One Does Not Simply Walk Into Jerusalem
Trip Start May 19, 2012
79Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Jerusalem University College
What I did
Tel es Sultan
So the day started off super early again, rolling out in the bus at 7:00. We made it to the Wadi Qelt in the Judean Wilderness around 8:00, and walked out far enough to get isolated as a group and discuss the geography before us
From the Wadi Quelt we continued the drive down to Jericho, using very much the same route that the traveler in the parable of the Good Samaritan would have used, passing below sea level in the process. For those of you who didn't know, Jericho is situated about 750 feet below the Mediterranean, tucked into the rift valley
Ogling accomplished, we ate lunch and began the ascent back out of the Jordan River Valley along a route which made Hillary, my seat buddy, confess her faith in Muhammad "the bus driver, for the record, but if you chose to ignore this aside then you can choose to believe what you will". We made it up eventually to Michmash, the site of some pretty intense heroics by Jonathan in 1 Samuel 14, and up further to Nevi Samwil, the traditional site of the tomb of the prophet Samuel. This is significant because it is at 2980 feet above sea level; we climbed nearly 4000 feet in a horizontal stretch of approximately 15 miles. Nevi Samwil was especially interesting to me because you could stand on the site of an old Crusader stable, modern mosque, and modern synagogue, face north, and simultaneously see across the Jordan river to the Jordanian mountains on your right and could make out the Mediterranean Sea on the left. Maybe this is just me, but when I think of Israel, the site of so many important historical and theological events, you don't think of a nation you can stand on a tall spot and see across on a clearish day.
From Nevi Samwil we bussed it down to the Mediterranean plain and stopped at the site of Tel Gezer, the remains of a city that lay at the entrance to the most viable attack route on Jerusalem from the coastal highways. One of the Pharaohs gave it to King Solomon as a wedding present when he married his daughter to him in an alliance pact; should I have such a dowry. Then it was back on the bus along the Tel Aviv highway into Jerusalem. It was interesting rolling into the city around 5:45 as Shabbat Shalom descended; all the stores we passed in the city were closed up, and traffic was pretty heavy as people returned from wherever they were to their homes in preparation for the Sabbath. After dinner, I took a quick walk into the Old City, expecting everything to be closed in this, the most traditional of areas in Jerusalem, but no such thing. Tourism stops for no Biblical commandment. It was actually somewhat sad in my opinion, the contrast between the average Jew in the modern city observing the Sabbath and the epicenter of the Jewish faith remaining open to pander to our shekels. I suppose it makes it a little better that most of the shop owners are Muslim, so they don't really have the obligation, but Friday is also supposed to be their holy day. At any rate, I got to play body guard through the Old City as night fell and capitalism rolled on.
Then it was time for game night, during which a pretty tired Nicholas chose rather to work on his class journal and observe the game of fish bowl and thus promptly dozed off. I then woke up, discovered the internet wasn't working, and decided that I thus had an excellent excuse to go to bed a little early, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For the sake of consistency, I'll lay out this blog as if I'd written it yesterday and say that Saturday is a mostly free day, with our only sure obligation being class from 9:45 to 12:30. Other than that, things are expected to revolve mostly around studying and taking advantage of the day of rest, considering A: not much is open on the Sabbath that isn't made of tourist and B: I'm scheduled to go spend a night locked in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher tonight. Yeah, you heard that right. I'm pretty pumped. Shabat Shalom.