Warfare History in Jerusalem —View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives
This huge ancient olive tree was in the Garden of Gethsemane in Kidron Valley
We were told how some of these trees have been there from antiquity and were not hundreds, but thousands of years old. Olive trees can be cut down to the ground, and appear dead but it will grow again. New shoots of life will rise again from the roots, becoming a symbol of Christ rising again. Hearing about the olive trees was a lesson in continued growth and fruitfulness in advancing age, no matter appearances, no matter circumstances or trials. Not only are the olive trees extremely long lived and natural survivors, they point us to our roots of faith in the past, when olive oil was used to anoint kings and prophets, and to our future when olive oil will be used to anoint the King of Kings when the Messiah returns. The remains of Gethsemane was a very small area. Some believe these are the original trees, but others think they are new generations as historian Josephus reported the trees were cut down by the Romans in AD70. Other research from 2012 concluded that all eight trees originated as cuttings from a single parent tree. Introspection from those details made me wonder will the branches of our family be identifiable in time to come? What time and prayer do I need to invest, surrender, and wait for so those roots will grow and rise again?
A few of us did not go with the group on the walk that led to Gethsemane as it involved a lot of stairs but the bus was going to meet us there. A half dozen of us took the stair-free shortcut but there was no crosswalk to get to the church and garden. I suggested that I’d experienced respect for the elderly and decided to test it out. I put one foot in the street and waved my hand. The cars came to a halt and the driver and passenger waved as the group followed ‘grandma’ across the street!
We’d also seen the old border fence area where the last battle in 1967 (the Six Day War), the Israeli paratroopers united the Old City with Jerusalem, and walked through the famous tunnels where Christians fled persecution and where soldiers had carved some treacherous, rocky, muddy underground passages. I took the least challenging tunnel but it was still interesting in light of a dvd documentary In Our Hands that I’d seen shortly before this trip. Highly recommend it. Plaques on the wall of the overlook commemorated some who gave their lives for Israel’s freedom.
I don’t know why I was surprised to learn the Armenians were brought in to repair these temple designs.
My name means many sorrows – so it was special to actually walk the street where Jesus walked to the cross called Via Dolorosa
and near that was the Arab Market –
the Shuk, with hundreds of stores yet in between the hustle and bustle, sights like the men playing backgammon
Other sites included several beautiful gates, the Holy Sepulcher – the largest Church in Jerusalem,The Jewish Quarter, the renovated Cardo and the Davidson Center Museum where we saw some of the ancient scrolls.The remains of Caiaphas’ House, where Jesus was kept. Then Mt Zion and the Garden Tomb.
The last photo is of a picture from years ago that shows more clearly the skull directly above and behind the camel in the pictures. After decades of decay that area is below and to the right – you can barely see parts of a skull. Whether it was here – or near – as you often hear in Israel – it was an important place to remember what Christ suffered for us, and we were all provided a precious time of communion in the gardens outside of the tomb with songs and prayer offered by one of the pastors in our group.