John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Saturday 3 November 2012

[Friday 2 November 2012]

Today was Day 6 of the holiday, but we’d already done the “Day 6” programme yesterday; today we did “Day 5”:
Day 5
After breakfast we will start our tour of Jerusalem by boarding the coach and making our way to the Garden of Gethsemane. We will continue to Dung Gate and the Western Wall and then stroll through the streets and alleyways of the Old City, as well as many other sites so famous here.
Janet wrote: “I was awake very early, although I had managed quite a bit of sleep.… I was in the dining room around 7am. Unfortunately, because it was the Sabbath everything was cold and there was only ‘the weird and the wonderful’ to eat. I tried all sorts of cold fish, cheeses, etc., and ‘salads’. Yuk, mostly. Not really the sort of stuff I fancy of a morning — or any time, really. However, I enjoyed the cereal, bread and jam, fruit and cakes. Coffee — and the juice — were crap!
[1] I returned to our room at 8am to find [John] gone. He appeared a few minutes later. He’d gone down to join me.”
[1] Without exception, in Israel, all the fruit juice that we were offered on arrival at hotels, or that was available from dispensers, was watered down. And none of the coffee was flavoursome or aromatic — with the exception of a sachet I used in the bedroom of one of our previous hotels: I thought it was instant coffee, but it proved to contain coffee-grounds; and it was very tasty, and enjoyable once I’d let the grounds settle to the bottom of the cup.
Yes, ca.8am I did go down, but not seeing Janet there I didn’t want to breakfast on my own — or worse, be forced to face alone people whom I didn’t know or barely knew — so I made a swift escape. I was not desperate to eat; perhaps it was the taking of codeine, along with other pain medications, which caused the feeling of fullness much of the time that only something really appetising could overcome. “Around 8.45am,” Janet wrote, “we boarded the coach for a tour of Jerusalem. Another HOT and sunny day. Our first stop was the Mount of Olives, just above the Jewish cemetery. We had an amazing panoramic view of Jerusalem from there. It was good to go today after seeing that model of old Jerusalem yesterday.” We arrived there via the adjacent Mount Scopus, the site of the Hebrew University campus. We descended, I had the impression, quite some distance from the summit of the Mount of Olives to our stopping place and vantage point, just above the very large Jewish cemetery. “Why would people want to be buried on the Mount of Olives?” asked Eric, who was back as our guide today. “To be near the angels?” someone suggested. I replied, “Because it’s the place where Messiah will come” — which Eric confirmed to be the right answer. The resurrection is held to begin at the place where Messiah comes, hence the desire to be buried there. I had in mind Zechariah 14:3–4:
Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.
I’d have liked to discuss with Eric who exactly is in view here, for the antecedent to “his feet”, which I took to be Messiah’s, is “the LORD” — arguably a proof-text for the Messiah being the LORD himself — but that opportunity didn’t arise. I did ask whether there was any geological fault or anything that would indicate the splitting in two, but Eric said not.

09:23:08 Scene on the Mount of Olives

09:24:46 View of Jerusalem across the Kidron Valley from the Mount of Olives

09:24:46 Detail (1) from the left of the above photo

09:24:46 Detail (2), right of detail (1)

09:24:46 Detail (3), right of detail (2)

09:24:46 Detail (4), right of detail (3)

09:25:18 Dome of the Rock

09:26:32 Similar shot to 09:24:46, but showing the wall of the Old City to its northern end

09:26:50 Al-Aqsa Mosque on the southern side of the Temple Mount

09:28:06 View just south of the above photo, showing the location of the Dung Gate

09:30:10 View even further south of the above, showing the location of the City of David (the original Mount Zion)

09:32:10 The hill now known as Mount Zion, with Hagia Maria Sion Abbey — or Basilica of the Assumption (or Dormition) — on the horizon

09:37:30 The northernmost part of the Old City wall. The golden dome of the Russian Orthodox Church of Maria Magdalene, on the Mount of Olives side of the Kidron Valley, is just visible (lower right).
After that we boarded the coach again, and went down to the Garden of Gethsemane, near the bottom of the valley on the east side. I saw a lizard emerge from a hollow in the olive tree photographed at 10:13:28 and scuttle down the bark to the ground.

10:10:10 Eric addresses us at the Garden of Gethsemane.

