The Holy City of the three monotheistic religions
Silver dome on the left is the Al Aqsa Mosque. The gold DOme to the right is the Dome of the Rock. Both are on the Temple Mount.
22 December 1982 Wednesday. We took a tour with a couple dozen others to the Holy Land for Christmas. We flew EL Al from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv. The security was very tight. A bus took us from the terminal to the plane that was parked at a remote corner of the parking apron. We identified our luggage before we boarded the plane. Otherwise, it was an uneventful flight. Upon arrival in Tel Aviv and after checking through customs and immigration, our tour bus took us to the Hilton in Jerusalem, where we had dinner and an introduction to the Holy land.
23 December 1982 Thursday. We took a walking tour of Old Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate, along the Via de la Rosa with its Stations of the Cross where Christ walked to his crucifixion, to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where the Orthodox and Catholics believe Christ was crucified, buried, and raised again. We later visited the Garden Tomb outside the city gate on the north side, where Protestants believe this occurred. The church is shared by all faiths. We then walked to the Wailing Wall and then up to the Temple Mount where the Al-Aqsa Mosque
and the Dome of the Rock are located now. We walked all over the mount and went into the mosque and the Dome, built over the rock where Abraham’s faith was tested by sacrificing his only son Isaac, until an angel stopped him. Moslem believe that this is where Mohammed was taken up to heaven, so is a highly revered spot for three religions.
24 December 1982 Friday. The tour bus took us to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. We walked through the Garden of Gethsemane and saw 2000 year old olive trees that were there at the time of Christ. We then drove through Bethany to Bethlehem to see caves that shepherds would have used while watching their flocks. We went to the Church of the Nativity to see the spot where the Orthodox and Catholic Churches believe Christ was born, now marked by a gold star in a recessed area. We return to the hotel, but later that evening several of us from the tour group caught a bus back to spend Christmas Eve in Bethlehem.
25 December 1982 Saturday. Christmas Day The tour bus took us
to the Dead Sea to visit the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Then we went to the Dead Sea for a swim in the very salty water which made it easy to float. Next was Masada, one of Herod the Great’s fortresses on the top of a high butte near the Dead Sea, where a remnant of an extremist sect of the Zealots withstood a siege by the Roman governor Silva, until his forces built a ramp that could deploy a battering ram. When the wall was breached, he found that the 960 inhabitants had killed themselves rather than live in slavery. We then drove north to Jericho and explored the excavation of the 3000 year old city wall that appears to have collapsed. We could see the Mount of Temptation in the distance. We also visited the Jordan River at the site where Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. We returned to Jerusalem on the road that the Good Samaritan story took place.
26 December Sunday. We departed Jerusalem for Nablus, located between Mt Ebal and Mt Gerizim, and is the location of Jacob’s Well, the well that Christ met the Samaritan woman.
Garden of Gethsemene with 2000 yr old olive trees
One of these trees was where Christ prayed the evening he was betrayed by Judas and taken prisoner by the Temple guards
There was still a small Samaritan community there, and we were shown a very ancient scroll of the Pentateuch. From there we drove to Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. We had a lunch of St Peters fish. We then took a boat ride from there to Capernaum and visited the archeological site of an ancient synagogue where Christ often read and expounded upon the Old Testament scriptures. We drove up the Golan Heights and then to a kibbutz where we had dinner and spent the night.
27 December 1982 Monday. The tours next stop was the ancient city of Acre where we saw the port area. We then drove up Mt Carmel where Elisha confronted the prophets of Baal, and called down fire from heaven to consume his offering. The view from the top was beautiful looking over the Mediterranean. We then drove to Caesarea, the Roman capital of Palestine and saw the aqueduct along the sea shore. We finished our tour in Tel Aviv where we. We walked around this modern city, ate dinner, and spent the night in a hotel on the beach.
28 December 1982 Tuesday. Again, very strict security at the Ben Gurion
Airport, and then an uneventful flight to Frankfurt and drive home.
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