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May 17, 2010May 17, 2010  0 comments  Geography

 

The name Ben Hinnom most probably means Son of Hinnom, Hinnom being the owner of the land, but the valley's name in Hebrew, Gei Ben Hinnom, resembles the Hebrew word for Hell, Geihenom, and despite its peaceful and innocent appearance, its history makes the name well deserved.

Hinnom Valley

 

Right below Mt. Zion, outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, lay a deep valley, green and wide, that separates the old city of Jerusalem from the modern neighborhoods of the city. In fact, the valley, known as the Ben Hinnom valley or Gei Ben Hinnom in Hebrew, separates the Old City from the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the Old City walls, Mishkenot Sha'ananim (established 1860).

 


The name Ben Hinnom most probably means Son of Hinnom, Hinnom being the owner of the land, but the valley's name in Hebrew, Gei Ben Hinnom, resembles the Hebrew word for Hell, Geihenom, and despite its peaceful and innocent appearance, its history makes the name well deserved.


 It was here, in the Ben Hinnom Valley, that people in ancient times used to sacrifice their first born children to the foreign gods, the Molech and the Baal. The Israelites that a few hundred years back had adopted the Mosaic faith upon receiving the Torah, emulated their gentile neighbors and adopted this custom as well.


It is told of King Ahaz of the Kingdom of Judea in relation to the Ben Hinnom Valley: "Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign... and he did not that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, like David his father; but he...made also molten images for the Baal. Moreover he offered in the valley of Ben Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out before the children of Israel"( II chronicles, 28:1-3).hinnom valley

 


King Ahaz was not the only Israelite to follow this custom. This custom was quite prevalent on those days. Actually, it was so common, that the prophet Jeremiah preached the Israelites and warned them against it: "(they) have filled this place with the blood of innocents and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spoke it, neither came it into My mind. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called... the valley of Ben Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter; and I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies... (Jeremiah 19: 5-7);
Jeremiah's prophecy manifested itself later on in history, when Jerusalem was captured and the Holy Temple destroyed by the Babylonians and once again by the Romans a few hundred years later.


The deepest part of the valley is called the Sultan's Pool, named after Ottoman ruler (Sultan) Suleiman the Magnificent (1494-1566) who made it usable. There is a bridge leading to the pool that used to serve as a dam. Today the place is mostly dry and serves as a scene for festive summer concerts that attract multitudes of people. Visitors can also enjoy the Artists Quarters adjacent to it (Hutzot Ha-yotzer), hosting different art galleries of local artists.


 The Sultan's pool in the Ben Hinnom valley is also known as Batsheba's Pool. This name is an informal name derived from a common mistake. The Tower of David inside the walls of the Old City is towering just above the valley and the pool. The tower was built in the Ottoman Era, but people mistakenly thought that the Tower of David really was a tower from King David's time, and figured that it must have been from there that he saw Batsheba bathing in the near by pool. Hence the mistake that led to the name.


The valley itself is a part of the graveyard surrounding the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. It is a Jewish practice not to build graves and graveyards inside the city walls, therefore the area outside the walls used to be a burial area during all the different eras of history since Jerusalem became a Jewish city (over 3000 years ago). One can see there graves from different times and eras in the city's history dating back to the Second Temple era and before that as well.


All in all, when walking through the Ben Hinnom Valley, one can hardly suspect the bloody history of the place, but once one knows of that history, it's impossible not to feel an eerie feeling around the place. That same feeling crawls into one's heart even when praying in the beautiful synagogue at the Yemin Moshe neighborhood right above the valley.


That said, one can learn a lot of the different historical levels of the city of Jerusalem by taking a stroll through this beautiful valley of hell, Gei Ben-Hinnom.

 

Written by : Avital Yona, first published in Eastory.

 


March 25, 2013March 25, 2013  0 comments  Historical Sites

“The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? - He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready.” (Mark 14:14-15)

 

The Biblical Cenacle is the “large upper room furnished and prepared” that hosted the scene of the Last Supper, which was the Passover meal Jesus and his disciples ate together before Christ’s capture in Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

 

The Gospels do not mention the exact location of the Cenacle. However, the tradition which dates to the times of early Christianity, spots the place on the Mount Zion just outside of the Zion Gate. At the time of Christ, the area was supposed to be a part of the proper city of Jerusalem.

