Tuesday (January 8) was our second (or three) days in Jerusalem. Here is a summary of some of the things we saw…
This photo isn't very exciting, but let me explain what it is. I took this photo standing on a platform at the northern end of the "City of David." That would Ancient Jerusalem – in the days of David. The reason this photo is important is it shows that Ancient Jerusalem was built on a hill and how David's palace was a top of that hill (near the Temple).
But notice that photo and re-read this passage (that you've heard many times): 2 Samuel 11:1-3
1In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.”
The reason I took this picture is so you can see how easily David could see much of his city from the roof of his palace. Perhaps you've wondered how David saw Bathsheba. From his roof – it wasn't difficult. And this passage hints that Bathsheba wouldn't have expected David to be looking because her husband was at war – so certainly her king was there too. That's what kings did – led their people into battle. But David was at home when he should have been at war.
This is the famous "Western Wall" in Jerusalem. It is the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. This is the holiest place in Jerusalem for Jews because it is the closest they can get to where the Holy of Holies once stood. Because the Muslims have possession of the Temple Mount, they refuse to go onto the Temple Mount until they "own" it again. Orthodox Jews are taught that it would cause them to be impure if they went onto the Temple Mount – so they stay at the base – as close to the Holy of Holies as they can get. The wall is stuffed with pieces of paper that are prayers written by Jews who stand at the wall and pray. I've never seen it with just one person. I've walked by the wall many times in my two visits – and I've never seen it like this. It was because it was cold and rainy today.
We went underground and toured the "Western Wall Tunnel." This is below ground and it an amazing tour. We passed this man who was praying at the location that is as close to where the Holy of Holies used to be. On the plane to Israel, there were many Orthodox Jews and they would find a "corner" on the plane, put on their phylacteries and pray. All I could think of was Matthew 6:5-6:
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Sadly, there is no doubt that there is still a lot of "prayer for show" in Jerusalem.
Three of us broke off from the group to go take a look at Hezekiah's tunnel. (This is a long story that I will try to keep brief). Hezekiah was one of my favorite kings of Judah (during the Divided Kingdom). Perhaps, other than Josiah, no other king has as much written about what he did.
But if you don't want to read the entire story – we viewed two things from Hezekiah's day. One is the Broad Wall. Here is a photo:
Hezekiah was preparing for an invasion from Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. Hezekiah wanted to enclose more of the city inside the walls – so he built this "Broad Wall." The part you see here is ten feet tall and up to 24 feet wide.
2 Chronicles 32:5 talks about these preparations for invasion:
5 Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields.
The three of us that broke off from the group wanted to hike the Hezekiah tunnel but because of cold water and a lot of rain – we decided to hike the dry tunnel from the Caananite days (not as long or deep and didn't carry water). You can see that Andrew and Tim don't have socks on. The early part of the tunnel had a few inches of water in it and we didn't want wet shoes and socks for the rest of the day – so we went barefoot through the tunnel.
Here is a photo of Hezekiah's tunnel:
Hezekiah dug this tunnel to get fresh water into the city. In ancient days – the way you commonly "attacked" a city is by not allowing anyone in our out of the city walls. And cities were often built on top of hills for defense purposes, and often the springs are found at the bottom of the hill. So if you cut off the water supply and food supply (by not letting them go to their fields) – you can conquer the city. Hezekiah had a secret tunnel dug so they could still get water.
You can read about it in 2 Kings 20:20:
20 As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?
It is just a brief mention in the Scriptures, but that tunnel is still there today.