Shalom! My name is Itamar Ben David and I am a tour guide with Travelujah here in Israel. In the coming year I will take you on a journey that will connect the weekly Torah portion (The Parasha) to exciting sites in the Land of Israel and the New Testament. Our purpose is to encourage our Christian readers to explore the fascinating connection between Christianity, the Jewish tradition and the Holy Land. Every Shabbat Jews all over the world read one or two out of the fifty-four portions in order to complete the reading and study of all the Pentateuch portions by the end of the year. The final Jewish festival of the new year, Simchat Torah, celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah readings, and the beginning of the new cycle.
And so our journey begins with the first section of the first book, Genesis, and it’s many important events: the creation, the sin of Adam and Eve, their subsequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden, the generations of man and their many sins. Perhaps you are already asking yourself, where can a tour guide take us to tell us this story? Could he take us on a visit to heaven? Can he bring us together with Adam, Eve, the snake, and the angels? The truth is that yes, you can visit the earthly equivalent of heaven – the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The Temple Mount, Mount Moriah, Jerusalem… these are names for that small hill, holy to Muslims and the holiest place on earth to Jews and Christians. Most of you are familiar with the image of the Golden Dome in Jerusalem, also known as the Dome of the Rock. Within this magnificent muslim mosque, there is a stone. This is the foundation stone from which the entire world was built, the stone from which Adam and Eve were created and the place where they sinned and from which they were expelled. Adam’s disobedience to God will lead to anguish – Mankind will have to live in the shadow of death; Instead of picking delicious fruits from the trees of the garden, Adam will have to work hard to make a living and his wife will have children in great pain.
Thousands of years later Jesus Christ will atone for this sin in his body and blood. Several hundred years after Jesus’ time the Christian world will build a church where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. Although the Temple Mount and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher are two different places within a 10-minute walk of each other, theologically it is the same place – Mount Moriah – the place where Adam sinned and where he was forgiven and atoned by Jesus the Son of God who opened the way to redemption and salvation from death.
Many other traditions are associated with Mount Moriah, traditions that deal with the past and the future of the children of Israel, Jerusalem and humanity. I will be happy to tell you all about it on our trip together. In the meantime I will conclude with the verses from the Haftara, the additional portion that Jews read from the books of the Prophets after reading the weekly Bible story. Jerusalem, where we began our journey together, has a goal and purpose – to bring all mankind under the wings of God in Jerusalem to fulfill what was written:
All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble…
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.”
Itamar Ben David is a professional tour guide and educator. He is one of the most popular Travelujah guides providing valuable biblical, historical and modern day insight on the land of Israel to Jewish and Christian groups and exclusive private tours. He has guided famous media personalities such as Larry King, congressmen and other VIP clients. He and his wife live in Jerusalem.