Palestinian archeologist at Hezekiah’s tunnel

I will add a few more articles on my trip around the Galilee very soon.

I went with some friends to Hezekiah’s tunnel in the City of David museum in Silwan, a volatile Arab neighbourhood close to the Dung Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem.

There is over a mile of tunnels you have to walk through in darkness and in water upto your knees.

I have been here before actually, you can see my original article here.

This plastic pipe seems to be a temporary replacement for the modern drainage system which was removed with this area was dug up.

At the back of the museum is this place, dug up not so long ago.

This places was once a source of water, from the museum web site:-

In June of 2004, municipal workers who were repairing a sewage drain in the City of David were shocked to discover a staircase deep underneath the ground.  Salvage excavations done at the site revealed that the stairs are part of an ancient thoroughfare, leading from the Shiloach Pool – the major water drawing source in Jerusalem from Biblical times, to the Temple Mount over 2300 feet to the north. Excavations conducted by Eli Shukron are discovering the original stones walked upon by the Jewish people as they made their pilgrimage to the Jewish temple most notably on the festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Succoth.

In places, the pavement was broken, revealing an underground drainage channel filled with whole pottery vessels and coins. Josephus Flavius, a famous historian of that period, describes this very place as one where the Jews unsuccessfully attempted to hide during the Roman Revolt in 70 CE.  For over 2,000 years this road has secretly laid, hidden from the world. Today, in the center of Jerusalem, in the historic City of David, we have the unique opportunity to once again reveal this road before the eyes of the world.


Sign here say that this ground on the surface is a cemetery for Arab children.

What surprised me was there was a Palestinian man working in the museum who had a love of history.  Silwan is quite a troubled neighbourhood and often Palestinian groups and their supporters around the world, try to show this part of the world as stolen land, despite the wealth of historical information that shows its been occupied by many different groups of people; Roman, Byzantine, Jewish, Arab, Crusader, Ottoman, British Mandate etc, that have lived here.

This man showed some coins he personally found himself, this coin to the left can be clearly seen as being Roman, the one to the bottom right has a Christian cross on it.

He told us he had his car set on fire by other people in his neighbourhood for working with Jews.   He told us he was not religious and not interested in politics, only liked working at the museum and finding discoveries from past.

  

With the large numbers of Christian visitors that come to this site every day, I am hoping the most of them will be praying for this man, for his safety and for him to find his Lord and saviour.

One we were out the rear entrance of the museum, I found myself in a Palestinian community.

Next to this simple sandwich shop is this fruit tree which I think has plums on it, far from ripe of course.  House opposite has a Palestinian flag on it.   We got a ride back to the main high street in this blue VW taxi van.

Web site of City of David museum and Hezekiah’s tunnel

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Cenacle / The upper room – Room of the last supper

This was a significant biblical location to stumble upon whilst taking a wander around the old city with my friend Dave from South Africa:

Once up the stairs, it was quite busy with lots of tourists from Nigeria and Korea.  There is not much to explain the Cenacle’s significance here, I did notice this unusual brass tree sculpture in the background, as well the domed ceiling held up by the pillars.   This building’s history can be revealed on this wiki article.

I often try to imagine about Jesus and his disciples having Shabbat together.  I am not sure if they had some middle east food like Humus, couscous, etc, which are common when I get together and eat with people I know here.

Arabic writing on this building inside.   I guess from the ownership of Jordanian occupied Jerusalem before 1967.

As typically Jerusalem, no two buildings look the same and there is a big maze of steps and walkways that go all around to neighbouring buildings and equally fascinating places from different historical eras.   On this roof, I am standing on a domed concrete thing which actually has a tiny doorway for an emergency stairway, or it could be a service shed for air conditioning or something.  The church in the distance is Armenian.  More from this part of the old city soon.

In Sepia: Holyland pictures collection part 6

Part 1234 5 6 7

Hot corn stand just inside the Jaffa gate.

Unknown building in the middle of Islamic cemetry, which has partly bricked up doorway.

The Dung Gate.  Faces towards the Arab district of Silwan and King David tunnels.

