Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mount of Olives

Thanks to Gail's briefing I think I can brief you on today's events.  Let's start at a church over the tomb where Jesus was buried.  Teacher Monte Luker explained an idea about where Jesus was buried, died and how the churches came to be.  The area of the tomb and Gologoth, where Jesus died, happened in an abandoned guarry.  When quarries were abandoned, tombs were carved into the walls. Also because there was a harder stone in the middle of the quarry, a hill remained there and the Romans used that hill for crucifixions to be in the eye of the public and a warning for such anti-Roman activities.  So this theory is that the crucifixion and tomb are actually quite close.

We saw the tomb after waiting in a long line and crouching down to enter a small entrance.  The slab where Jesus lay was a simple slab but carved smooth out of the stone.   The ornamentation in and around the tomb was extravagant, but well intentioned.  The tomb is literally in the Orthodox Church but there are chapels of the Coptic, Armenia and Roman Catholic churches in the wings or down the hall.

Walking further down the halls, we saw a rock through a glass display window.  It was a part of the base of the hill Gologoth.  Further on was a steep staircase leading to the top of the hill.  In the top of the hill was a permanent hole carved to hold the base of a crucifixion cross.  The hole where the cross of Jesus was set lie under an altar.  One could crawl down and touch the hole if you wished.  Again the ornamentation overwhelmed the simplicity of the hole and the event of the Crucifixion.

More walking and we visited a chapel with a great deal of imagery about the selection of the donkey and where Jesus started his ride into Jerusalem.  It was a brief stop.

The Church of All Nations is adjacent to a cave where Jesus taught his disciples.  The walls of the church and courtyard are covered with the Lord's Prayer in many languages of the world.  By far most of the languages are minor languages and it was difficult to find the English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese and the like.

It was all downhill from here and very steep.  We are now on the Mount of Olives which is covered with thousands of above ground tombs.  Most tombs have little scattering of small rocks on them.  Jews place another stone on the tomb with each visit, much like Christians might place flowers on the grave sight.  Jews choose to be buried on the hillside of the Mount of Olives because they will be first to see the coming of the Messiah.

On the road down, a very steep narrow road, a nephew of our bus driver (I hope I heard that correctly) and acquaintance of our teacher since childhood, asked if he could sell some scarves.  He offered them at five for $20 and it was hard not to buy five.  He laid them out on the street and we picked through them.  When our excitement was waning, he went and opened another bag of scarves and put them on the street as well.  He is going to get married in about a week.  Finally we continued down the street.

At the bottom of this walk was the Garden of Gethsemane.  The garden is well manicured and there may be a tree or two there that may be as old as 2000 years, or nearly that old.  Of course, if it is that old it might have been there when Jesus prayed there.  In the nearby church was a rock on which Jesus possibly prayed.  The garden is historic, the rock is traditional.  Whether or not the rock is the same rock, it gives one time to pause and think.

Lunch was buffet, Jewish or at least Middle Eastern for just $10.  What a financial treat.  And now to the museum.  In the first door was an outdoor display of a model fo the city of Jerusalem.  It was a great review of what we had seen, will see and will not see.  We were early for the Tuesday 4:00PM opening of the main part of the museum so we sat with a cup of coffee or tea.  A delightful rest.  Teacher gave us a 30-minute explanation of parts of the museuem related to our tour and then we had 30 minutes to stroll on our own.  It was dark as we left the museum and headed back to the hotel.

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