Mount of Olives panorama

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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jerusalem, Day 5 - Huqoq

Woke up early and went for one last run in the Holy City.  Since we are staying just inside the Jaffa Gate, part of my run included exploring the stretch of walls from the Citadel to Mount Zion, in what is called "The Builders of Jerusalem Garden."  Confirmed the existence of some interesting things I had read about regarding Pilate and the probable site of Jesus' Roman trial (more below, in the section that begins with "The Builders of Jerusalem Garden").  Then descended down into "hell" (sheol or the Hinnom Valley) in search of some tombs I never found.  But it was a good run!

After we checked out of the Guest House and had stored our luggage, we attended the Trinity Sunday service at Christ Church.  Well, at least most of it.  Rachel and I worshiped here with the Christ Church congregation several times when we lived here, and although I always prefer higher church Anglican services, this broad church congregation always enjoys spirited evangelical singing and worship mixed with some Hebrew and Messianic Jewish elements.  Today's homily was a little long, however, and we were short on time, so we needed to slip out before the eucharist part of the service, which is always my favorite part.

Not sure what Lori and Royd thought when Rachel and I joined in with the spirited praise singing!

Some pictures of the Citadel, wrongly called the Citadel of David. It uses some of the foundations of Herod's three monumental towers, named after his brother Phasael, his friend Hippicus, and his wife Mariamne.  His palace was just south of this.

We then took Lori and Royd to the "Tower of David Museum" (even though the Citadel, as the fortress is more properly known) actually has nothing to do with David.  It afforded great views of the city from the top of the Phasaleis Tower and then an interesting museum of the different periods of Jerusalem's history.

The Phasaleis Tower also affords impressive views of Jerusalem in all directions:

Looking down on a procession of Armenian clergy below the Citadel

Below are pictures of sections of the wall south of the citadel and north of Mount Zion, called "The Builders of Jerusalem Garden."  Fascinating, though few tourists ever go here.  You need to walk on foot from Jaffa Gate . . .. 

As we exited the Citadel, we looked at the different periods of fortifications represented in the stretch of walls that extended to the south.  The walls themselves, of course, date back to the Turkish 1538 construction, but there are some foundations and lower courses visible from the Hasmonean, Herodian, and Byzantine periods.  It was the Herodian remains that interested me most, because they date to the time of Jesus.

The most interesting part of this to me is the so-called Hidden Gate, which is believed to be an exterior gate of the fortified complex comprising Herod's Palace.  I have long held the position that Roman governors such as Pilate would have subsequently occupied the palace, as they did in Caesarea. The multi-colored, fine-paved courtyard known from literary sources would then be the lithostroton or pavement where Pilate tried Jesus (it is unlikely that a governor and his family would have lived and worked in the Antonia Fortress, the traditional location, because it was little more than an army barracks).
 Archaeologist Shimon Gibson, however, maintains in his The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence that the trial would not have been held inside the palace but rather outside, in front of crowds, making this a very important possible location.

In this drawing, note the steps leading out of the barracks area . . . this is where Jesus would have been presented to the waiting crowds.

With my daughter, Rachel, on remnants of the Herodian steps.

My sister has joined us here for some of the remnants a little farther out.

Interestingly, the Herodian Family Tomb that we visited the other day lies directly across the western valley and can be seen when standing in this gateway area.  In other words, Herod may have seen himself and his family living in their palace across the valley from the tomb where deceased members of the family were interred (though Herod himself was buried in his massive Herodion southeast of Bethlehem).

The top the tomb complex is a bit of light rock n the center of the picture, divided by a pine tree in front of it

Closer view of the tomb complex as seen from the west gate of Herod's palace

The tomb complex below the King David Hotel in a picture taken 5/13/14 when we visited it

Rachel and I then walked over to King David Street to pick up our rental car and then drove it back to the Christ Church Guest House to pick up our luggage and say goodbye to Lori and Royd.  As you can see, this bright green car was hard to miss!

We then drove up to Mount Scopus for a final visit to the center.  After lunch with my Jerusalem "boss," Eran Hayet, we then got to see head of security and all-around-cool-guy Tarek Safedi.

 It was then time to drive through the West Bank (secure areas on Hwy 90 only) up to Galilee.

We at last arrived at Quibbutz Huqoq, where we were joining the Huqoq excavations directed by Jodi Magness of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and assisted by my colleague at BYU, Matt Grey.

Matt met us at the date of the quibbutz and walked us around after diner.

Tverya (Tiberias) as seen from Huqoq

Mount Arbel as seen from Huqoq

Horns of Hattin, scene of the infamous Crusader defeat, as seen from Huqoq

Huqoq cemetery

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