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Israel, Photo Album II

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S: Israel - March 2010 Photo Album II

FC: Israel March 2010 | with Ann Nibert and Sharon Olyphant Photo Album II

1: Via Dolorosa (Path of Sorrow or Way of the Cross) is held to be the path that Jesus walked, carrying his cross to his crucifixion. The traditional route starts just inside the Lion's Gate in the Muslim Quarter and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Christian Quarter. | Monday, March 15, 2010

2: The First Station of the Cross is near the Monastery of the Flagellation, the traditional site where Jesus was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate. The Second Station is located in the remains from the Roman times beneath the Ecce Homo Convent and includes a portion of an arch and the Struthion Pool, an ancient water reservoir from 2nd century BC. | The Via Dolorosa pilgrimage has been followed since early Christianity after Constantine legalized the religion in the 4th century AD.

3: Also beneath the Ecce Homo Convent, is the Lithostrotos (pavement), where Jesus may have stood for his trial. It also has the markings of games played by the Roman soldiers.

4: For a better view of the Muslim Quarter, we climbed to the top of this four story building. In the top right corner of the photo to the right, we saw the two domes of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where we would end our tour.

5: These Muslim boys are on their way home from school, as this soldier keeps a watchful eye.

6: Before continuing on our route to the Holy Sepulcher Church, we took a break for lunch. Watching these cute Muslim girls on their way home from school and the other busy street activity was very interesting.

7: One could not miss the military and police presence around us.

8: In the 4th century, Constantine converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of the Roman Empire. This made it possible for the pilgrims to safely travel the path of the Via Dolorosa. Although the route has changed several times since the 4th century, the pilgrimage has great meaning to the traveler due to its proximity to the original events and the reflection upon them. | Much of the route is lined with shops on both sides selling souvenir items, food and drink.

9: At the Third Station of the Cross, Jesus falls for the first time. The place is marked by a small Armenian Catholic Chapel. | At the Fifth Station, Simon the Cyrenian carries the Cross for Jesus. | At the Fourth Station, Jesus meets his mother. Her grief over the torture and execution of her son is unimaginable.

10: The Seventh Station of the Cross was known as Judgment Gate because Jesus' death sentence was posted here. Here, it is said that Jesus fell for the second time. | At the Sixth Station behind this gate, Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with her veil.

11: Church of the Holy Sepulcher houses under one roof all of the sites of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus. In the early 1st century BC, the site was a disused quarry outside the city walls. Tombs dating back to this time period were carved into the west wall of the quarry. The first church was completed in 335 AD under the direction of Constantine to commemorate the place of Christ's resurrection. | The stairs in the above photo lead to the Catholic's Chapel of the Franks, the 10th Station of the Cross where Jesus was stripped of his garments.

12: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher floor plan illustrates how this large church is compartmentalized. Six sects of Christendom are the custodians of the Church - Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and the Syrian Orthodox. | Sadly, the six sects display jealous rivalries over the goings-on within the Church and fight over rights and rules, and whose faith is in charge. Upon entering the Church, the first impression is the overwhelming ornateness where gold and silver seems to drip from the many icons. There is no reminder of how the site may have appeared at the time of Christ.

13: Inside the Greek Orthodox Chapel (below), is a rocky outcropping which is the traditional place where the cross was placed. The rock can be touched through a small opening directly below the gold framed picture. The rock can also be seen through glass on either side of the alter. | Place of Crucifixion The Twelfth Station

15: which is said to hold the tomb of Jesus, is comprised of two chambers. The first chamber holds "The Angel's Stone" which is a fragment of the stone believed to have sealed the tomb and the second chamber is Christ's tomb. To the right, the Dome of the Rotunda lights the Edicule. | The Edicule The fourteenth Station

16: The Chapel of St Helena is an Armenian chapel with a large and very interesting mosaic floor. Along the 29 steps down to the Chapel of St Helena, we saw a multitude of crosses scratched into the wall by medieval pilgrims.

17: As we were about to leave the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, we noticed a ladder on the ledge below the right window of the main entrance. We learned that a ladder has been there since the mid-1800's. According to one legend, it was first used to take food to the Armenian monks who were locked inside. Later, the Greek Orthodox wanted it removed, but the Armenians would not cooperate. The ladder has been there since and is part of the Status Quo of the Armenian Church. | A few more steps to the lowest part of the church reveals that it stands on the site of a very ancient burial ground. Called the Tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, these burial shafts are clearly from the time of Christ's death.

