|About Us||Holy Land Sites||Holy Land Tours||Photos||Christian||Community||Travel Tips||Easter 2013|
Tags - sukkoth
‘Lets walk the Mikvah in the city of the King' - City of David and Hezekiah's tunnel
Walking in tunnels are exhilarating story reads and with a flashlight in hand, it feels like a Discovery or National Geographic. City of David and the Hezekiah's tunnel became a physical as well as a non-physical reality, for reasons, I learnt eventually.
Then again, the reason had a season. And this was during my fourth visit to Israel. Past three visits, I have walked past the City of David admiring its entrance and even taking photographs with the golden harp, but never ventured within. This time with the group I was with had Ir David in the itinerary. Being the last day of the Sukkoth holiday and there was also a planned prophetic Wedding Feast to attend on return to the hotel.
King David has been one of my heroes and his war strategies have never ceased to amaze me, beginning with knocking down Goliath. And now, here we were in the King's city considered to have been the original Jerusalem. According to our guide the story is as old as 3,000 years ago, when King David left the city of Hebron for a small hilltop city known as Jerusalem, establishing it as the unified capital of the tribes of Israel.
Our visit began at the observation point overlooking Jerusalem. As I stood there overlooking the excavated site, I felt transported in the timeline, way back to the days of Abraham when the foundations of the city were first laid to present days excavations that made me relive King David's conquest of the Jebusite city. The tour-walk moved down the hillside stone stairs heading underground to some of the newer archeological excavations.
As we walked down the steps to an area marked ‘G' - The Royal Acropolis Water System (Warren's Shaft), we were reminded of Charles Warren's discovery of the ancient underground water tunnel outside the walls of the old city from the Western Wall. Apparently, this was recognized to be similar to the underground water tunnel or ‘gutter' as described in 2nd book of Samuel 5. The stepped wall on this hill in the area is believed to be the retaining wall that many archeologists believe to be the ‘Citadel of Zion' mentioned as King David's conquest of the city (2 Samuel 5:9)
The walking down tour ended at the Gihon Spring. This was the major water source of Jerusalem for over 1,000 years and where, according to the Bible, King David's son, Solomon was anointed king.
Somewhere in between the walk down Pat tugged me impatiently, ‘I have to go to the mikvah. Please come?' I looked at her and shook my head. How did she know that I too was curious about the ‘bath'? I had seen the baths in nearly every excavation site I visited, but a real one? How would one experience that? Still baffled, she tugged me along to the ticket counter for the Hezekiah's tunnel walk. That was the mikvah she wanted to walk and I complied, immediately. As with every ‘planned' visit, we were the last ones, after which the ticket counter shut!
There is an interesting fact about this tunnel, mentioned in the 2nd Book of Chronicles 32:30 of how the city was defended from the Assyrian army. King Hezekiah protected the water system by diverting its flow deeper into the city with a tunnel system. This tunnel was built by digging a 1,750 foot tunnel into the mountain. An ancient stone describes this incredible operation.
This stone reminded me of David Van Koevering's key to Quantum Leap ‘All matter has memory - your words are recorded', in which he narrates Joshua 24:27, ‘And Joshua said unto all the people, ‘Behold this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words often LORD which He spake unto us. It shall therefore be a witness unto you, lest you deny your God.'' And then there was Habakuk (2:11) and Yeshua (Luke 19:40) who said the same thing of stones witnessing. So, were the stones listening at the time? Every word, action and deed done in flesh has been recorded, according to the quantum theory.
Trekking this tunnel has today become a highlight for visitors and for Pat, Shalin, Gabriele and me a sense of duty - the Mikvah. How timely was this? After this we had the Wedding Feast of the Lamb to attend.... I enjoy half-planned last minute head-on programs! ADONAI perfectly plans HIS surprises...
The entrance was more like a cave that was well lit and gave the place a golden glow. We bought our little key-chain torches. I was a little disappointed, thought they would be flashlights, like the days of yore. But the excitement didn't wane. We arrived at to our destination - the 2,700 year old water tunnel one of the wonders of early engineering.
The water was cool and rose knee-high as we walked in, barefoot. The air within was cool; it was very dark; the space between shoulders narrowed as we walked forward, bending in some places. How so natural!.. And so well preserved! There was something about these walls -white lime portion of the wall - that seemed to reflect a golden color and it seemed to say something. It was instant - I allowed Quantum physics to let me hear and the Holy Spirit to pave the way of my thoughts. I allowed my left hand to run through the wall and impulsively pressed my ears, as if to hear something.
The walk was a silent one, with only sound of our feet splashing the water, everyone ‘soaked' in their own thoughts. I wonder if anyone thought as loud as I did... In time, we reached the end that opened into the Pool of Shiloach. Fragments of pillars are seen in the pool, which are remains of the Shiloach Church that was built here. We waited for a while watching children play in this pool and decided to do the same, wondering when would this happen again.
