One of the internal puzzles I have carried these 26 years of salvation is the reality of the Western wall or wailing wall and the words that Jesus spoke about not one stone of the temple standing upon another. This trip clarified this for me. It was explained that Herod the Great rebuilt the temple to a small degree, but what he really did to enhance the temple was to broaden the platform that the temple set upon. The temple was destroyed totally and the Romans even tried to destroy the massive foundation stones of the platform that Herod built. The temple mount is located upon the traditional mount where Abraham offered up Isaac and where David bought “the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite”.
A person needs to be reminded that Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuilt over 20 times. The walls we are looking at are rebuilt walls not always upon original walls. Most of the locations in and around the city are conjectures and of course the original buildings no longer exists only a rebuilt building on the supposed site. I am saying all of this to point out that the temple mount is the temple mount. It is not a point of conjecture. The modern walls built in the 16th century do not exactly match the walls of Jesus’ time. The defensive walls of the city went south from the temple mount with the East wall of the temple mount serving as the outer wall also. This wall in its day went south to where the 3 valleys intersect at the bottom of the City of David or old Jerusalem. The pinnacle of the temple could have been the high point of the Southeast corner of the temple platform where the wall is at its highest and the drop continues down into the ravine of the Kidron valley. Our first visit into the old city brought us through the Dung gate to the south side of the temple mount on the steps leading up to the temple mount. Above us on the temple mount is the El-Aksa Mosque, below is the area known as the City of David. This was the main entrance into the Court of the gentiles. We are looking at the Mount of Olives to the East with the Jewish graveyard awaiting the Messiah. The location of a bridge on the West side that brought the priests into the temple area is named after its archeological discoverer, Wilson. An archway that held another bridge, with the old Roman road, down beneath the current level of life, is named Robinson’s arch.
We also entered the old city through the Sheep Gate or Stephen’s Gate or the Lion Gate into the Moslem quarter. Life is happening. Shops and people. It was here I bought my candies, dates, teas and coffees to bring back. I had an interesting conversation with an Arab shop owner who let me know that it was God’s will that brought me to his store this day. I was with Pastor Gary Marsh while this man talked to me. The Muslim belief that everything is predestined was explained to us. After lunch, some of our group were taking photos of the young men smoking from a hookah. One young man used broken English profanity towards them without them realizing it. As they departed I was left just taking in the environment when this young man tried to aim his vile at me, telling me to leave his friends alone. I turned it into a teaching moment, President elect Obama would have been proud, I commented on his basketball tee shirt, mentioned that I coached basketball in Zambia, and left with a hand shake from the three young men who were all avid basketball players. We would eventually spend a little time in the Jewish and Armenian quarters. Our first night in Jerusalem found Joan and I taking a walk through an Orthodox neighborhood. We first got directions from a young, bearded with curly sideburns and blacksuited man who gave us directions to a store in very, very broken English. There was a sense of life in this neighborhood. Joan and I were obviously not a normal part of the flow of life in this place. It seemed that the men were going and coming from places of study. There was a sign admonishing tourist groups to not enter into the neighborhood. We passed shops and restaurants full of people enjoying the moment. The streets were not in the traditional square layout so we had to feel our way in a semi-circular movement back to the main street.