10:10:10 Detail from the above photo

10:13:28 Centuries-old olive trees in Gethsemane

10:13:38 Centuries-old olive trees in Gethsemane
Then we visited the next-door Church of All Nations, before going along the road a way, past Gethsemane, to where the coach picked us up.

10:17:14 About to enter the Church of All Nations

10:17:28 View from Gethsemane, across the Kidron Valley, of the Golden Gate and just the very top of the Dome of the Rock

10:17:28 Detail from the above photo

10:20:38 The Roman Catholic “Church of All Nations” or “Basilica of the Agony”

10:20:52 The Roman Catholic “Church of All Nations” or “Basilica of the Agony”

10:23:36 Central aisle of the Church of All Nations

10:24:54 Right aisle of the Church of All Nations

10:25:50 Zoomed-in view of the end of the right aisle of the Church of All Nations
[John 18:6:] When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew
back and fell to the ground.

10:26:12 View to the left of there of the altar. It enshrines a section of bedrock where Jesus is said to have prayed before his arrest (hidden by the crowds in this photo).

10:33:38 “Eddie Lizzard” in the north-western corner of Gethsemane as we passed

10:33:38 “Eddie Lizzard”, detail from the above photo

10:47:52 Waiting for the coach
We made the short journey across the Kidron Valley to just beyond the south of the Temple Mount, where we entered the Dung Gate. Eric addressed us in the archaeological garden within, before we proceeded to the part of the western wall actually called “the Western Wall”. (Photography was not permitted there.)

11:07:48 Approaching the Dung Gate — Mount of Olives and its Jewish cemetery in the background

11:08:18 Archaeological garden

11:08:18 Detail from the above photo

11:10:16 Eric addresses us in the archaeological garden.

11:10:16 Detail from the above photo

11:10:40 View right from there: Al-Aqsa Mosque at the southern end of the Temple Mount, and the Mount of Olives (background)

11:23:44 South-west corner of the Temple Mount

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

The lower part of the wall was constructed of very large — high and long — stone blocks, becoming shorter but perhaps just as high farther up. The top third of the wall was of more “standard” sized blocks. There were bushy plants growing out between the blocks in several places, and I wondered whether they might be the biblical “hyssop” (1 Kings 4:33): “[Solomon] spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall.” We found somewhere to sit to rest my aching feet. We’d agreed to meet up at a certain time; then we proceeded along a kind of “tunnel” in the wall on the north side of the square. Janet later reported seeing blood spattered on the ground and up the wall at one point. The tunnel was the start of el-Wad/ha-Gai Street; and back in the open air, we proceeded along narrow el-Wad Street, under many flying buttresses and arches, as it threaded through the Muslim Quarter to its intersection with the Via Dolorosa. We turned left into this, passing through more flying buttresses, arches, and also covered markets. Everywhere was very crowded, and there were also people grouping around market-stalls whom we had to circumamubulate, so it was a struggle to keep with our party and snap some kind of photo-record as we proceeded. Janet wrote: “It was during that trek that I had a very bad panic attack and wept.” That may have been in the vicinity of the “sebil” (Ottoman public drinking fountain) on the corner of el-Wad Street and Ala’ e-Din; I think Elizabeth helped her.

11:52:26 “Tunnel”

11:53:34 Narrow streets

11:55:28 Narrow streets

11:57:10 Narrow streets

11:58:58 A “sebil” (Ottoman public drinking fountain) on the corner of el-Wad Street and Ala’ e-Din. Michael and Elizabeth are there in front of the arch.

12:02:48 Approaching from the left, we join the Via Dolorosa. On the corner, the Franciscan chapel of Simon of Cyrene: the inscription reads “V ST. SIMONI CYRENAEO CRUX IMPONITUR” — “5th St[ation of the Cross]: The Cross is put on Simon of Cyrene.”

12:05:28 Via Dolorosa

12:07:04 Via Dolorosa

12:08:12 Via Dolorosa. Almost missed the 6th Station of the Cross (left): the Greek Roman Catholic “Church of the Holy Face and Saint Veronica”, where St. Veronica supposedly wiped the face of Jesus, the image of which was imprinted in the cloth.

