not use it. It also has running water.

City of David, Image

City of David, Image

This is nice picture showing the City of David and the Temple in the OT times. The bottom half is the picture of modern-day at the same place. The white big thing in the middle is David’s Palace, and I can understand how and why David saw the bathing scene.

Water System

Water System

And we went to the water system, kind of secret one. They went to this passage to carry the water.

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Then we saw the Canaanite Wall next to it. David and his commanders saw this wall. And the Canaanites stood a blind man and a lame man to mock David. That means not only ancient Canaanites had crude sense of humour, but also they were so confident about their wall.

Hezekiah Wall Image

Hezekiah Wall Image

At the drawing above, the left side is Canaanite Wall. And the right is Hezekiah’s protection of the spring. And the Hezekiah’s tunnel (for water) is underground from the spring into the city.

Canaanite Tunnel

Canaanite Tunnel

David must went through this tunnel.

Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Not all, but some of McCormick group went through the Hezekiah’s tunnel. It is actually water way. Hezekiah knew that the Assyrians coming, and the people inside the wall needed water, so he dug the water way so that they can get fresh water without going out of the city.

Water in the Tunnel

Water in the Tunnel

You can see the water is still flowing, and I actually tasted – surprisingly it was good.

Siloam

Siloam

At the end of the tunnel, we met the Siloam where Jesus healed the blind man.

Gethsemane Basilica

Gethsemane Basilica

Then we went to Gethsemane. It is the Basilica (or Church) of Agony.

Olive Trees

Olive Trees

Next to the Basilica, there is still a garden, and the biologists say those olive trees are more than 2,000 years old which means, Jesus must have seen them.

Jesus was arrested while he was praying here. Standing here, I realised that this Gethsemane is the middle point between the city and Judean wilderness. If he wanted, it is 100% possible for him to flee to where David fled. But he did NOT which means he meant his death and sacrifice.

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Basilica

Inside the Church is so beautiful. The ceilings, windows, front patterns, drawings… and everything.

View from Gethsemane

View from Gethsemane

This is the view of the temple mount and the golden dome from the Gethsemane. It was not zoomed. It just shows how close it is to the temple. Until now, I had no idea when I was reading the Bible without any knowledge of geography even though I read the maps. When Jesus was taken from the Gethsemane to the temple, and to the Pontius Pilate, and to Herod, it sounded to me like from Kansas city, to Chicago, and to Washington D.C. How can they travel in ONE day? But now I experienced and knew the distance and everything, it makes sense.

Mango Juice

Mango Juice

We went to Bethlehem and had lunch at Palestinian restaurant. See the bottle that it is filled up to the top. In America, the bottles always has some room in case of freezing. And here, this means that there is no chance to freeze.

Chicken Pita

Chicken Pita

This is chicken pita, and it was super delicious but pricier than that I expected – 40 NIS. I may skip the lunch tomorrow.

Shepherds' Field

Shepherds’ Field

Then we went to Shepherds’ Field where the angels came and told the shepherds about the birth of the Saviour. There are three places recognised as shepherds’ field, but this is Catholic one. This is the rock where the shepherds rested and probably saw the angels.

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Shepherds Field Church Inside

Inside the Church is quite beautiful and small. The acoustic is very good, but I think it was better at the St. Anne’s Church.

Shepherds Field Church Outside

Shepherds Field Church Outside

In the shepherds’ Field Church, anything down is shepherd and anything up is angel.

Terrace Agriculture

Terrace Agriculture

While we were moving on the bus, our local guide George explained us about the oldest way of agriculture. It was making a terrace as seen on the picture above. Here, the land is chalk. They dig the chalk in a row shape, and put good soil on it, and plant. And the chalk does not absorb the water, so the water flows down to the next terrace. Then you can just water only the top row. On the sites like this, it is easy to find some good soil, some chalk and bad soil, the rocks, some thorns. And this is perfectly fit with the parable of Jesus.

Palestinian Area

Palestinian Area

Then we met Chaska(?) from the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. She is very passionate and energetic Jewish woman who works and fights for the human rights of Palestinians. The photo above shows the ghetto Palestinian area without any trees. I actually drove through there, and it was so crappy, dirty, and all infrastructure was so bad, and not maintained by the government at all.

Jewish Area

Jewish Area

This is Jewish area. There are lots of trees, and high buildings. And above all, she said, Jewish area anywhere is identified by the landmark of cranes which means continuous development.

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Jewish and Palestinian Resident

Israel government builds Jewish settlement in the heart of the Palestinian area. Here the front row is Jewish apartment which is nice and does not have any black water tank. They get enough water. Far back of the photo, you can see  the small black dots which are the water tanks. Because the government does not work on the infrastructure, they have to connect the water by themselves while they pay the same amount of water bills. And mostly they connect too many on one pipe and the water pressure drops down. That is why they must install water tanks.

