Day Thirty-One, March 31st, 2012
Day 31 - WOW... I have had such a full and rewarding trip and I have been very excited to share these experiences and what I saw with you my family and friends.
This morning I started at the south side of the Temple Mount at the ruins where at one time three entrances allowed people onto the Temple Mount. You can see that they have since been closed up. excavations revealed them....
The Golden Gate / Eastern Gate was closed up and muslim graves put in front to keep the Messiah from entering... Not going to work...
Looking south towards what was the City of David you can see the southeast corner of the Temple Mount. Scripture refers to this as the "Pinnacle of the Temple" where satan told Jesus to jump off and show the world that He is the Son of God.
Driving to Bethlehem (seen on the upper right) you can see how a circular protection wall surrounds a tunnel that goes from Israel under Palestine and comes out to another part of Israel.
I visited an olive wood carver in Bethlehem that created works that are sold in many store fronts throughout Bethlehem.
The Nativity Church in Bethlehem built over the grotto where Jesus was born
Entrance to the Church of the Nativity is via the small Entry of Humility. The door was reduced to its present small size (which requires adults to stoop upon entering) in the Ottoman period to prevent horses and carts being driven through for the purposes of looting
Once through the small door another ancient door opens to the oldest church in the world.
On the ceilings hang Chandeliers and on the walls are fragments of mosaic. This building is the oldest standing church in the Holy Land. Originally built by Constantine's mother in the 4th century, Emperor Justinian rebuilt the current structure in the 530s. It was apparently spared destruction from the Persians in 614 A.D. because the invaders saw the depictions of the Magi on the walls. Local Muslim-Christian friendship is believed to be why the church was not destroyed during al-Hakim's rule in 1009.
The trapdoors in the floor reveal 4th-century floor mosaics from the Constantinian church.
The elaborate Greek Orthodox iconostasis - Fancy word that means... a wall of icons and religious paintings, separating the nave from the sanctuary in a church. Iconostasis also refers to a portable icon stand that can be placed anywhere within a church
The exit of the Grotto - The place of Jesus' birth. The entrance had so many people waiting to get in I didn't bother going there... probably should have. I will have to go back early in the morning and down inside. I have a shot from a previous trip of the cave the church was build over and the spot that is thought to be the birth place.
This octagonal baptismal font in the south aisle dates from the 6th-century church of Justinian; it originally stood near the high altar. The inscription reads, "For remembrance, rest and remission of sins of those whose names the Lord knows." Archaeologists have discovered an octagonal bed of exactly the same dimensions over a cistern near the altar which provided the required water. The font was moved in the Crusader renovation
The lid would open up and the person would be submerged
Sharing the wall on the right with the Nativity Church is this church that is well known for the Christmas Eve service from Bethlehem. The Church of St. Catherine is a Catholic church and Franciscan monastery connected to the mostly Orthodox Church of the Nativity.
Entrance from the Church of the Nativity to the Armenian monastery that is on the south side of the church.
Ya... I like doors
On the left as you exit the Church of the Nativity you see a view of the bell towers, which are part of an Armenian monastery and not the Church of the Nativity. In the distance you see the Manger Square, Bethlehem
Manger Square Bethlehem
The Shepherds' Field is said the be the place where the shepherds watched their flocks by night and the angels appeared to them with the announcement of the birth of Jesus.
Just down the road this is another location that claims the location of the angelic visitation to the shepherds
Last picture of my 31 day trip. This decapitated hill top is called Herodion
There was another side to Herod. His visionary building programs, his ingenious development of trade with the rest of the world, and his advancement of the interests of his nation are legendary. Many of his building projects were designed to strengthen the loyalty of his subjects, a goal he never achieved. Most seem to have been built to strengthen his relationship with Rome and to establish himself as the greatest king the Jews had ever had. Herod built on a magnificent and grandiose scale. His building projects included:
The Herodion: This mountain fortress overlooked the town of Bethlehem. Standing on a high hill, the upper fortress was round and more than 200 feet in diameter. Originally, it was seven stories high, with an eastern tower that stood more than 40 feet higher. Packed dirt covered the first four stories, giving the upper fortress a cone shape. Inside were a peristyle garden, reception hall, Roman baths, and countless apartments. The lower palace included an enormous pool, a colonnaded garden, a 600-foot-long terrace, and a building more than 400 feet long. The Herodion was the third-largest palace in the ancient world....
Keywords: Armenian Monastery, Baptismal, Bethlehem, Birth, Church of St. Catherine, City of David, Eastern, Excavations, Gate, Golden Gate, Herodion, Icon, Iconostasis, Jesus, Manger Square, Nativity Church, Olive wood, Palestine, Pinnacle of the Temple, Shepherd's Field, Temple Mount, Temple Mount, carving, grotto, monastery, mosaics, oldest church, wall
Your pictures are fantastic. It is obvious where your talents lie. Great job.
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