As we were leaving, we were self-introduced to a man who took us around to an ongoing excavation from here that showed us a huge wall painting - an artist's impression of the temple steps; shared Baron Edmond de Rothschild leading philanthropic role in acquiring property in the Land of Israel for rebuilding the Jewish Yishuv (Community); and took us to a nearby area where excavation of steps is yet underway, which he said, may probably have been the way that the Holy Priest would have taken during Sukkoth from the Pool to the Holy Temple for the water libation.
We were curious. Who was this man? He says that he was part of the excavation team.. and he too, wasn't sure why he was there. Looks like he owned a shop there, but there was no forceful sales made.
This was more than I had ever imagined or expected from being obedient to my call from my Abba for this Sukkot trip! History, experience and learning for real are a package deal that only Israel could give me till date in my life! Today when I go through challenges and feel blocked in a dark tunnel, I know now that there is a healing Pool of Shiloach at the other end.
‘Let's walk the Old City Ramparts..
Walk about Zion, go round about her,
number her towers, consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels;that you may tell the next generation that this is God,
our God for ever and ever.
He will be our guide for ever.(Psalm 48:12-14)
.. and see where King David's soldiers stood and what they saw from their vantage points', is what we - Pat, Gabriele, Shalin and I - wanted to do following the ‘water-walking' experience at the Hezekiah's tunnel, all immersed, even in our own memories.
We walked up and down the road from the City of David to the Jaffa Gates and got our tickets. It was a tiny Entrance fee. There seemed to be just a handful of visitors at the time with our little group of four. Adventurous and prepared, were we, all with walking shoes and some water - there was this guide tip - Be prepared for a lot of stone-stairs in varying levels.
One part of the Ramparts Walk begins just outside Jaffa Gate. The entrance is a bit hard to find. Before going through the gate into the Old City, head to the enclosure to the right of Jaffa Gate, as you face the Old City. You'll be walking between two stone walls on a stone path. Follow the signs or ask someone - the entrance is a bit of way down, around a corner to the left. This section takes you from Jaffa Gate to Zion Gate and lets you off near Dung Gate, not far from the Western Wall Plaza and the Jewish Quarter. It offers a stunning view of Old City rooftops, Sultan's Pool, Yemin Moshe, Mt. Zion and the Mt. of Olives. You can also access the ramparts from Damascus Gate follow them to Lion's Gate.
Near the Entrance, there is a stone sit-out. While sitting there, waiting for Shalin to finish her sandwich, I looked around and a thought crossed my mind ‘we are about to walk another piece of Bible history!' What a fun way to get the overview of Jerusalem in the 21st Century, by climbing the olden ramparts (the watch-points, I say) of the Old City and circle the city above. There were moments I wondered what must have passed by the minds of the soldiers standing guard in the varying time periods. Walking on top of the Old City is exhilarating and gives you wonderful view over the new city of Jerusalem through the arrow slits on the turret walls and/or over them.
There are places that I had never seen in my earlier visits, like the cloistered Armenian compound, an old hospital... from each vantage point; we could see the day-to-day Old city life and the exuberance of Sukkoth. The hubbub of city life in this holiday season was worth capturing on film and just drinking in the sight from where each of us stood - bustling markets, sheets hanging on washing lines, a vendor frying falafels, festive dancing on temporary platforms....
The walls of Jerusalem that we see today were built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century when he restored the ancient city walls that served as military fortifications. During 1948-1967, the Jordanian snipers used the ramparts as a vantage point. Multiple bullet holes stand witness to this shooting position on old buildings facing the Old City. Today, the ramparts serve a more peaceful purpose as a choice destination for school field trips, tourists and Jerusalem enthusiasts, I understand.
The walk is about 4 kilometres. You can't circumnavigate the entire Old City in one shot, since access to the ramparts of the Temple Mount is closed off, and the road bisects the walls at Jaffa Gate. We had to descend at the Lion's or Dung Gate and resumed from the Damascus Gate.
It is not advised to walk alone or after dark. Should you wish to experience the Rampart Walk, go for it! And again, the tip to heed: the walk requires a lot of stair climbing and descending. Make sure you're wearing comfortable walking shoes, and that you have enough water with you - once you're on the ramparts, there's no getting off until the end and no refreshment kiosk or bathroom along the way. While this is fun for adults and older kids, avoid taking little children, those fearful of heights and people who have trouble walking.
I have visited and traveled the Holy Land, no better description, for pilgrimage, a tour and even for a Bible feast and have yet not had enough. It is so true when people say, 'The Bible comes alive' - every stone talks here!