Separation Wall

Separation Wall

Many, actually most of the Palestine communities are separated by the giant walls and disconnected from the neighbouring community. And they don’t have the freedom to move. This is the separation wall in Jerusalem.

House Demolition Site

House Demolition Site

This is the scene of home demolition. Israel government does not allow the Palestinians new house building permit. But they have to build. And later Israeli government give them warning of demolition. And then later suddenly they come around 1-3am and destroy the house. It is total operation with the demolition team, military, and police.

In my opinion, Israel government simply want them just disappear.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Israel Trip Fifth Day: Haram, Church, Al Quds University

We went to Haram or Temple Mount where the famous golden dome is. We went through the security at Al Asbat Gate as we did for the Western Wall. The haram is the third holiest place for the Muslims, and for that all the females well prepared by covering everything except hand and face. Of course head, neck and shoulder were covered. But still some of the females were given skirts to wear.

Al Asbat Gate Security

Al Asbat Gate Security

After the security, we saw the golden dome from afar.

Golden Dome from Afar

Golden Dome from Afar

But our first destination was not the golden dome but the Al Aqsa Mosque.

Al Aqsa Mosque Outside

Al Aqsa Mosque Outside

Inside the Mosque, it was very beautiful. The carpet, the ceiling, the columns, and the stained windows … everything is so beautiful.

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As you may know, all the muslims must pray towards Mecca everyday five times. And consequently every mosque tells you which direction is to Mecca.

Praying towards Mecca

Praying towards Mecca

This guy is praying facing the direction to Mecca with his son.

Column Inside Column

Column Inside Column

Just like any other things in Jerusalem, Al Aqsa mosque also has long and complex history. Round marble columns are (relatively) recently donated by the Italian government. But the square column on the other side is very old, and there was a window on the column which shows the older (Umayan Dynasty) round column inside.

Sabeel

Sabeel

After the mosque, we walked to the golden dome or Dome of the Rock. It was very short distance, and I found a something like fountain with tabs and stone chairs around. This kind of water spring or fountain is called Sabeel in Arabic. Sabeel also means way.

Golden Dome

Golden Dome

This was taken in very close distance. As some of my friends know, my camera is very old and it does not really zoom.

Golden Dome and Je

Golden Dome and Je

Until now, it was just normal tour course which anyone does. But with God’s help, McCormick group got special permit. After 2000, non-muslims were not allowed inside the Dome of the Rock. And we were the exception. With the special permit from the Muslim Authority, we went into the dome. I’ve never seen our local guide George taking any picture, but today inside of the Dome of the Rock, he was so busy taking pictures and even video. That just shows me how special the special permit is.

Inside the Dome

Inside the Dome

It was beautiful but I think Al Aqsa mosque was more beautiful for the interior. One thing which makes the dome of the Rock so special is not the golden dome outside. The rock inside is special. It is believed that Abraham was offering his son on this rock. And Solomon’s temple was also built upon this rock. For Muslims, they believe this rock followed Mohamed on his ascension to heaven. And he sent this rock back on earth.

To THE ROCK

To THE ROCK

The picture above shows the entrance to the rock below.

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And as I wrote above, in the mosque, you can easily tell which direction is to Mecca.

Praying towards Mecca

Praying towards Mecca

When I was stepping out of the Dome, I found a strange clock on the wall.

Prayer Clock

Prayer Clock

First one is current time. Second is the date of today. The others are the prayer time of the day. I think they pray five times a day, and I have no idea why the clock shows six prayer times.

St. George Cathedral

St. George Cathedral

And then we went to St. George’s Cathedral for Sunday service. It was Anglican Church. The service was very interesting.

St. George Cathedral Inside

St. George Cathedral Inside

And then we had lunch at the Notre Dame Hotel which is directly owned and managed by the Vatican. After that we went to Al Quds University which is Palestinian school. And on the way, in the Palestinian town, I saw the tall segregation wall.

Separation Wall

Separation Wall

It looks high but actually it is one of the low walls. I heard that some of the walls are twice higher.

Abu Jihad Museum

Abu Jihad Museum

Before the University, we went to the Abu Jihad Museum next to the University. This museum is for the Palestinian prisoners who were ill-treated in Israeli prison.

Professor Moustafa Abu Sway

Professor Moustafa Abu Sway

Then we listened to Professor Moustafa Abu Sway who was born and raised in Jerusalem, and also studied in Boston, USA. Our guide George was his student too.

Palestinian Village

Palestinian Village

After his lecture and Q&A time, we headed back to the guesthouse in Jerusalem. And on the way back, I took this picture of empty houses and apartments in Palestinian area. There was huge discussion and arguments after dinner meeting. I cannot say anything about this matter now, but I will try to post about it later.

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