Interesting candlestick structure in the Peace Park.

Part 1234 5 6 7

Jerusalem Knights – outdoor holyland theatre

I ventured out to the old city at around 10pm after an event at my church…

The flags hung on the road signs here originally got my attention last week, so I decided to take a look, this event is a collection of actors dressed up in costumes in different parts of the old city.

The exact era they are meant to be representing I am not quite sure, as there is none of the posters or dialogue spoken by artists in English.

Its all quite exciting though, the costumes look great, and there is people swarmed into the alleys of the old city following the signs and flags that point to the path to short distance snaking around the street corners to the next artist.

There are Jews, Arabs, Christian pilgrims and foreigners of all sorts here watching what is going on.

The actors and artists are princesses, slaves, musicians, poets and all kinds.

This lady on the left is dressed up in a Covent Garden-esque style as a fountain statue, she is holding a hose pouring water into a bowl below.  There was a kid running around which I was secretly hoping she could ‘accidentally’ put her finger on the end and spray him with water but alas no. 🙂   This musician here could do an older instrument, this guitar looks a bit too modern.

Here the usual traders in the old city are doing business, albeit with a few extra twists.  There are of course the fruit juice squeezer stands and the lounges with strong coffee and smoking pipes, but the young Arab lad with this large metallic teapot on wheels caught me eye, especially when it was not tea or coffee, but this (the name escapes me) particularly pleasant middle east beverage made from hot milk, coconut, cinnamon and lots of sugar = 10 Shekels (UKP1.85)

This fella looks fresh out of a Victorian novel.   Right, the fountain in the centre looks nice illuminated in blue at night.

This was quite a nice evening walk, I may try and bring some friends out here next week as its on every thursday night in October.  If you are around Jerusalem this month check it out.

King David Museum, Hezekiah’s tunnels and Silwan troubles

At the weekend I went around the outer parts of Jerusalem’s old city walls.   Outside of the dung gate, is the south east corner, you head around the corner to see Absalom’s tomb and the Mount of Olives.

Here there is a junction which contains a volatile mix of neighbours.   On the corner is an archaeological dig, containing artifacts that date from King David’s time.   On the same street this is the entrance to the Arab town of Silwan.   This is a much troubled district, and the name Silwan often comes up when there is news of conflicts in this city.

On the news this week you may have seen a picture of a car with a boy in the air upside down in the air having being hit by a car in Silwan after stoning this particular motorist, it seems the Subaru driver sped up or swerved to avoid being hit by the youths.   Seems strange there happened to be someone with a camera who did such a perfect shot of this moment.  http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=190682

A few houses from the corner is this Arab shop with political message outside.

About 3 or 4 more houses across is The City of David museum which has a cinema with a 3D film of biblical history of this place and a guided tour of the buildings and a chance to go under Hezekiah’s tunnels.  I went here last year its well worth a visit.   The tunnels are a mile long of walking – in complete darkness; and, upto your knees in water. 🙂   I didn’t get a picture of the exact front part of this as there armed guards in front.   But looking through the windows you can see the nice decorations outside.

Looking behind back to the old city walls and there are about 40-50 soldiers in uniform getting off a bus.  (not visible, but just around the corner)  Glancing back to the museum front, there is a lone security guard, armed, but unusually (that I have never seen someone holding a handgun out of a holster) he has a pistol in his hand.   Again, I glance down the street to see a group of Arab kids gather outside a shop.  There is nervousness on both sides and the police and army are on alert from recent troubles.

Below you can see the green flag which has a logo representing Israel’s national parks and historical places.  Heading down this street as a foreigner to see the museums is safe but because extra security measures in place, but just a short distance down here, not past the museum where this barrier is.   Beyond this there are rowdy children throwing rocks at the fence where the historical digging is, there is rubbish everywhere and some of the cars look vandalised.

But here in the unpredictable middle east, throwing rocks can be a prelude to starting a war where each side retaliates.  This is one of the many contested bits of property here, ironic given the historic sites and archeological digs that showed who lived here long ago.

