Our third ‘packed’ day of touring began with visiting Abu Ghosh (one of the traditional sites for Emmaus), the Israel Museum, followed by a stop for lunch. We then drove to the Western Wall, Davidson Center, Southern Wall, City of David, Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and finally returned to the hotel for dinner.
Abu Ghosh is one of the traditional sites for Emmaus. Crusaders built a church here in 1140 and called the place “Castellum Emmaus.” It was not identified with Luke’s Emmaus until the 12th century. See Luke 24:13-32 for “the walk to Emmaus.”
"Emmaus" – Bible references
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
The Israel Museum in Jerusalem was founded in 1965 as Israel’s national museum. It is situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, near the Bible Lands Museum, The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, Knesset, the Israeli Supreme Court, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
A uniquely-designed building on the grounds of the museum, the Shrine of the Book, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and artifacts discovered at Masada. The museum’s holdings include 500,000 objects with some 7,000 objects and works currently.
Here, we viewed a 50:1 scale model of Jerusalem as it was at the time of the Second Temple. The model covers nearly one acre and illustrates one of the most formative periods in the history of the Jewish people. It is a reconstruction of Jerusalem in the year 66 C.E.
Shrine of the Book
The Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered 1947–56 in 11 caves in and around the Wadi Qumran. The shrine is built as a white dome, covering a structure placed two-thirds below the ground. The interior of the shrine was designed to depict the environment in which the scrolls were found. There is also a permanent display on life in the Qumran, where the scrolls were written. The entire structure was designed to resemble a pot in which the scrolls were found.
There is a much-publicized practice of placing slips of paper containing written prayers into the crevices of the Wall. In Judaism, the Western Wall is venerated as the sole remnant of the Holy Temple. It has become a place of pilgrimage for the Jews. Jewish tradition teaches that the Western Wall was built by King Solomon and that the wall we see today is built upon his foundations, which date from the time of the First Temple.
Southern Temple Mount
Southern Steps – The western flight of stairs leading to the main entrances of the Temple Mount was 200 feet wide. Excavators uncovered the easternmost part of this staircase with its alternating long and short steps. Some suggest that the fifteen long steps may have been one of the locations where pilgrims sang the fifteen Psalms of Ascent (120-34) as they went up to worship.
Double Gate – The Double Gates and Triple Gates provided access to the Temple Mount through subterranean passageways. Half of the lintel stone and relieving arch of this Herodian gateway is visible above the later protruding arch. Above and to the right is a stone with an inscription mentioning Hadrian’s son (138 C.E.). Its position upside down clearly indicates that it is in secondary use.
City of David
The City of David is the oldest settled neighborhood of Jerusalem and a major archaeological site due to recognition as biblical Jerusalem. It is a narrow ridge running south from the Temple Mount. It was a walled city in the Bronze Age and, according to tradition, it is the place where King David built his palace and established his capital. The City of David was naturally defended by the Tyropoeon Valley on its west, the Hinnom valley to the south, and the Kidron Valley on the east; although over time the once-steep valley to the west has been largely filled in.
Hezekiah’s Tunnel, or the Siloam Tunnel, is a tunnel that was dug underneath the City of David in Jerusalem before 701 B.C.E. during the reign of Hezekiah. The tunnel is mentioned in II Kings 20:20 in the Bible. The Bible also tells us that King Hezekiah prepared Jerusalem for an impending siege by the Assyrians, by blocking the source of the waters of the upper Gihon, and leading them straight down on the west to the City of David (II Chronicles 32:30). The tunnel has been securely dated, both by the written inscription found on its wall (Siloam Inscription) and by dating organic matter contained in the original plastering. It is one of the few intact, 8th-century B.C.E. structures in the world that the public can not only visit, but enter and walk through.
The tunnel, leading from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam, was designed as an aqueduct to provide Jerusalem with water during an impending siege by the Assyrians, led by Sennacherib.
According to the Siloam inscription, the tunnel was excavated by two teams, one starting at each end of the tunnel and then meeting in the middle. They relied on sounds, from above, generated by hammering on the solid karst The inscription is partly unreadable at present, and may originally have conveyed more information than this. It is clear from the tunnel itself that several directional errors were made during its construction.
The ancient city of Jerusalem, being on a mountain, is naturally defensible from almost all sides, but suffers from the drawback that its major source of fresh water, the Gihon Spring, is on the side of the cliff overlooking the Kidron Valley. This presents a major military weakness as the city walls, if high enough to be defensible, must necessarily leave the Gihon Spring outside, thus leaving the city without a fresh water supply in case of siege.
The Bible says that King Hezekiah (c. 8th-century B.C.E.), fearful that the Assyrians would lay siege to the city, blocked the spring’s water outside the city and diverted it through a channel into the then Pool of Siloam.
Pool of Siloam
Pool of Siloam is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David, the original site of Jerusalem, located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, carried there by two aqueducts.
The Pool of Siloam is mentioned several times in the Bible. Isaiah 8:6 mentions the pool’s waters, while Isaiah 22:9 references the construction of Hezekiah’s tunnel. For Christians, the pool has additional significance as it is mentioned in the Gospel of John as the location to which Jesus sent a man who had been blind from birth, as part of the act of healing him.
The Pool today
This is the pool that you’ll see today, whether you walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel and emerge here or walk above through the City of David. There are clear remains around this pool from the Byzantine church built by Empress Eudocia. This is the pool that has long been visited as the pool of Jesus’ miracle.