Today our focus was the last week of Christ's life. We started by driving around to the east side of the Mt. of Olives where we stopped and overlooked the original road from Jericho to Jerusalem. The road dead ends into the mountain and then a climb is necessary to enter the city. Jesus was met here by Mary and Martha who lived close by in Bethany. We drove through Bethany to the Mt. of Olives and its beautiful view of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Then we walked down a very steep road, the same path of the ancient Roman road, to the Garden of Gethsemene where Jesus prayed. We could see the Golden Gate through which Jesus entered Jerusalem, from the garden of olives trees. At this time of the year the almond trees are also in bloom. At the nearby Gethsemene grotto we viewed the remains of an ancient olive press at what may have been the place were Jesus prayed and was betrayed by Judas.
We entered Jerusalem through St. Stephen's Gate, or the Lion Gate. We stopped at St. Anne's church, which commemorates the birthplace of Mary (according to one tradition). Next to it are the pools of Bethesda, deep holes with remains from various periods going all the way back to the first century.
From there we followed the Via Dolorosa, the Way of the Cross, through the Old City to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is the traditional location of Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified, and the Tomb, where he was buried. Tom took us first to the roof area, where the Ethiopian Coptic monks live, to talk about the history of the site. Then we walked through the church, and stood in line under the bright newly renovated dome to visit the edicule that marks the traditional site of Jesus' tomb.
Finally we walked back to Mt. Zion for a visit to the traditional site of the Last Supper. Then we drove across Jerusalem to Ein Kerem for a presentation on The Last Supper at Biblical Resources. There we sampled some of the foods that would have been on the table and learned in which positions some of the disciples would have been seated.
Then we headed back to the east side of town for tea at the Albright Institute, just around the corner from our hotel. Jeff Blakely, an archaeologist from back in Madison, had just arrived to do some research. He briefed us on the history of the Albright and some of the archaeological projects going on in Israel.
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