Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The places we know for sure Jesus walked

We depart the Temple Mount and exit at the west, weaving through a dark and dank, narrow street that would see a market in a few days, finding ourselves at the Western (Wailing) Wall. 

A narrow street leading to the Western Wall

The chanting and rocking the faithful Jews do gives them comfort, as it might for a stressed child; it doesn’t get you closer to God, the Bible tells us. 
It's relatively quiet at the Wailing Wall today.

The place is a beehive of activity, and yet not as crowded as it could be. In the restroom, I see women’s purses sitting outside of the cubicles and ask our team leader how they can be so trusting. 
No, the women inside are probably menstruating, I'm told. Each woman will cleanse her hands and retrieve her purse after. She must remain clean. With my friend, I visit the Wailing Wall, pray for my family and friends, and, like several Orthodox Jewish women, peek over the wall that separates the men from the women. 

I'm in the pink, praying for loved ones.

I see one older man, tall and stocky, Orthodox and praying loudly at his podium. His face is beet red and he stops his laments to drink a litre of water. Jesus warned us not to pray like those who do so in public. God wants our hearts, not fervent prayers meant to showcase your piety. 
Orthodox Jews believe the Western Wall is all that's left of the Second Temple, but the stones’ carving style indicates a much later period. Our time is short here, our guide says, but we will return. We hurry past the gate and head to the Davidson Center, weaving through the small museum until we come out at the corner of the wall.
We walk up to the Huldah’s Gate, a gate through which commoners entered the temple area, which is also near her (Huldah's) grave. She is mentioned in 2 Kings 22:14, a prophetess who warned of the destruction of the city. This is the one of the very few places we know and can prove archeologically where Jesus walked. He would have entered the Temple Mount at least three times through this gate. 
My friend, my husband and me a the Southern Gate

Kidron Valley and road to Jericho

The site of the Southern Gate at the Davidson Center

It faces south, and the brilliant sun beats down on us. Below are stark ruins, stones upon stones, softened by the occasional palm tree and patches of grass. Beyond is the City of David, the Kidron Valley, and the Jericho Road. We have to be careful where we walk, the steps are so irregular, but it’s hard not to gape around in awe at this place where Jesus would have stood, perhaps in line to enter. Did he pause and pray, for he’d already wept when he prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, that last week before his crucifixion. It’s a spiritually moving place.
From the Davidson Center, we're taken up to the Gallicantu Church. My meagre Latin is enough to tell me why the church was built. Galli-gallo-rooster and Cantu-canto-sing. The rooster’s crow. The site of Peter’s denial. This is a church built on the remains of Caiaphas’s house, where Jesus was illegally tried after being betrayed by Judas.
The back of the Gallicantu Church with the remains of Caiaphas's house in the foreground.

Here we head straight down to the small dungeon, a well-lit, spanking clean place that had served not only as a jail for Christ on Holy Thursday, but as a cistern as well. It wouldn’t have looked a innocuous as it does today. 

entering The Sacred Pit

But still, we pause.

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