Up early again today, and then off to the Israel Museum to see, among other things, parts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a back-yard sized recreation of the ancient City of Jerusalem.
Much of what we’ve done thus far has been intended to imprint on our minds a picture of Jerusalem and the surrounding area so when we read the Bible we can visual what we are reading. It’s working.
Last night, now familiar with the surroundings, I spent two hours reading the New Testament narrative, from the Last Supper to Jesus’ trial at Caiaphas’s house. I couldn’t put it down now that I could visualize the places as I read.
Mid-morning found us at Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum). Arie gave us a guided tour of the museum, sprinkled with stories he had heard from his father-in-law, who had survived a concentration camp as a fourteen-year old boy, immigrated to Israel and later became a Christian.
After a boxed lunch in a park, we stopped for some brief shopping at a souvenir and antiquities shop. I resisted the urge to buy a shofar, remembering the very clear instructions of my church’s A/V Director that I not return from Israel “weird.”
Actually, he’ll be glad to know I was not tempted at all. Instead I was jokingly goading others in our group to ask the proprietor whether he had any special “relics” in a back room.
We spent the balance of the afternoon at the Herodium, a first century fortress/palace built by Herod the Great on top of a mountain, a mountain also built by Herod the Great.
The Herodium is located in the West Bank (Palestinian occupied territory), 7.5 miles south of Jerusalem. This man-made mountain can be seen from Jerusalem, and from it one can see Bethlehem to the west, the desert and Dead Sea to the east and Jerusalem to the north.
As the wife noted, the view is so clear, Herod could probably have seen the magi’s caravan rolling into Bethlehem from this vantage point.
On top of the mountain, Arie gave us a teaching from Amos made more vivid from Arie’s extensive knowledge of the Jewish culture and our perch on top this man-made mountain.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it, that a mountain built by a man who tried to kill Jesus, would provide a place from which we could see Jesus more clearly–just more great writing from the Great Auteur of history.
More tomorrow. GS