12:12:52 7th Station of the Cross, where Christ fell for the second time. Now a Franciscan chapel.
The 7th Station of the Cross faced east, directly ahead of us as we proceeded westwards. In front of it, to left and right, was the vaulted-roofed and market-filled Beit ha-Bad. To its left, continuing westwards was a continuation of the Via Dolorosa. Google Street View has been helpful in reconstructing the route so far, but now it fails me. We perhaps turned left along Beit ha-Bad and then first right… We went through the arch at the bottom of a three-storey building and found ourselves at the entrance to the Coptic Patriarchate, where a Roman pillar to the left marks the 9th Station of the Cross (“Jesus falls the third time”). We entered there, and shortly found ourselves in the courtyard of the Ethiopian Deir al-Sultan monastery, which is actually on the roof of the St. Helena Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre Church. There was a short-cut through the chapel of the Deir al-Sultan monastery out into the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre Church.

12:21:16 Nearing the Coptic Patriarchate

12:23:08 Entrance to the Coptic Patriarchate, where a Roman pillar to the left marks the 9th Station of the Cross (“Jesus falls the third time”)

12:24:28 Courtyard of the Ethiopian Deir al-Sultan monastery on the roof of the St. Helena Chapel, whose dome this is

12:24:50 Entering the chapel of the Deir al-Sultan monastery

12:26:26 Passing through the chapel of the Deir al-Sultan monastery

12:27:56 Church of the Holy Sepulchre

12:28:12 Courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

12:28:42 Minaret of the Mosque of Omar at the opposite end of the courtyard from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

12:32:04 Entrance to the the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Eric pointed out the “Immovable Ladder” resting at the right window above the entrance of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. It was first mentioned in 1757 and has remained in the same exact location since the 18th century. The ladder is referred to as “immovable” due to an understanding that no cleric of the six Christian orders sharing the site may move, rearrange, or alter any property without the consent of all six orders. Then the “Status Quo” — a decree of the Ottoman Empire that preserved the division of ownership and responsibilities of various sites in the Holy Land important to Christians, Moslems, and Jews, to their current holders or owners — consolidated that position. No-one could agree about precisely who was responsible for what — including the removal of the ladder! We seemed to be standing in the heat in the courtyard a long time. We didn’t go in the church because the size of the queues to see the Holy Sepulchre and to go up to see the traditional site of the Crucifixion was prohibitive.

12:32:22 The “Immovable Ladder”
“…We went… to the Jaffa Gate,” Janet wrote. “It was then around 1.15pm.[2] Most of us were led by Eric to a restaurant (open-air, but shaded) with a panoramic view of Jerusalem.” We went up several flights of stairs to the roof-terrace, where there were tables in longish rows under awnings. The “panoramic view” included to the east the Dome of the Rock and beyond it the summit of the Mount of Olives. (Strange, that in the photo, below, there’s not a hint of the Valley of the Kidron that separates the two. It called to mind that in Bible prophecy, sometimes events separated by many years are seen in one view, e.g., in the Olivet Discourse, the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred some 40 years later, and the return of the Lord, which nearly 2000 years later still hasn’t happened.) “We had a shawarma and a cold drink,” Janet added (I think I had a non-alcoholic beer and Janet Fanta). “I really enjoyed the food. It was spicy hot chicken and salad in a warm pitta bread.” When I went halfway down the stairs to the pay desk, the man charged me 110 shekels. I gave him a 100 shekel note and 10 shekels in coin(s). I thought the price was very steep, and I was grumpy as I waited for Janet at the door outside. She went up and queried the price: that bastard claimed that he charged me 90 shekels and GAVE ME 10 shekels change! “We then found a bench outside in the shade and had ice creams,” Janet wrote. “I then bought a Fanta. At 2.30pm we rejoined the group and came out through the Jaffa Gate. We re-boarded the coach and arrived back at the hotel around 3.30pm.”[3] The rendezvous point was by the Tower of David. As always, there was some uncomfortable-for-me waiting around; but eventually the party all gathered, and we proceeded through the nearby Jaffa Gate. There’s a gap next to the gate, now for vehicular access, made in 1898 when German Emperor Wilhelm II insisted on entering the city in his automobile, and the weakening Ottoman rulers complied. That’s what I think Norman said, but Wikipedia tells a different tale; it says he entered “mounted on his white horse. Local legend said that Jerusalem would be ruled by a king who entered the city's gates on a white horse, so to satisfy the emperor's vanity and avoid the fate foretold by legend, a breach was made in the wall rather than allow him to ride through a gate.” Then we went on a few hundred yards, across the broad footbridge across the main road, down some steps to the lower level and along to where we boarded the coach back to the hotel. I think it was at that point that Eric left us. Norman had suggested that we put any gratuities in an envelope, but I’d neglected to do that. The only convenient banknotes I had were two 20 shekel ones, so I folded them together and gave them to Eric when we shook hands. Janet farewelled him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
[2] It was perhaps a little before that, judging by the photo, below, timed as “13:29:58” — and allowing time to walk to the restaurant, get settled, place our order, get drinks, then for me to get up and take the photo.
[3] Again, it was perhaps a little before that — we’re heading for the coach in the photo of “14:45:22”, and we’re out again about to enter The Garden Tomb at “15:51:54”.

