Our last stop on Monday afternoon was the Western Wall, also known as the Wailing Wall. It is located in the Old City of Jerusalem at the foot of the western side of the Temple Mount. We placed slips of paper with our prayer requests in the seams between the stones in the wall.
On Monday afternoon we traveled to the Jerusalem Archeological Park which includes the Temple Mount. We spent time learning about the Gate of the Poor and the Teaching Steps where Jesus would have likely entered the Temple.
These stones are from the Temple (specifically the Second Temple, rebuilt by Herod the Great) that Jesus visited when he came to Jerusalem. These huge stones were cast down from the Temple Mount when the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD.
Herod’s builders used some of the natural bedrock in the construction of the Teaching Steps leading up to the Temple Mount. Jesus would have walked on this step as he entered the Temple through the Gate of the Poor. We all took turns standing on this step.
Another stop on Monday was the Church of St. Anne which is a Crusader church built on the traditional site of Mary’s birthplace, which is located in a cave below the basilica. The church is also known for remarkable acoustics.
Next to the church is the excavation area of the Pools of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a man (John 5:2-9).
Sunday was a busy day as we left Jericho and drove further into the wilderness of Judea to the shores of the Dead Sea. There we explored the ruins of Qumran, the Essene monastery where the Dead Sea Scrolls were collected and written.
The Essenes hid their scrolls in the nearby caves, anticipating an attack by Roman forces during the First Jewish Roman War.