18: (Hebrew for Fortress) is a natural rugged fortress that is located at the western end of the Judean Desert and sits on a rock plateau about 1400 feet above the Dead Sea. Herod the Great, King of Judea, built his palace/fortress in 37 BC -31 BC as a refuge in case of Jewish revolt. Herod had been made king by his Roman overlords and was hated by his Jewish subjects. He ruled from 37 BC until his death in 4 BC. | A man-made oasis in the desert with successful application of a solar-powered desalination system. | Tuesday, March 16, 2010 Masada

19: Natural approaches to Masada are very difficult to climb, so we welcomed the modern cable cars. | As our cable car climbed toward the summit, we had a very impressive view of the valley floor and the ancient Roman camps.

20: A view of the Dead Sea from Masada

21: Here are remnants of a significant wall around the plateau with many towers, the palace, storehouses, barracks, armory and large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater. This would have provided essential provisions for a time of siege.

22: After Herod's death, the Jewish rebels took over Masada in 66 AD. When Jerusalem was taken by the Romans in 70 AD, the last survivors of the Jewish revolt (about 1000 people) took refuge here. The Jewish people converted one of Herod's buildings into a Synagogue. | There were three columbarium towers (dovecots)' The bottom area was used to house doves and the upper story as a watchtower. The doves supplied meat for the inhabitants and their droppings provided fertilizer.

23: Herod's Thermal Bathhouse had a floor suspended on 200 pillars. The furnace outside of the room sent hot air under the floor. | The painted black lines on some sites separate the original structure from the restoration. Everything below the black line is original to that time period.

24: In 73 AD, The Romans marched against Masada. They established several camps at the base and laid siege to fortress. When their attempts failed, they constructed a ramp with thousands of tons of rock and dirt up to the summit of the mountain. On top of the ramp, they built a siege tower. In the Spring of 74 AD, it became clear that the Romans would break through. To avoid surrender and slavery, the almost 1000 Jewish men, women and children decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives.

25: "Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jewish people to be free."

26: The En Gedi is situated on the western side of the Dead Sea and borders the Judean Desert. With its two fresh water springs, it is a lovely preserve of wildlife (including the Rock Hyrex on the left), bushes, trees and waterfalls. Around 1000 BC, David once took refuge in these caves from King Saul who pursued him relentlessly. When David surprised the King at one of the caves and spared his life, Saul said David would succeed him to the throne.

28: The sound of the waterfalls surrounded by lush bushes and trees provides a very tranquil setting.

29: A mother Ibex takes care of her two young. | Our high position provides a good view of the Dead Sea.

30: Qumran Caves | During the days when Jesus walked the earth, a small Jewish settlement existed on the northwestern shore overlooking the Dead Sea. Its people laboriously copied the Old Testament onto parchment made of sheep skins. These scrolls were then hidden in the nearby caves of Qumran | In 1947, a young Bedouin goat herder discovered the clay jars containing the "Dead Sea Scrolls" in one of the caves of Qumran. The highlight of the discovery was an eight yard long perfectly preserved manuscript of Isaiah. The scrolls predated Jesus and authenticated the prophecy of Isaiah. From the eleven Qumran caves, every Old Testament book is represented except Esther.

31: This settlement at Qumran dates back to the 8th - 7th centuries BC.

32: The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth at 1300 feet below sea level. Because it is at the lowest point, water never drains away from the lake. This does not eliminate the continued drop in the water level. The Jordan River is the major source of water but 70-90% of the river water is used for human purposes. Add the natural evaporation, the desalinaton and the extraction of minerals, the water level has dropped significantly causing huge sink holes along the shore line. With a 26%-35% salinity, the Dead Sea is also the saltiest. It is 8.6 times saltier than the ocean and can not support marine inhabitation. | Many resorts also line the shores on the far side of the Dead Sea or the Jordanian side.

33: The extremely high salt and mineral content of the mud and water are known for their healing qualities and for maintaining healthy skin. Travelers from all over the world come to take advantage of these magical waters. Cosmetics from this region are very popular.

34: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Yad Vashem - Holocaust Museum is Israel's memorial to the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by Nazi Germany from 1933 to the end of World War II in 1945. The personal items, photographs, authentic films and individual testimonies are very emotional to view and leaves one wondering how could something so terrible have happened.

35: The Children's Memorial for one and a half million children who perished in the Holocaust is housed in an underground cavern. Inside, flickering flames of memorial candles are reflected in an infinity of tiny lights within the darkness. The names, ages and countries of the children are read aloud.

36: Yad Vashem also honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. Their names are engraved on walls and trees are planted to honor them. To the right, a tree was planted for Oskar Schindler's efforts to save Jews, which became known as Schindler's list. The exit of the museum, faces the forest of Jerusalem.

37: The Israel Museum of Jerusalem is the largest cultural institution in Israel. | Covering nearly one acre of the Museum grounds, this model reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the Second Temple Period. | According to tradition, this is how the Second Temple appeared in 66 BC prior to the destruction of the Temple and city by the Romans.

