Wednesday was the last day of our tour of Israel. As usual, we were up early and ready to see many new sites. Our first visit was to the traditional Upper Room, where Jesus held the Last Supper with his disciples. This may also have been the room where the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, and possible where the first Christian church was located. Of course, this particular building was built much later, probably by the Crusaders in 1000 AD, then later used by the Muslims as a mosque. It is now in the hands of the Jewish people.
The Upper Room
Below the Upper Room is the Jewish holy site of King David’s Tomb. We were not allowed to see the actual tomb, as there were Jewish women there holding a prayer service (on the women’s side). Later archaeological excavations have shown that David was buried in another place, but this has remained a very special place for the Jews.
King David’s Tomb Memorial
We then walked to the Gallicantu (“cock’s crow”) also known as the Church of St. Peter. Here is the traditional site for Caiphas’ palace, where Jesus was tried before the Sanhedran and Peter denied him three times. This particular church is owned by the Assumptionist Fathers, a French Catholic order established in the 1800s.
Church of St. Peter
Our first stop for this day was outside Bethlehem at a place called the “Shepherds Fields.” If you want a real name, we visited the Franciscan Monastery, where they feature a small cave that was probably used to house sheep at night. Jesus may have been born in a cave like this. All around this area are fields, and we even saw some sheep in the valley below.
We then climbed up to the Herodium, a man-made mountain (by Herod the Great) with a palace on the top close to Jerusalem. In thinking about the places that Jesus was taken during His trial, He would have had to travel quite a bit during that night just to reach these places. as I may have mentioned, everything is up a mountain or down in a valley.
During the afternoon, we visited Tel Maresha, a dig site in the Lower Judean hills. We were privileged to spend some time digging in the dirt, trying to find artifacts. Tel Maresha was originally given to Caleb (Joshua 15:44) and Micah the prophet was from here. It is also the site of a Canaanite village from the Intertestamental period, so everything we found would be dated before Christ (and we did find some items). I think we all enjoyed getting “down and dirty” for a little bit.
Les Bruce at Tel Maresha