 

The place of the Upper Room became associated not only with the site of Lord’s Last Supper and the institution of Eucharist, but as well with the events of Apparition of the Risen Christ and the Descent of the Holy Spirit.

 

History of the Cenacle:

 

Cenacle Travelujah The interior of the Cenacle

 

 

The foundations of the church of the Cenacle date back at least to the 3rd century A.D. or maybe even earlier, thus many scholars associate it with the ‘little church of God’ mentioned in the writings of Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403), which he based on documents from the 2nd century.

 

Epiphanus wrote: “Hadrian… [135 A.D.] found the city entirely raised to the ground and the Temple of God destroyed and tramped upon, with the exception of some houses and a certain small church of the Christians, which had been constructed in that place, in which the disciples, after the Saviour was taken up to heaven from Mount Oliviet, betaking themselves, mounted to the Cenacle.”

 

Cenacle Travelujah A group of pilgrims visiting the site

 

 

The church was reconstructed in 4th century by St. Maximus and was first known as the ‘Upper Church of the Appostles’, and then in the 5th century it was transformed into a great basilica by the Archbishop John and named ‘Sion, Mother of all the Churches’.

 

In 415, relics of the Protomartyr St. Stephen were taken to Sion from Cafargamala and remained there until the Empress Euxodia had finished in 460 the basilica to the north of Jerusalem, especially built to receive them.

 

The ‘Mother of all the Churches’, as most of the other Christian edifices in the area, was razed to the ground by the Persians in 614, however soon after it was restored by the Patriarch Modestus.

 

The Christians took the words that St. Peter said on the day of Descent of the Holy Spirit: “He [King David] died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day” for the indication of a presence of his David’s sepulchre in the proximity of the Upper Room. Thus with time a tradition, also strengthened by the previous placement of St. Stephen’s tomb in one of the chapels, stated that the King David’s burial was around.

 

The Crusaders built there a three nave edifice and named it ‘St. Mary’s of Mount Sion’. During their rule, none of the pilgrims to the Holy Land mentioned in their writings the presence of King David’s tomb there, however under the power of Saladin, who captured Jerusalem in 1187, its legend revived. The Franciscan friars, who took over the possession of the Cenacle in 1336, kept the tradition as well.

 

Cenacle Travelujah Islamic decorations

 

 

In the 14th century, the complex was designated as having two floors, with each shared on two sections. One of the rooms on the lower floor, which with time was taken by Muslims, contained the tombs of David and Solomon. On the upper floor was the place of the Last Supper as well as the Chapel of the Holy Ghost, which was actually restored only in the middle of the 15th century.

 

In 1429, Jews bought the Chapel of David, which was not immediately transformed into a synagogue, but yet stayed in the Muslim possession. The chapel was however returned to the Franciscans in the very next year.

 

Cenacle Travelujah A Jewish woman praying next to the shrine of King David’s tomb

 

 

In couple of the following years, the monastery was destroyed and the friars received a very had time. Later, some of the edifice’s chapels were being passed back and forth from the hands of the Franciscans to the Muslims, who kept the tradition about Prophet David’s tomb being placed there. In 1928, also the Upper Room was turned into a mosque and a mihrab was erected there.

 

Since 1948 the Cenacle room is open to the visitors. However, the Franciscans are permitted to have there a mass only twice a year: on the day of Pentecost and on the Holy Thursday. Christian pilgrim groups usually have there a short silent prayer when visiting.

 

The former Chapel of David is now a Jewish shrine of the King David’s Tomb. A statue of the king decorates the entrance. The room is divided into two sections for prayer: one for men on the right and one for women on the left.

 

If you go:

 

Cenacle Travelujah The sign pointing the direction to ‘Coenaculum’

 

 

The Upper Room is located just outside of the Sion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.

 

The shrine of King David’s Tomb is located on the lower floor of the same building.

 

Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Tel.:  02 671-3597

Holy Thursday in the Cenacle:

 

On the Holy Thursday, the 28th of March 2013, there will be celebrated a Pilgrimage to the Cenactle and to the churches of St. James and St. Mark. (Departure from St. Saviour’s Church at 3:10 pm). For the detailed schedule of Catholic celebrations in the Holy Week and Easter 2013 check: here.

