Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Garden Tomb

After leaving the Arab Quarter, we headed to the Garden Tomb.



The Garden Tomb is in the middle of a very busy and noisy Arab area. When you walk into the garden, you feel like you’ve entered an oasis, even though you can hear the horns blaring, radios playing, and people shouting.



This area is part of an ancient stone quarry. According to tradition, the quarry was used by the Jews as a place of execution by stoning. Christian tradition links this site to Stephen’s martyrdom. The Romans carried out crucifixions along busy roadsides as a visual deterrent  against rebellion. This ancient execution site at the intersection of two busy roads to Damascus and Jericho would have been ideal. It is also interesting to note the appearance of the skull in the cliff face of the quarry. The Bible says that Christ was crucified outside the city gate at the “place of the skull.” So this spot would fit the requirements.


This gentleman is from the United Kingdom. He was explaining why they believe that this could be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. He was very sweet. 


The tomb was unearthed in 1867. Not all archaeologists agree about its date but many describe it as being a Jewish tomb from the 1st century A.D. In later years it was possibly used for church worship because there are indications of a church structure, including early Christian crosses.

All of the evidence indicates that the vineyard’s owner was a very wealthy man. His tomb was cut out of the solid rock, there was a large weeping chamber, and there was a channel for a rolling stone. All of the features mentioned in the Bible’s description of the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea can be seen here.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the LORD Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? “He is not here, but He has risen.” Luke 24: 1-6


I had to take another photo of my feet standing on the stones upon which Jesus may have walked in His resurrected body.





While we were here we took communion. You can see the basket and the covered tray ready for us.

And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” Luke 22:19-20




This is where we were sitting as we read the scripture, took communion, and sang a song. I think we sang “Nothing But the Blood.”






Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you. May peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.” For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, “May peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. Psalm 122: 6-9

Someone was seeking a little solitude and some reflection time.



The volunteers also keep up the grounds.



This very well-preserved winepress was excavated in 1924 and is one of the largest in Israel. It is thought to be of pre-Christian origin and suggests that this area was a vineyard.


The people who care for the Garden Tomb are all volunteers who love the Lord.

The Via Dolorosa

After we left the Ecce Homo Basilica area, we headed to lunch. We were ready!


We are still in the Muslim Quarter although we must be looking towards the Jewish Quarter.


We are walking along the Via Dolorosa, or “way of grief.”


This is also one of the stations of the cross. It is the spot where Jesus is said to have fallen the first time. I don’t know how they came by that information.


This is the restaurant where we were having lunch.


This was lunch – a cheese pizza and a wintergreen mint drink. Both were delicious.


This is the Minnesota table. Carol is the lady in the middle. Doug is sitting beside here, but is concentrating on his food.


At this table we have Collette, Jon, Theresa, Brenda, and Vickie.






We had a few minutes to explore the area around the restaurant.


You can see that it was very, very busy.



This is the Armenian Church of Our Lady of the Spasm, the site where Mary is supposed to have seen Jesus as He walked by carrying the cross.





Some of the stones that we walked on were original to the time of Jesus. This was one. It makes you think of the title of that hymn, “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.” Please excuse my gross feet. Ha!


And here’s Judy’s.


I am unsure what this man was selling, however he was very interesting looking.




We were now headed toward the Damascus Gate and it was extremely crowded, so much so that you felt nervous. People were pushing and shoving and it was hard to keep up with the group. The children obviously did not want me to take their picture, which was not my intent. We also passed by a mother, along with her young son, who was selling something at a booth. She had a toy machine gun that she pointed at us as we passed. This was the only time during the whole trip that I felt nervous.


I didn’t take anymore pictures of the area or Damascus Gate because I was concentrating on not getting lost or separated from the group.

I found the following pictures off of the internet. The picture below is approaching the gate from inside the Old City. So it is a picture of the area above on a less crowded day.

imageThe one below is actually entering the Damascus Gate from the Old City. The only difference is that on the day we were exiting the gate it was jam-packed with people. You turn to the right once you enter the gate to exit.


This is the outside of the gate. Again, the only difference is that on the day we were there it was extremely crowded and the plaza in front of the gate was full of vendors.


The Damascus Gate is the main north-facing gate of the Old City. It was built in 1542 by Suleiman the Magnificent and is sometimes called the Shechem Gate by the Jews.