Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rampart Walk, Western Wall, and the Qidron Valley

Lindsay and Mother started the day by going grocery shopping with Elaine for our Christmas dinner.  Shopping here is always an adventure and a cultural experience in itself.  I spent some time with Rachel and Samuel, playing up in the center gym.

Later in the afternoon, after we had all gotten some lunch, Elaine dropped the girls and me off at Salah-Din Street.  We walked over to Damascus Gate, through the Christian Quarter, and then at Jaffa Gate we went on top of the walls for the southern rampart walk, walking from Jaffa all the way to Dung Gate in the Jewish Quarter.

Lindsay and Rachel before the Citadel, sometimes called "The Tower of David" before we ascended the ramparts
View of West Jerusalem with the King David Hotel in the center

With Rachel on the rampart just south of the Citadel
A view of an open field in the Armenian Quarter on the site of the old Palace of Herod the Great
Herod's Palace was most likely the residence of the Roman governors when they were in Jerusalem, making this (rather than the traditional Fortress Antonia) the likely site of Jesus' trial.

Christian cemetery just south of the walls. Oskar Schindler is buried not far from here

View of Dormition Abbey from the ramparts
View of the Qidron and Hinnom Valleys from the ramparts
When we came down from the rampart at Dung Gate, we took Lindsay to the Western Wall, the holiest extant site in Judaism.  After explaining the history (see earlier blog post Date to the Jewish Quarter) of the wall, Rachel took Lindsay to the women's side while I donned my kippah and went up to the wall on the men's side.  As is the tradition, I took the names of some people we have been praying for up with me, folded them, and placed them in a crack between two of massive stones dating from Herod's time.

Rachel and Lindsay in the Western Wall Plaza

A large hanukkiah before the Western Wall

We ended the day by walking home through the Qidron Valley (it is usually transliterated as "Kidron" because of its spelling in Greek, but in Hebrew it actually starts with a qoph).  The Qidron is a seasonal river that stretches all the way to the Dead Sea, though because of modern drainage there is never any flow for most of its length.  Between the Temple Mount and the City of David on the east and the Mount of Olives on the west, it is the site of tombs on its lower, eastern slope and of olive trees on its middles slopes and modern Arab neighborhoods at its top.

A deep, often shadowy valley which included many tombs on its eastern side in both antiquity and today, it fits well the description of Psalm 23:4. It has particular application to the Passion of Jesus as he walked from the Upper Room to Gethsemane on the last night of his mortal life.

The Qidron Valley at sunset

Second Temple period tombs, including the Tomb of Bnei Hezir and the so-called "Tomb of Zechariah"

Jewish mourners at modern graves

The "Tomb of Absolom," though it dates from the first century and not the time of David and Absalom

With Rachel at "The Tomb of Zechariah"
The Basilica of the Agony near the Garden of Gethsemane

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