I can’t emphasise enough “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and I do feel sorry for the Arab people that live here and are given different messages by different authorities, I hope and pray that Arab people will find their way out of darkness of the regime that governs them (Hamas and Hezbollah)  into the loving arms of the Father.

The Hurva Synagogue

Last week I was in the old city and I went past the famous Hurva Synagogue.

This building was rebuilt and finished in March 2010.   I wanted to go inside, but its only open to the public in the mornings with a groups with a guide.

Following the destruction of this building in the 1948, initial plans for this current synagogue were drawn up in 2000 but the building was not finished until this year in March, about the same week I arrived to do my second season of volunteer work here.   Looking at pictures of the previous synagogue (its been destroyed and rebuilt quite a few times now)  it looks a pretty close copy of the original.

There was a lot worry from possible attacks from Arabs thinking that this a starting point towards building the third temple.   Frequent amounts of history revisionism tries to hide a lot of what has been in this country from the past.  You can click on this photo of a plaque to see this closer.   I think this is a nice icon of the determination of the Jewish people to protect their capital.

In Sepia: Holyland pictures collection part 1

Part 1234 5 6 7

I sometimes pretend to be creative.   Here are some pictures I have done of various parts of the holyland, I have dressed up a bit with sepia and some extra effects.  These are you to enjoy, download them, use them as backdrop for your computer or for any private purposes.

I have listed four today.   A few more will be regularly posted every now and then, so keep this site in your browser favourites.

If you wish to have copies without the branding for private or commercial use, you may do so, please contact me, I would like to ask for a donation as I am volunteering for a charity.  Note, don’t just nab them and use them commercially or cut the edges off, if you do, I reserve the right to expose and make fun of you.   So there. 🙂

Seriously though, a financial gift of some kind would go a long way to help me here as I do volunteer IT work here in Jerusalem.   I am looking at the possibly of after coming home for Christmas, of coming back from January to April-ish.   For this I need to raise at least £500 for flights and health insurance.   Any ideas for fund raising would be greatly appreciated.

Part 1234 5 6 7

Widow’s mite coins for sale

This shop sells coins based in Luke 21:2-4 about the story of the Widow’s copper coins she gave to the temple treasury.

I was on the way to church coming back from the Kotel, so I didn’t get to properly see this shop, but I imagine these coins offered could be genuine as there is an abundance of history under the ground that has been discovered all over Israel.

These sorts of antiquities stores are pretty unusual as they sell jewelery made from pieces of Roman glass found in archelogical sites.  Some of these stores actually fashion pieces of glass that are cut and filed to shape and set in broaches, necklaces etc.

“Never be silent” – the modern day Watchmen of Jerusalem

Last sunday morning I went on a prayer walk on the walls of the old city.

Bart and Joan Repko have been doing this walk 6 days a week (except Shabbat) for some years now, alternating between each half of the edges of the wall, as you can start from either side of the Jaffa gate and finish just behind the Al Asqa Mosque.  You can get a ticket for 16 Shekels and its valid for two days so you can do the other half the next day, just need to start just inside the Jaffa gate.

The aim is to pray over this city and for the frequently volatile atmosphere here.   Often when we are here we can hear the sound of the minarets (Islamic prayer towers) boom out loud voices from different parts of the city.

These steps are quite hard work especially with the fierce midday heat here and it is quite easy to slip as they have hundreds of years of wear…

My friend Marcel is often on this tour.   Check his blog here.

Stunning views into and out of the old city are guaranteed….

Its quite amazing doing this walk as you get to see over into yards, gardens and roofs of all kinds of places.  People in both Arab and Jewish cultures use their roofs as yards, and usually characterised with satellite dishes, old sofas, solar panels (used to run hot water tanks) and various junk.

Gardens are quite popular, whether its a handful of hanging baskets or something quite a bit ambitious, here this person has their own vineyard, think it belongs to an Arab Christian.  I often see orange and lemon trees too.

The group’s name ‘Never be silent’ is taken from Isaiah 62 : 1For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.”

See more about the Never be silent old city prayer tour walks here: www.neverbesilent.org/en/