Start with a view of Jerusalem and then visit King David’s tomb and the Room of the Last Supper. Enter the Old City through the Zion Gate and visit the restored Sephardi synagogues, the Byzantine Cardo in the Jewish Quarter. Proceed to the Western Wall (Kotel), and then exit the Old City through the Dung Gate and tour the excavations of the City of David.
We start with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem. As if in the palm of our hand, we see the Old City and the Temple Mount area spread before us and imagine the Second Temple destroyed in 70 CE and Solomon’s Temple before that, destroyed in 586 BCE. As we drive along the Kidron Valley towards the Zion gate we have an excellent view of Mount Olives and the Jewish cemetery, in constant use over two thousand years. At its base are the ancient burial tombs Yad Avshalom, Beni Hazir and that perhaps of Zechariah. Alongside are the Garden of Gethsemane and the Church of All Nations.
On Mount Zion we stop at the Tomb of David. The large cenotaph is covered with a drape on which are embroidered various attributes of King David including the lyre he played, a crown and the words “David, King of Israel lives forever” in Hebrew. As this is a holy site for the Jewish people men and women are separated.
As we enter the Old City through the Zion gate on our way to the Cardo we stop at the four beautifully restored seventeenth and early eighteenth century Sephardi synagogues which were used to house animals during the nineteen years the Old City was under Jordanian rule.
We continue to the excavated Byzantine Cardo. Although this fifteen hundred year old main street of Jerusalem was partially destroyed and unused during the Moslem conquest it had a brief new lease of life during the Crusader period and the excavated Crusader shops are now modern stores.
Continuing through the Jewish Quarter we marvel at the excavated and exposed foundation of the two thousand seven hundred year old wall of biblical Jerusalem built by King Hezekiah. (Is 22:10). We descend a few meters and find ourselves in a two thousand year old complex of homes with their original mosaic floors and mikveh.
A brief stop at the Western Wall (Kotel) allows us to place a note between its stones. This two thousand year old wall is part of the encircling and supporting wall built by King Herod when the Temple Mount area was enlarged. We leave the Old City through the Dung gate we visit the remarkable excavations of the three thousand year old City of David. How can we not be in awe of the ingenuity of those who sought to bring water to the people of Jerusalem, whether it be the ancient Canaanites or Hezekiah whose tunnel is described succinctly (II Kings 20:20 & II Ch32:2-4) and identified by an inscription now exhibited in a museum in Turkey.
As we sit at the spring of Gihon does not a shiver run up our spines to think that it was here that “Zadok took the horn of oil out of the tent and anointed Solomon”? (I Kings 1:38-39).