A run down of Thursday:
Went up to the Temple Mount!! I think I mentioned this before, but this holy site has been inhabited by a number of the different religions over the years. It is currently owned by the Muslims and the temple on it is called Al-Haram Ash Sharif. The other mosque on this site is Al Aqsa Mosque. As non-Muslims, we were not able to enter these holy sites. And side note, this site is owned by Muslims but controlled by the Israeli govt. Very interesting and complex land...
Back to the main temple, the decorations on the outside are just beautiful- very ornate and colorful.
We saw from the inside the golden gates- these are the supposed gates that the Messiah will walk through when the Messiah comes (according to Jews).
We also talked about the context of Jesus 'cleansing the temple.' This would have been where it happened.
Next site: the Pools of Bethesda. This would have been where Jesus healed a man that has been sick for 38 years. Good stuff. The ruins were phenomenally well preserved. The rainwater of Jerusalem would have run right into these baths. We also checked out the crusader church St. Anne's which is right beside the pools.
After that, we had lunch in a French monastery named Ecce Homo. Good stuff.
Then, onto the Wailing Wall. I placed my prayers in the wall. This place is simply powerful, and I still do not know how to explain or articulate why. Some spots are holy and sacred, and the wailing wall sticks out to me as one of those.
After that, we moved into the southern excavations. They have proved in the last 20 years that this part of the wall is also Herod's Wall just as the Wailing Wall portion is. The blocks were huge, and I can really imagine being shocked as a disciple when Jesus said not one stone will be left upon another.
Also, on a wedding note, a bride and a groom with their two flower girls were getting their pictures taken on the steps that would have led into Herod's temple. Pretty sweet. How amazing would those wedding pictures be!?!
After that, we went on an extensive search for stoles. It looks like the best price is 20 dollars, and if we are getting a bunch, we're hoping to haggle 'em down- all in good fun, and of course the search for the cheapest goods in the Old City...
After din, we had a lecture from a man that worked for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Well, to be sure, he certainly was not balanced at all, as the Israeli professor was that came the other night. However, it was great to hear another side of the story. But, alas, he went on forever and at 920 the leader FINALLY called it and said, thanks for coming, if you wanna stay and ask more questions, please feel free. So, we booked it. After a full day of touring, come 8/9, you're really beat.