38: Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum | Shrine of the Book was built to resemble the clay jar covers in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran. Directly beneath the dome is the replica of the Great Isaiah Scroll, written in 100 BC and comprised of 66 chapters sewn together to form the 23 feet long, oldest Biblical manuscript. The display case is in the form of an ancient scroll.

39: For our afternoon free time, Tim and Susan Kral suggested checking out part of the Jerusalem Wall and walking the Old City ramparts. Our little group of six had a great experience and fabulous view of Jerusalem. Today's walls surrounding the Old City of Jerusalem were built in the 16th century at the command of the Ottoman ruler Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

40: The Ramparts Walk We found access to the walk behind the minaret of the mosque built on the base of the Tower of David across from Jaffa Gate. The wall roughly follows the outline of the ramparts that existed at the time of ancient Roman Jerusalem. | A view of the western Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem from the wall.

41: The Dormition Basilica and the bell tower were built in the second half of the 19th century by German Catholics of the Benedictine Order. Adjacent to the church is the Armenian Cemetery

42: Facts about the Jerusalem Walls The walls stretch for 2.8 miles rising to a height of 48 feet with an average thickness of 10 feet. Along the course of the walls are 11 gates to the Old City, seven of which are open: New Gate, Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, Lions Gate, Dung Gate, Jaffa Gate and Zion Gate. The walk required a lot of stair climbing and descending.

43: From here we have a view of the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. | We descended from the Rampart into the Armenian Quarter. | The views of Jerusalem from the ramparts were quite impressive.

44: Located outside the City Walls of Jerusalem is a two acre oasis believed by some Christians to be the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. Jesus was crucified outside the city walls at a place called Golgotha. There was a garden belonging to a rich man by the name of Joseph of Arimathea. Of course a garden would need water. This garden contains one of the largest and oldest (2,000 years) cisterns in Jerusalem. However, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher was also outside the walls during the time of Jesus. | The Christian symbol located above the tomb. | Thursday, March 18, 2010 The Garden Tomb

45: Why are there two places in Jerusalem representing the crucifixion of Jesus - the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Garden Tomb? The Garden Tomb was discovered in 1867. All of the tombs in the garden area date back from the 7th - 9th centuries BC, the time of Isaiah rather than Jesus.. The tombs beneath the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were new to the time of Jesus. Some find it more fitting to pray in the Garden Tomb area in contrast to the crowded Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Others find the actual geographic location less relevant than the spiritual meaning of the story. A lovely service by Chuck Swindoll was very meaningful and memorable for our last day in Israel.

46: St Peter in Gallicantu Church was built on the slopes of Mount Zion in 1931. According to tradition, this was the site of the palace of the high priest Caiaphas, where Jesus was brought to jail following his arrest. This was also the place of Peter's disgrace. The name Gallicantu means the cock's crow after the story of Peter's thrice denial of Christ and the cock crowing twice. | The church overlooks the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives. To the right is the door of the church.

47: Under the church is a dungeon thought to be the cell where Jesus was detained. The only access to the cell was through a shaft from above by means of a rope harness. Adjacent to the cell was a guardroom with only a small window or peephole for viewing the prisoners.

48: In the Kidron Valley at the foot of the Mount of Olives is Avshalom's tomb, which he had built himself. Avshalom was the son of David, but mutinied against his father and was killed. Above right: A mosaic of the Holy City of Jerusalem. Below right: A special Jewish event was taking place adjacent to the Cardo.

49: Originally paved in the 2nd century, the Cardo was a wide colonnaded street running through the heart of Old Jerusalem. The lower photo with its columns leads your eye to a mural which gave us the feel of an ancient Roman street. | Original Pavement of that time period.

50: Temple Mount Overlook and The Gold Menorah On display at the Temple Mount overlook is a reconstruction of the Second Temple Period Gold Menorah by Temple Institute of Old City. It is made of 24 carat gold and even though it is hollow, it weights 95 pounds. From the overlook, we have a different perspective of the sites we had visited earlier.

52: Once you leave the colonnaded street of Roman times, the Cardo is once again a shopping street lined with bright colors and a large variety of food items.

54: The Regency Jerusalem Hotel, our home for five nights, had lovely accommodations that were brightened by this Jewish wedding. At our last dinner together, we said good-bye to some wonderful people including our very talented Tour Team.

55: Photo Album by Ann Nibert | Exploring the Biblical history and the varied cultures of this very small country of Israel was an incredible experience. Walking in this land and transporting our minds to the meaning of these ancient events gave us a travel experience like no other. The significance of all of the sites and the shared thoughts will always be a spiritual inspiration. | Shalom!

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Ann Nibert
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