Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Caves of Machpela, Hevron Israel

To visit Hebron is to steep yourself in Jewish history as you walk in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Joshua, King David and the Maccabees.
This structure is built over the Caves of Mechpela, also known as the Cave of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Under its walls you find the supposed final resting place of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sara, Rebecca and Leah. Most believe it is also the burial site for Adam and Eve. Could this be one of the reasons for Abraham insisting that he purchase the land at fair market value? He was grieving the loss of Sara who lived to be 127 years old. As I did more reading on Hebron I find it to be the final resting place of Jesse, King David's father and Ruth, his GGgrandmother. We remember their stories well but when travelling in Israel so much happens in such a small area, it is hard to grasp.

In the days of Herod the Great, which was over 2,000 years ago, huge walls were built over and around the ancient caves. Upon  a closer look at these stones you will notice they are like the ones on the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. Herod's stone workers lined up the corners perfectly and all these years later they remain so. It is incredible to see.

The Star of David in the stonework.

Ritual hand washing. I like the color of the tiles mixed with the concrete, marble and stone floor.

The inner chambers have an Arabesque flavor to their colors and decor.

A menorah sits in the window giving us a glimpse of the town of Hevron.

This is the second most Holy Jewish site in Israel. This corner is believed to be the closest
to the burial chambers holding the Patriarchs. The land being purchased makes it Jewish property and its ownership cannot be disputed.

A Jewish man prays at the wall.

Genesis 23:17-20
17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.

If this isn't the true burial site one thing remains clear. This land was the field of Machpela. It is the land of Biblical Hebron (Hevron).

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Jerusalem Sunset

Behold, He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.

The traditional burial site at the Garden Tomb.
There is good question as to this being the actual tomb where Jesus was
laid. The other probable site is the Holy Sepulchre.

The Garden Tomb is run only by donations and volunteers.
They do a wonderful job of keeping it a beautiful garden.
It's peaceful and we enjoyed a time of worship thanks to Richard.

A wine press

Stunning colors

I AM the Way, said Jesus.....

Traditional Golgotha. If you look closely you will see what appears to be two eyes and a nose.
It was different but recent erosion has left this new image. Scripture tell us it was referred to as the "place of a skull" based on the Hebrew language. You also notice the busy bus stop below.
My mind imagines a lonely hill far from anything else where my Christ was crucified. I dare say
a bus stop is not what we envision to be below. I wanted you to understand what it's really like today.

Next we head to Mount Olivet. You can click the picture for a better view.
Most people do not understand that the rock-like images you see are actually tombs.
The white curvy path near the bottom is the path through the Kidron Valley. 
For over 3,000 years the Mount of Olives has been a Jewish cemetery. There are more than 150,000
graves. It is named for the olive grove that once covered her slopes. So before the time of Jesus this mount has been a place of burial. Imagine when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane that it was an olive grove and graves already surrounded the area.

Here we stand looking from Mount Olivet to the Old City. You can see the Eastern Gate entrance near the right edge of the photo.

These are some of the closest graves.

We read Scriptures from the Mount as the sun begins its descent.

We can hardly keep from taking pictures as the sun goes down and the color of the city changes.
Below you will notice a pink glare on the lower center of the photo. 
This would be the walls of the original City of David.

The walls of the Old City are lit beautifully. Night is here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Biblical Foundation

Oh, the crash course in Hebrew! Our teacher only spoke Hebrew and nothing else. You had to "get it" or not "get it".  As time went on I began to remember a few words that we learned when Pastor A. taught a week long course for people who wanted to serve in Israel.  We were awarded some cool t-shirts for our efforts. Courses are available here: eteacher , it's pricey but I don't think you'll be sorry and for homeschoolers it does provide a foreign language. You WILL speak fluently. And how cool would it be to say you speak Hebrew???  This course is used by the gov't to teach the children of ambassadors.

Dr. Shimon Yazersky is a dentist by trade and has a passion for teaching the Biblical Foundations of Judaism.  Although I felt I was trying to be swayed towards his religion I listened and learned. Thank goodness Jesus set us free from the law. I have an appreciation for some of the recorded laws but Thank You Jesus.

