Thursday: Spent the day at the Israel Museum. I love museums and Israel has one of the best. Saw the Shrine of the Book (where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed). Notice how they keep the dome cool. Then spent a long time going through the archaeological rooms which are full of the cool things archaeologists have dug up from around the country. I wanted to take some pictures, but as soon as the flash went off the first time, a guard was in my face, “NO pictures!” she said. I was very disappointed because some of the things in the museum are amazing, like the oldest and largest alter every found. The one I did take is of the end of the coffin of King Uzziah. The inscription says, “The bones of King Uzziah were moved here.” You may remember how the Book of Isaiah opens, “The year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord…” Uzziah was a leper. Here are a couple of pictures of a scale model of the city of Jerusalem during Jesus’ day  .
Sunday: Danny called me in the morning and asked if I wanted to accompany him to Masada and, along the way, discuss some of the itineraries we have been working on. I met him downtown after purchasing an egg croissant at my favorite “bacon and egg” place: Coffee Time Bagel (no bacon).
Danny and I headed east down the Jericho Road (remember the “Good Samaritan” who was traveling this very road in Jesus’ parable). From Jerusalem (about 2,000 ft. elevation) you go down, down, down to the lowest point on the planet at Jericho. Here the road “t’s” at the Jordan River and you have to turn either north or south. We turned south toward that amazing place, Masada, built by Herod as a fortress in the event his subjects (the Jews) ever revolted against his evil rule.
Along the way, I took some pictures: Bedouin home, Dead Sea, hill of Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found), Masada Guest House (and, for those of you coming here next year–its new pool). By the way, for those of you who know that Moses didn’t get into the Promised Land, here is a somewhat hazy picture, looking back across the border into Moab (now Jordan) at the mountain from which Moses was allowed to look into the land he never entered.
Returned to Jerusalem and before Danny dropped me off, I asked him to take me to the place where a group of young archaeologists are sifting through dirt from the Temple Mount. Our group had gone there last year and I wanted to help these archaeologists a few times while I was in Jerusalem.
The archaeologists have set up a tarped area right in the middle of the Arab part of Jerusalem. I was welcomed by these dedicated people and told to come any time I wanted. “We never have enough help,” they told me. “But,” they warned, “even though it is only a couple of miles walk down from the Old City, don’t walk through the Arab section of town. Take the bus to the top of Mount Scopus where the Hebrew University sits, and then you can walk down an embankment directly to where our tent is set up.”
They pointed up to the top of Mount Scopus and tried to orient me from where we stood in the valley below so I would know how to get to them from the top of the mountain. I wasn’t prepared for what would happen today when I tried to find them.
“Why are these archaeologists sifting through material from the Temple Mount?” you may ask. (Ask, anyway, even if you don’t care! I want to tell you). Remember that the Dome of the Rock (which is not a Mosque) and the Al Aqsa Mosque (which is) are both located on the Temple Mount. In reality, even though the place is called the “Temple Mount”, it is controlled by the Palestinians. Because they can, the Palestinians have decided to build the world’s largest mosque UNDER the Temple Mount and have, for the past few years, been digging (excavating) UNDER the Mount to build their mosque. Here is a blurry picture of their work. The picture was taken inside the walls of the Temple Mount and shows the Palestinians using heavy equipment. Anyway, they have been taking all the dirt they have excavated and have thrown it into the Arab landfill in the Arab section of Jerusalem. That is why the archaeologists have located their tent in the Arab section, next to the landfill.
Of course, this is probably the most precious archeological material that exists in all of Israel. You would think the government wouldn’t allow it! You would think they would draw a line in the sand about people destroying the Temple Mount. I will try to explain why they haven’t in something I am writing and saving to share next week.
Monday: So, this morning, I took the bus to the top of Mount Scopus and tried to find the hillside I was supposed to walk down into the Arab area and the archaeological work where I was yesterday. I walked around this huge university for over 2 hours and almost gave up before I found out where I was supposed to be. I walked down the hill to the site and was welcomed and given my duties–sift through Temple Mount dirt looking for anything.
I wish I had taken pictures of some of what I found. Maybe the next time. I found a hank of hair, a piece of bone, and, uh…wait a minute. That’s not right. Actually I found some pretty cool stuff, some of it from the First Temple Period, or around 1,000BC.
Tomorrow I’m supposed to spend the day with the English speaking homeschoolers of Israel. Then I travel to Ma’ale Levona to spend the rest of the week with Danny and meet again with Yossi.