Presentation on theme: "Lenten Journey with Jesus Week 5: Jerusalem Part 1."— Presentation transcript:
Lenten Journey with Jesus Week 5: Jerusalem Part 1
Traveling to the city of Jerusalem takes you back in time. Jerusalem is a strange city, both ancient and modern, old and new, high tech and old fashioned. On the one hand there is the modern Jerusalem with modern buildings, cell phone towers, international companies, and big salaries, then there is ancient Jerusalem the city of David, the final stop on Jesus’ last days on earth. There is so much to do and see in Jerusalem one cannot see it all at once. For purposes of this course we are taking two lessons to go over the highlights of Jerusalem.
The first thing you’ll notice that clearly the Old City is the big attraction here. Most pilgrims and tourists do not even bother traveling around the modern sections of Jerusalem, after all most modern cities are all the same: hotels, glass buildings, banks, and so forth.
A map of the Old City of Jerusalem:
You’ll notice a few things right away. First, you’ll see that Jerusalem has grown quite a bit, from its early days even till the time of Jesus. The darker beige areas was the original walled in areas during the time of Jesus and the pinker areas was walled in later. So when Jesus died you will notice that he was crucified at Golgotha which during the time of Jesus was “outside’ the city gates, but now when you go to Jerusalem it is ‘inside” the city gates.
Jerusalem is a walled city which means that there is a large wall encircling the Old City. Today you are allowed to walk along the ramparts (the top of the wall) and there are various lookouts along the entire wall to see below. It is fascinating to see the various sites and take in the smells and sounds below. Jerusalem is always bustling, loud with merchants shouting and many pilgrims walking around. In the pictures and videos of Jerusalem you will see parts of the tops of the wall cut out so that soldiers could shoot out if enemies were attacking.
The walls of course were erected to protect the city from invaders and enemies. The walls are thick. Every so often there is a gate in the walls to allow people in. These gates are ancient and you can see on the map that they have names: Jaffa Gate, Lion Gate, Fish Gate, Water Gate, and so forth. These gates allowed merchants in and out during the time of Jesus and was used for protection, guards and soldiers would have been protecting each of the gates.
You’ll also notice the Temple. It was very large. In the scriptures we know that there were two Temples, the first Temple, originally built by King Solomon was destroyed by the Babylonians and was later rebuilt and finished under the reign of King Herod. The Temple is no longer there but the retaining wall is and that is now called or referred to as the Wailing Wall. Every day Jews from around the world, and also non Jews as well, come and offer prayers at the Wailing Wall. It is a very solemn and holy place. Some very strict Jews want to rebuild the Temple and other Jews do not, saying that God does not want another Temple. The other thing you notice about Jerusalem, and also the Holy Land in general is the amount of fighting and arguing that goes on; who controls which holy site, who runs things. The fighting is not just between Jew, Christian, and Arab, it is also fighting among Jewish groups or among Christian groups, and so forth. There are armed soldiers everywhere in the city to protect the tourists as well as the residents. On the one hand you feel safe but on the other hand you also realize the everyday situation that there is danger and anger among residents there; the religious tension is very thick in the Holy Land and in Jerusalem in particular.
Jerusalem during the time of Jesus, and even today, is a very dense and compact area. Narrow meandering streets weave in and out without rhyme or reason and is very easy to get lost. You can walk around for hours and forget where you started, some sections of the streets are covered and rather dark, others are open allowing the sun and the blue sky to shine down. You’ll also notice the smells; fresh meat, mostly lamb cooking, as well as fresh bread being baked, and fresh cheese being sold. And lots of smoke too, merchants will cook the meat right on the sidewalk and the odors just waft into the air.
The most ancient section of Jerusalem is called the city of David which is just outside the walled area. In the Old Testament King David united both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Even though he was originally from Bethlehem he chose Jerusalem to be his capital, hence the name city of David. Over time layer upon layer of city was built and the map above shows more or less what the city looked like.
This aerial map shows the density of the city, you can see the basic outline of the walled in part:
Toward the lower right hand of this picture is the outline of what was the original Temple. Currently the only thing that is still standing from the original Temple is the retaining wall or the Wailing Wall as it is called. You will notice a large shiny dome in the middle of the Temple foundation that is the Dome of the Rock the famous Muslim shrine where it was said that the prophet Mohammed ascended into heaven. There is a mosque there and at one point anyone could go visit. However due to security reasons non-Muslims are not allowed to go on the Temple Mount, there is strict rules and it has been said that riots are caused if a non-Muslim goes.
Basically then you can see the contention, down below Jews are allowed to pray at the Wailing Wall, but above, on the Temple Mount itself there is a Muslim place of prayer; again, just another example of religious anger, animosity, and strife. There is also a mosque (holy place of prayer) for the Muslims on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is probably one of the most famously photographed places in the Holy Land, it is quite beautiful, especially when the sun shines on the golden domes. At one time anyone could walk on the Temple Mount and take pictures and video, however several years ago riots broke out because of religious tensions so the Temple Mount is only reserved for Muslims, even last year the Prime Minister of Israel attempted to ascend the steps of the Temple Mount and riots broke out. It is hard to imagine the anger among people until you see some of it for yourself.
Below is another map of Jerusalem. This map shows the various quarters or sections of the city. Of course during the time of Jesus the city was not divided like this, but after centuries religious groups began congregating in various places and now we have this configuration. Now of course people travel freely from one quarter to another, however the Christian quarter is mainly touristy and for pilgrims. The Muslim quarter is primarily residential and the Jewish quarter is a mixture of both. Unfortunately, even though the Armenian’s have been in Jerusalem for a very long time their section is rather small.
You’ll also notice the various gates of the city and also how compact the city is. I walked around the entire wall of the city in a little over an hour or so, perhaps 90 minutes. Each quarter or section of Jerusalem has its own sub-culture, smells, and sounds. The Jewish quarter is very quiet since it’s mostly businesses and so forth, the Muslim quarter is noisy with people bustling around with grocery bags and shopping bags, and the Christian quarter is filled with tourists buying trinkets and gifts for friends and family. Also many of the holy sites are located in the Christian quarter.