Land of God, Israel
trip to Israel was very exciting, but it was also a very
difficult time for Israelis and Palestinians. They
had been in the middle of a war for several weeks.
The war started because of unceasing rocket fire from Gaza
into Israel over the past year. The rocket attacks
seriously damaged several Israeli villages and undermined
with air attacks but the situation quickly escalated into
a full scale ground invasion into Gaza. Deep seeded
issues brought on this war, not just territorial issues.
The conflict goes back in their history throughout many
It all started
with Abraham, their patriarch. You may have heard
about the story of Isaac and Ishmael. According to
the Bible, Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to try and
sacrifice him to God. God stopped him and provided a
lamb for sacrifice instead and instead promised Abraham
that he would bless him and make him a great nation.
believe that it was Isaac who was taken Mount Moriah.
They believe it was Ishmael. Thatís why the Temple
Mount is so important to Muslims, Jews and Christians.
Because on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount), the promise of
being blessed was given to the Jews and Arabs.
The location, they
believe, of Abrahamís sacrifice, is the Dome of the Rock
in Jerusalem. It is arguably the most famous, and
important building, in the world. Underneath its
golden dome is a huge slab of rock. This is
the most holy site for the Jews and Muslims. For
Jews it's the same location of the first and second Jewish
temple. For Muslims, it's also where they believe Mohammed
ascended into heaven.
According to the
Bible, the first temple was built by King Solomon and
destroyed by the Babylonians. It was then rebuilt
under King Zerubbabel and Nehemiah and expanded by King
Herod. The second temple was also destroyed, this
time by the Romans. Many Christians believe the
second destruction was prophesied by Yeshua (Jesus) in the
After the Roman
Empire converted to Christianity, this area was barren for
many, many years to prove the Messiah's prediction was
right (that the Temple would be destroyed). Nothing
was built there until the area was controlled by Islam.
Abd al- Malik started building the Dome of the Rock around
685-688 A.D. and finished it in 691 A.D. Another
reason this area is important to Muslims is because they
believe Muhammed, the founder of Islam, ascended
into heaven there. They call this place Haram al
Sharif which means "noble shrine."
It doesn't matter
which of the three major religions you belong to -
Judaism, Islam and Christianity - this is a central
location for your faith.
This location is
the center of Jerusalem and the capital of Israel.
Jerusalem is also the capital for the prophesy for the
God began the
creation of the Universe there, according to Jewish
beliefs. (Foundation stone: Mount Moriah)
God created Adam there, using dust from Mount Moriah.
tradition is that Adam first offered sacrifice on
Mount Moriah as did his sons Cain and Abel.
Abraham met Malkhi-tzedek (Melchisedec) in Jerusalem.
to sacrifice his son, Isaac there.
made Jerusalem the capital of Israel.
temple was built in Jerusalem.
The temple was
rebuilt (second temple).
was crucified and resurrected there.
Christian church was established in Jerusalem.
will return to Jerusalem. This belief is held by
Christians, Jews and Muslims.
puzzle over this questions. Some say simply,
"We don't know." Others believe it means
harmony. Harmony that shows the perfection of God.
There are others that believe it has two parts. One
is "Jeru" and one is "salem".
The Hebrew word for Jeru means to teach, while the Hebrew
word salem means peace. So, it means to teach peace
from this city. All of the theories are debated by
Right south of
Dome of the Rock is called Holy Mosque of El-Aqsa.
This location is
where Muhammed prayed towards Mecca. It's a holy
site for Muslims. And right under west side is located the
Western Wall, also called the Wailing Wall. This is
the most holy site for Judaism. The reason for this
location to be holy for Jews is because it's the closest
place to the Dome of the Rock, Temple Mount that they can
pray freely. The western wall is the only wall
remaining from the second temple era.
people aren't allowed on the Temple Mount, they pray at
the Wailing Wall. Every day, hundreds or even
thousands of worshippers come here to pray for the peace
of Jerusalem or to worship God.
The wailing wall
is divided into two sections. One section is for the
man the other section is for the woman. Non-Jewish
people can go there but the men have to wear a kippa
(skull cap). This area is heavily controlled by
Orthodox Jews. They have Yeshiva schools there for
teaching Orthodox Judaism.
divided by the Old City and the New City. The Old
City is surrounded by walls. The Old City is mostly
religious tourism. The New City is new development
on the west side of Jerusalem. It has government
building and shopping.
The Old City
The Old City is
surrounded by a wall and has the Temple Mount. It
has Muslim, Jewish, Christian and Armenian quarters.
They live in relative harmony with each other.
The main gate is
Jaffa Gate. Here is found the Tower of David Museum
of History of Jerusalem. It is a citadel that was a
fortress for many years. Some believe that here is
where King Herod's palace was located.
The old city is
surround by many gates. The North side has the New
Gate, Damascus Gate and Herod's Gate. The East side
there is Lion's Gate and Golden Gate. The Golden
Gate is very important for religious figures in Islam and
Christianity. They both believe that at the second
coming of the Messiah, Jesus/Yeshua will arrive through
this gate. But there are some differences in their
beliefs. Currently, this gate is completely sealed.