13:29:58 View of the Dome of the Rock and beyond it the summit of the Mount of Olives from the roof-terrace of the restaurant

14:37:24 Our rendezvous point outside the Tower of David

14:37:46 View to the right of “14:37:24”: the Jaffa Gate

14:39:52 View to the left of “14:37:24”: the visitor-entrance to the Tower of David

14:45:14 Gap in the wall, originally made for Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1898

14:45:22 Heading for the coach — Tower of David in the background
If we were to visit The Garden Tomb it had to be today, because tomorrow, Sunday, it would be closed. Janet wrote: “[John] wanted to see The Garden Tomb, so we asked Norman how we could get there and were given directions — not far, apparently.” It was just a matter of continuing straight along the road where St. George’s Cathedral was situated (i.e. where I needed to turn back on Friday 2 November 2012). “We set off on our own,” Janet continued. “([John] had done really well again today. As usual his feet were very painful.…) It was SO good to be on our own and doing this at our own pace. There was no pressure to keep up with anyone. We simply strolled along and enjoyed the experience. We found some small shops and bought a couple of ice lollies — TWO SHEKELS! WOW! — for both of them.[4] We noticed this shop also had chill cabinets of drinks so we decided to call back there on our way “home”. We reached The Garden Tomb, which was established in 1893 by the Garden Tomb Association by an independent British charitable trust. No admission [charge]. Everyone was polite and helpful. This is an amazing place. There were actually a lot of people there but somehow it didn’t feel crowded. It is a beautiful, peaceful place, with well maintained gardens. We could hear birds singing. There were flowers in bloom. There were lots of benches to sit on. So far, neither of us had connected with any of the so-called ‘religious sites’ we’d seen (although it WAS very interesting to go) but we did with this place. We do realise it only COULD be the garden of Joseph of Arimathea but we sat on a bench and [John] related what happened and we both wept together.” We sat not far from the tomb and I started to tell the story of Mary Magdalene as related in John, but in that place it made me cry.
…She turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).
[4] That compensated us, we felt, for being ripped off in the restaurant earlier.

15:51:54 Side road to The Garden Tomb

15:53:20 Entrance to The Garden Tomb

“We then went to Skull Hill,” Janet continued, “and joined a group from America. It was great to listen to that preacher, who was very passionate.” There was a covered raised area, a vantage point for the rocky cliff of Skull Hill. The American visitors and their pastor were Southern Baptists. (“Amen, Pastor!”) His message covered the same ground as what I’d just done. He also mentioned that in the Law the burnt offering was to be sacrificed on the north side of the altar: (Leviticus 1:10–11:) “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the LORD…” This site was north of the temple, whereas the traditional site was on the west (not, he emphasised, that we rely on such locations as the basis for our faith; as far as that’s concerned, it matters not where the crucifixion, entombment and resurrection occurred, only that they did and why).

16:03:40 The way to Skull Hill

16:12:44 Skull Hill from the raised vantage point

16:13:40 Zoomed in view of perhaps a “skullish” feature
Janet wrote: “We then headed off to the Tomb and encountered Elizabeth and Michael, and we went in the tomb together.” There was already a party of Germans there, with a German-speaking member of the Garden Tomb staff, and we had to wait for them. The Tomb has two chambers, the one on the other side of the door, and one to the right of that, where presumably the body was laid.