On the bus to the Biblical City of David.
Can you even imagine? On the way we were asked to share a little about who we are and what we do.
I found myself saying, "I'm the homeschool mother of three, a pastors wife, business owner and called to serve Israel".  Here, Brick shares a little about himself. He's from Texas too!

We arrive near the Old City and stop for an early lunch. We are in the Mamilla shopping area. Here the stores are all modern as are the fashions. It's laid out nicely and this is where we were hi-jacked by a kind old gentleman who took us to his store. There, I was promised 40% off my purchases...but not really. I had to take my things back after academy because if you say 40% it better happen.
 Honesty please...it goes a long way with me.
Aroma is the best place for coffee and I had iced coffee and salad. Rhea joins me for a moment.

Entrance to the City of David. 
When I was little I remember a song, "Little David, play on your harp Hallelu Hallelu....."
This harp at the entrance is beautiful and the gauze fabric behind it creates the 
illusion of a painting. I'll be using it as inspiration with my painting. Can't wait!

We descend into the water tunnels of old, Gihon Springs. These Cannanite tunnels are older than Hezekiah's Tunnel which is deeper and probably most well known.

It's been here for centries.

Maureen and I pose again...can somebody pinch us? We have continually felt
honored to be a part of this event and we'd just have fun in a mud hole by ourselves if we had to...
or fun in the water tunnels. Thank you Jesus for an adventurous friend.

There are places where the path narrows drastically. 
Remain calm.... Fresh air is coming. 

Outside we see these olive trees. They are about 1,000 years old.

They are twisted and knotted and produce fruit.
Are we not like that? Our lives are twisted and knotted and God choses us.

A quick break to talk about where we are what we've seen.

Directly across is an Arab neighborhood. You will see later on how they live. I always photograph this neighborhood as it is seen from the City walls and my eyes are always drawn to it.

Incredible! These are the original walls that surrounded David's kingdom. Later his son Solomon would build his kingdom across the Kidron where Mt. Moriah was purchased for 600 shekels of gold.

The olive tree in relation to its surroundings. You will notice it isn't very tall.

Looking across the remains of the walls, the Kidron and to the hills.

Pool of Siloam
... Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. John 9:7

Join me in the next post which will take us to the Garden Tomb and end with
 sunset over the Old City.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Kidron Valley

A beautiful mural was painted in the cardo. I hear if you stand just right you will look 
like part of it in a photograph. 

There is nothing special about touching the Wailing Wall other than.....
I wanted to touch it because you can see where it's smooth from thousands upon
thousands of people praying here. 

We made our way down to the Kidron. Here, I briefly took over as tour guide.
This was a place I was familiar with and took the girls to see the tombs.  The Kidron Valley separates the Old City from the Mount of Olives. King David crossed here as he fled from Absalom; Jesus crossed over coming from the Mt. of Olives.
 It became the receptacle for all manner of impurities. Asa destroyed idols of his mother, Athaliah was executed Urijah from Egypt was executed and his body thrown among the comman graves. The uncleaness from the Temple was brought here to the Brook of Kidron.

The Pillar of Absalom. See how small we are? It is majestic.

I was happy to share an unusual part of Jerusalem with my friends. 
You won't get this on any other tour.

We circled around the Tomb of Zechariah. These are more than likely monuments named for them.
I need to read more.

Looking toward the city from the Tombs in Kidron. That long path you see...
it's where we go next. Back up...everything is uphill in Jerusalem.

Behind me you see the curve of the Kidron and the banks that lead up to the city.

The long long walk. Uphill, of course.

We reach the top and walked along the parapets and walls.  
We had to climb up for pictures.

As we wandered back through the city we stumbled upon a large group of people and decided to see what they were visiting. We were stunned to find, The Church of the Holy Sepulcre.

It is enormous and beautiful and most likey the burial spot for Jesus.

I lit a candle because I could. I have never even been in a Catholic church but the candles were there.

We were picked up from Beit Shmuel near the Old City and taken to our guesthouse,
Beit Yehuda. We were welcomed by this very large banner so we posed for our first 
Academy shot. We made it!