 

Did you know?

 

Did you know that another tradition locates the Upper Room of the Last Supper in the Syriac Orthodox church of St. Mark? The monastery is located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Old City in the Armenian Quarter on the junction of Ararat and St. Mark streets.

 

Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. ; Sundays 11:00 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Tel.:  02 628-3304 or 052 509-0478

 

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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

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June 7, 2013June 7, 2013  0 comments  Religious ceremonies

 

When the day of Pentecost came, all the believers were gathered together in one place. […] Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire which spread out and touched each person there. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit […]” (Acts 2:1-4)

 

According to Jewish tradition, feast of Pentecost (Shavout) commemorates the day in which Moses received the Law of the Lord God on the Mount Sinai. Pentecost is celebrated 50 days after Passover.

 

2 millennia years ago, on a day of Pentecost celebration, all the believers in Christ gathered together in one place in Jerusalem. At once, they heard some strange noise which came from the sky and was similar to blowing of a strong wind. Then all of the sudden, the Holy Spirit in a shape of fire tongues touched disciple’s heads and filled them. That enabled the believers to speak in many different languages.

 

Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732 Pentecost by Jean Restout, 1732

 

It was the time in which those words of Christ has been fulfilled: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift I told you about, the gift my Father promised. John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) The beginning for the Church was marked by that first baptism of the Spirit.

 

After that, many people, and among them religious Jews who came to Jerusalem from all over the world, heard the disciples speaking in their languages. Most of the gathered ones were amazed by the miracle, but there were also some who disbelieved. So apostle Peter, explained to them that the things they have just seen were foretold by prophet Joel: I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message. […] (Joel 2:28-32)

 

On that day, also many of the gathered people believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ the Messiah and joined the Church.

 

Where did it happen?

 

Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room

 

The tradition states that the Descent of the Holy Spirit took place in the Cenacle or the Upper Room, which was the same spot where Jesus and his apostles held the Last Supper.

   

The church of the Cenacle is located on the Mount Zion, today just outside of the Zion Gate, but in the times of Christ, this area was included in the city walls.

 

This spot is believed to be the place where the very first congregations of early Christians took place. The foundations of the chapel might date even earlier than to the 3rd century AD. Thus many scholars refer to it as to the ‘little church of God’, which Epiphanus of Salamis (310 - 403) described in his writings based on scripts from the 2nd century. Epiphanus in his documents mentioned that when Hadrian in 135 established Aelia Capitolina, the part of Jerusalem where the Cenacle stood was not much destructed.

 

To learn more about the Cenacle read:

 

 

 

 Christian Feast of Pentecost

 

Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room

 

Christians celebrate Pentecost (the fiftieth) 50 days, or more specifically 7 weeks, after the Easter Sunday. It is a movable feast as the Easter is. This year the Western Churches will celebrate it on the 19th of May 2013 and Eastern Churches will celebrate it on the 23rd of June 2013. The difference in the date is caused by using of different liturgical calendars.

 

Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem

 

Join the Holy Land’s Christians in Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem on Sunday the 19th of May 2013. There will be a Solemn Mass celebrated by the Patriarch, H.B. Msgr. Fuad Twal in the Church of the Dormition Abbey at 10 am. And in the evening, at 4 pm, the believers will gather in the Cenacle for Vespers presided by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land.

 

If you go:

 

Pentecost; Cenacle the Upper Room

 

The Upper Room is located just outside of the Zion Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City. After exiting through the gate, you will see a gray door of a Franciscan Convet and on its side there will be a sign ‘Coenaculum’ directing you to the right. When turning, in front of your eyes will show up the magnificent Dormition Abbey church. Follow along church’s wall to the left until you will see a statue of King David. In front of the statue are the door you shall enter and take stairs up.

  

Opening Hours: Summer (April – September) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Winter (October – March) 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Tel.:  02 671-3597

Visit as well:

 

 

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Beata Andonia works for the Bethlehem tourist bureau and blogs regularly about Bethlehem for Travelujah-Holy Land Tours. She is originally from Poland and moved to Bethlehem in 2010.

 

 

 


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