Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Holy Land


Who'd have thought that all those Bible stories actually happened? More than that, who'd have imagined that 2000+ years later, Jerusalem is still here, alive and kicking? Stu and I are living it up over here.

On Thursday we visited the Temple - or what's left of it - and saw Jews with phylacteries praying against the Western Wall. Apparently the Shechina glory never left the place, so it's still "a house of prayer for all the nations". Appropriately, there are still people buying and selling souvenirs in the courtyard as well. We went to Caiaphas' house, where Jesus would have been held on the Thursday night; and where Peter and John would have been imprisoned in Acts 4. On Good Friday we walked the Via Dolorosa up to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Golgotha could have been. We walked across the Kidron Valley to Gethsemane, and climbed the Mount of Olives. And we hopped on a bus to Bethlehem to check out the oldest church in the world. Today we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Israel Museum, which include a complete copy of Isaiah from 100AD. Tomorrow morning we'll be at the Garden Tomb at sunrise to celebrate the resurrection. Wow!

There's more to Israel than history of course. Among the more notable cultural sights, we had a Palestinian boy throw stones at us in East Jerusalem, we almost got shot crossing back from the West Bank to Israel (something that 2m Palestinians aren't allowed to do) and had Orthodox Jews rebuke us for carrying a bag on the Sabbath. (They were walking up the street, but never mind.) And who could forget the Palestinian man on the bus back to Jerusalem who was screaming with pain the whole journey - so much so the bus driver took him straight to hospital.

We've had some great chats as well. A Russian Jew called Sergei who's in the army (everyone is, for 3 years) as a bomb disposal expert told us he had to be ready - with his M16 - every second of the day for an attack. A Palestinian boy in Bethlehem called Ahmed who has to sell postcards to tourists to support his family, while also going to school. Not to mention our friend Nathaniel from All Souls who we ran into twice on Friday - once on the Via Dolorosa and once in a restaurant at night.

I think I've forgotten more than I've put down. The internet access here is too expensive and slow to write more or upload photos so more to come later... meanwhile we hope to rent a car tomorrow and Monday to go to Galilee, the Mount of Transfiguration etc. and down to the Dead Sea. Sweet!

1 comment:

m said...

I'm so jealous.