The South side has Dung Gate and Zion Gate. The Zion
Gate, during the 6-year war, is where the Israeli army
entered the Old City and recaptured it. Because of
that, it is heavily damaged with bullet holes.
The Muslim Quarter
is mostly in the middle and north of the Old City.
The Christian Quarter is mostly the west side, in which
the Most Holy Sepulcher and the Greek Orthodox
Patriarchate are located. Many Catholics and Greek
Orthodox believe that this was where Jesus was crucified
and his tomb is located. Thus also, the place of His
resurrection. But, many other scholars believe the
location of the crucifixion is questionable. They
believe it's possible he was buried right outside the
Damascus Gate area. Because that's where they
usually throw dead bodies at that time. The Via
Dolorosa goes from the Temple Mount to the Holy Sepulcher
and many believe this is the path Christ took when he
walked to His crucifixion.
there is a re-enactment on the Via Dolorosa of Christ's
path. Also, mainly in Messianic Judaism, a few
believe the crucifixion may have happened on Wednesday
night (the beginning of Thursday). To fulfill
the scriptural prophecy that he would be raised after
three days and three nights, much like Jonah was in the
belly of the whale for three days and three nights, they
believe he was resurrected on Sunday.
Quarter of the Old City is the Armenian Quarter.
There used to be many thousands that lived here, but the
numbers are thought to have decreased to under a thousand.
Much of the Quarter is closed to foreigners, unless they
have a tour arranged in advance.
The Jewish Quarter
is on the south side of the city and thousands of families
live there. Their community was rebuilt after
reunification of Jerusalem in the 1967 6-Day War.
This area is the most modern and nice part of the Old
City. Many synagogues are located here.
The Mount of
Olives, West Bank
The Mount of
Olives (Har Ha-zetim) is located east of the Temple Mount
(Har haBŠyit). This is another very important
location for Christians. It is where Yeshua/Jesus is
said to have entered the city while riding a donkey.
He was captured as a result of Judas' betrayal in this
area as well.
Also, he got
descended to heaven and promised to come back to the Mount
of Olives again. This location is a very desired
place for Jews and a very expensive place to be buried.
Many Jews who die overseas, away from Israel, want to be
There are a couple
of famous areas in this location: the tomb of Mary and the
Church of the Garden of Gethsemane and Mary Magdalene.
The valley between
the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives is called Kidron
Valley (Qidron Valley). Many people are
buried in this valley. Some religious people believe
this valley is the Valley of Death and underneath it is
hell. It is believed, in the last days this valley
will open up and swallow all the unrighteous people.
All the righteous people will pass through from the Mount
of Olives to the Temple Mount without falling in it.
This cannot be proved, but what is true is that many, many
people died in this valley during wars.
and the Pillar of Absalom and Zechariah's Tomb are also
located there. Many archeological excavations are
going on right now. Each time they dig, new
discoveries are made that prove the amazing accuracy of
Sea of Galilee
Located in the
northern part of Israel is the Sea of Galilee. It's
a freshwater lake, unlike the Dead Sea which is a salt
water lake. The Sea of Galilee feeds the Dead Sea
through the Jordan river. Geologists believe this
area used to be ocean, but got closed off by earth
movement. It is believed the Sea of Galilee and the
Dead sea were connected as part of the same ocean.
The Sea of Galilee
is a major freshwater fishing industry. The Hebrew
name for the Sea of Galilee is Yam Kinneret which means in
the shape of a harp. So, in a manner of speaking,
it's the Sea of Harp.
is where Yeshua (Jesus) started his ministry and gathered
his disciples. These disciples were mostly fishermen
from the Sea of Galilee. Two famous Biblical cities
are Capernaum and Bethsaida. Capernaum has the
remains of a huge Jewish synagogue, where, it is believed,
Yeshua (Jesus) taught. Bethsaida is where Yeshua
(Jesus) healed the blind man and fed more than 5,000 with
5 loaves of bread and two fish.
The Sea of Galilee
area is surrounded by small open hills, not blanketed with
trees. It is believed that the Sermon on the Mount,
in the book of Matthew (in the Bible), took place in the
northern part of the Sea of Galilee.
The west of
Galilee is a city called Nazareth. This city is
where Yeshua (Jesus) spent most of his youth. It
used to be very small at the time of Christ, possibly only
twenty or so houses. Because it was an
insignificant town at the time, the Pharisees questioned,
"What good can come out of Nazareth?" But now,
it's a large major city in Israel. Nazareth is
located on a hillside. From the west side of
Nazareth is a plain with a hill called Megiddo. It
is believed by many religions that the final battle of
Good and Evil will take place there. Any time Israel
was invaded by foreign powers such as the Assyrians and
Romans, they all passed through this area on their way to
Jerusalem or on their way to southern Israel and Egypt.