Monday, February 2, 2009

Israel Day Twelve!

Today we got up and I told Todd—I need to get some shopping done! We have been here 2 weeks, and I haven’t even bought any souvenirs—except for some olive wood nativities that we found in Bethlehem for a reasonable price. So shopping was priority one for me! After driving for an hour looking for a parking spot, we went to see the guy that Bob and Sue like in the Old City named Shaban. He deals a lot with the Mormons, and they have come to like him there. If he doesn’t have what you want, he can get it for you. He dressed Todd and I up, and we just had to buy these awesome costumes! Don’t we look awesome? I bought my sister a chess set, some Oreo mugs for my Dad, t-shirts for the kids (my favorite ones say “Holy Rock Café” Jerusalem), and awesome genuine widow’s mites that he put into necklaces for me. He even showed me a reference book of old coins so that I would know that they were really the widow’s mites that it talks about in the scriptures. I love them! I also took some video while we were walking around the Old City—check out how many people there are, and I even got another lady with a laundry basket on her head-AWESOME!

We went over and were able to get a parking place by the City of David, where Hezekiah’s Tunnel is. This is a tunnel that was dug over 2,700 years ago to bring fresh water into Jerusalem from the Gihon Springs. There were a ton of people there, and a lot of commotion. We were asking what was going on—and it turns out that Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a candidate for Prime Minister of Israel, was coming here for a campaign visit. So there were like 50 paparazzi who swarmed around him when he got there and it was just crazy. Wouldn’t you know it—this was the only place I didn’t have my camera the whole time we were here because Hezekiah’s tunnel still has water running through it, and I knew we would be waist deep in water during this tour, so I left it in the car. So, I was 10 feet from Netanyahu—who very well could be the next Prime Minister, and don’t have a picture of him! It was funny because Bob had his video camera and got right in with the paparazzi and pushed his way up there to get his own video. He is so funny! If he posts his video I will link to it!

Hezekiah’s tunnel was so awesome! I didn’t think I would like it, because I was going to get wet, and I thought that a 2,700 year old tunnel would be gross and dirty—but it was absolutely amazing! Totally not what I thought! The account of the construction of Hezekiah's water tunnel under Jerusalem by King Hezekiah shortly before the city was besieged by Sennacherib in about 701 BC is described in 2 Kings 20:20 and 2 Chronicles 32:2-4, 30. Archaeologists discovered the tunnel in the 19th century. It is a third of a mile long, mostly less than three feet wide, and, in a few places, less than five feet in height. It winds under the City of David from the Gihon Spring, an important site in Old Testament Jerusalem, to the Pool of Siloam, an important New Testament period site.
We were able to walk through the entire tunnel, lit only by our flashlights, wading through thigh-high water—(too bad we aren’t taller)! This was one of the highlights of our trip! The water was cold—but clean, and the tunnel was amazing to walk through (as long as you aren’t clausterphobic)!
Here are the Biblical accounts describing the construction of the tunnel:
When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. A large force of men assembled, and they blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?" they said.2 Chronicles 32:2-4
It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. 2 Chronicles 32:30
The builders of the tunnel who dug from both sides, and met in the middle, left their own account of the work carved into the rock wall near the tunnel outlet into the Pool of Siloam. The inscription (called the Siloam Inscription) was found in 1880 and is now in the Istanbul Museum. It reads:
"... the tunneling through. And this is the account of the tunneling through. While [the workmen raised] the pick each toward his fellow and while there [remained] to be tunneled [through, there was heard] the voice of a man calling to his fellow, for there was a split in the rock on the right hand and on [the left hand]. And on the day of the tunneling through the workmen stuck, each in the direction of his fellow, pick against pick. And the water started flowing from the source to the pool, twelve hundred cubits. And the height of the rock above the head of the workmen was a hundred cubits."

We stopped after we were done by the pool of Siloam and listened to another groups tour guide tell us the story about Jesus at the pool of Siloam healing the man who was blind, and also the story of Jesus telling the people that if any man thirsts, and desires living water, to come unto him, and live. It was very touching, and brought a new meaning to the story when you think about the fact that there was a terrible drought in the land, and when he told people that HE was the living water—they thought he was a little nuts. Sometimes I think that I go through spiritual droughts, and I need to drink of the living water that the Savior offers—I will try to remember the lesson we learned from that story. This was such a fun day—and what would top it off better than yet ANOTHER parking ticket on the car when we got back! Are you kidding me? I think it must be a conspiracy!

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