16:15:28 The way from Skull Hill to the Tomb

16:17:06 Approaching the tomb

16:18:04 Entering the tomb

16:21:58 The first chamber, seen on entering the tomb

16:21:40 The first chamber, seen on entering the tomb

16:20:52 Chamber to the right side of the first chamber — the end nearest the outside

16:21:08 Chamber to the right side of the first chamber — the inner end

Combined view of 16:20:52 and 16:21:08
Janet wrote: “After [that] we went back to Skull Hill and encountered other members of our group.” I wasn’t completely convinced of the skull-like appearance and went back for another look, photographing it from the boundary fence below the observation platform. Then we went back up on the platform, where there were two of the women who had been baptised on Wednesday 31 October 2012. The connection between this site and baptism came to me, and I attempted to quote as much of Romans 6:3–4 as I could remember, not very adequately:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 
Afterwards, the thought of having done that made me feel ashamed and embarrassed. But I guess I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, even if it was a blunder on my part.

16:28:52 Another look at Skull Hill
“We went in the bookshop and bought two postcards,” Janet wrote, “and I bought [John] a Bible.” It was a compact edition of the NIV, without section headings, but with an overall introduction and introductions to each of the books. It was a “rooster” version, i.e. unanglicised. Wikipedia sums The Garden Tomb up perfectly:
One unquestionable virtue of the site is that it is far more similar to the scene that would have been experienced at the time than the Church of the Holy Sepulchre presents; for that reason it is worth a visit, whether or not it is actually the site concerned.
“After that, we set off for the hotel,” Janet wrote, “stopping off at ‘our shop’ for bottles of Diet Coke, Fanta, apple juice, and cans of Diet Coke: 37 shekels for the lot! We ‘got lost’ briefly but arrived back ‘home’ at 5.30pm.” We thought we were retracing our outward steps — after all, it was only a matter of keeping straight on — but we found ourselves joining a main road; and instead of turning left off the road to get to the hotel, we had to bear right off the main road. “It had been wonderful at the Garden [Tomb],” Janet wrote. “It had really lifted our spirits. [John] had been VERY upset earlier, and unhappy (which made me unhappy) and wanted to go home.” I know that sometimes the pain, difficulty and frustration I experienced got the better of me and I went into black moods of agitation and depression, but I don’t remember this one specifically. “At 6pm we went for dinner,” Janet wrote. “[John] decided he couldn’t face it and returned to the room. I had a good tuck in — LOTS of scrummy desserts! I snaffled two fancy bread rolls and a couple of apples for [John] as I knew he’d enjoy them. And he did! Along with some fruit and nut chocolate!” I transferred today’s photos to the “little feller” and edited the first three (with four cropped and higher-definition details from one of them) (18:41–18:52). This is Janet’s account of the evening’s outing: “At 7.30pm we went down to the lobby and joined our party. We boarded the coach and headed for the Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem, for a Sound and Light Night Spectacular. Initially, I didn’t fancy going, but I’m glad I did. It lasted 45 minutes and was AWESOME! It was outside and it wasn’t cold. I’d never seen anything like it in my life. It was truly amazing and made my jaw drop.” The coach dropped us more or less where it had set us down earlier, so we retraced our walk, now with the aid of street-lights not daylight, up steps, across the bridge over the main road, through the Jaffa Gate (or I think, perhaps, this time, through the gap to the right of it), and round to the right, stopping at the booking office before the boardwalk bridge leading to the public entrance. We had to wait in a fairly abundant queue of people, both to receive our tickets from Norman, with a descriptive card, and because the double (glass?) doors of the entrance were shut. It was getting so close to the start time that I thought we’d not get in in time. The way to the seating area led right round the daytime exhibition site. I was offered a direct way down by an attendant, but I declined because it was down a ramp which I figured would be more difficult than the first way. Anyway, we did get seated in time. Some of the Japanese members of the audience ignored the ban on photography. It was hard to visualise before the floodlights went down how any kind of show could possibly be projected, but it was done very effectively onto every visible part of the castle, and seemed to fit the various planes and angles of the walls and structures. The music and the sound quality were good too.

Our tickets

Descriptive card

Photos from the Tower of David website

Back at the hotel, Janet wrote, “I had a shower and sat on the bed for a while then finally ‘got my head down’ around 10.45pm. Today had been really good ever since we left the hotel on our own to go to The Garden Tomb. [John] was still up, working on his computer.” I edited 37 images from today (some of these cropped, higher-definition details from other images) using the little feller (22:01–23:25).

[Sunday 4 November 2012]

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