Israel
Mount Zion

Here you’ll find travel reports about Mount Zion. Discover travel destinations in Israel of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

15 travelers at this place:

  • Day16

    Today we left Jerusalem for the first time and headed out into the wilderness east of the city. This is known as the Judean wilderness. This is the same wilderness in which Jesus chose to set his parable about the good Samaritan. It is the wilderness in which Jesus was to be tempted by Satan. It is stark and barren and wild and honestly, human beings have no good reason to be there.

    Except, I think, to learn to rely on God. Wilderness is a great classroom and the lessons learned here can be learned nowhere else. Jesus faced the same question in the wilderness as the Israelites did before entering the Promised Land. The question God asks in the wild is, "Will you trust me, even if the fundamentals for your survival are stripped from you?"

    One psalmist prayed, "Let me know how fleeting is my life." Standing on the edge of a cliff above a rugged canyon, watching dark gray shapes soaring in the sky below you reminds you: the wilderness is a death-ready place.

    And then we watched as a Bedouin shepherd grazed his flocks on the steep ravine sides far below us. And the twenty-third Psalm jumped off the landscape. Yes. The Lord is my shepherd. And I will not take one God-forsaken step without Him. I need nothing but Him.

    We read a poem called The Peace of Wild Things

    When despair grows in me
    and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
    in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
    I go and lie down where the wood drake
    rests in his beauty on the water,
    and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things
    who do not tax their lives with forethought
    of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
    And I feel above me the day-blind stars
    waiting with their light. For a time
    I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

    :)

    We stopped in Jericho to explore excavations of ancient ruins. Jericho was actually way smaller than I had always thought. Maybe only about 10 acres. The same size as David's Jerusalem. Tiny really, but so important to the people of Israel as they moved into the Promised Land. We then traveled the Jericho-Gezer Road across the plain of Benjamin, watching so many stories of God unfold as we crossed the landscape. We stopped at the traditional tomb of Samuel and ended the day studying more archaeology in Gezer. 12 long hours, packed with information and scenery.

    Tomorrow, we head to Mt. of Olives and then back into the West Bank area then south to visit Bethlehem.
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  • Day20

    Today we had a day off class, and we were free to do as we pleased. A few of us decided to wake up early, drive the sleep from our eyes and attend a pre-dawn Latin mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The empty streets (see photo) were such a different experience than the chaos of the days before. When we got to the church, we could hear the music before we walked in. Gregorian chanting, done in the great room of that cathedral was certainly something to behold (photo). It is (if you’ll remember) the likely place of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. There isn’t much to compare to a high mass in that kind of setting. It was something that I will not soon forget.

    After the mass, we made our way down to see if we could get up onto the Temple Mount. This is the structure that used to be the foundation for God’s Holy Temple, but now is the site of a mosque called the Dome of the Rock (gold-domed structure in photos). The Dome of the Rock is a magnificent piece of architecture that was completed in the 1300’s. The mosaics (see photos) are absolutely stunning.

    For Muslims, this place on the Temple Mount is considered the third most holy place on the planet (after Medina and Mecca). Of course, the Jews consider the Temple Mount their most holy place and as Christians, we make our own claim on the place, alongside the Jews.

    The temple mount is not always open to foreigners, but right now, there is enough peace between the Palestinians and Jews that we were granted access. As we made our way up the steep ramp from the site of the Western Wailing Wall to the top of the Temple Mount, a Jewish man below shouted “Remember, it is not the Muslims who are discriminated against, it is the Jews!” For the time being, I could make nothing of that comment, but that would change soon.

    As we walked through the archway onto the Temple Mount, we were greeted with very contrasting impressions. We were surrounded by lush gardens, beautiful fountains and breathtaking architecture. But the tranquility was broken by large groups of old men in traditional Muslim garb chanting to Allah, heavily armed soldiers shouting various things at various people, and Muslim women chanting loud prayers in high-pitched voices.

    We weren’t quite sure what to think. Or how to feel.

    We made our way around the mount, ourselves being shouted at a few times for stepping where we were not supposed to step or trying to go where we were not supposed to go. It was very tense, and this feeling was exacerbated when a group of Jews came onto the Temple Mount and all eyes turned to them. Most Jews are forbidden on the Temple Mount (and I suspect many would not be caught dead there), but some choose to go anyway to get that much closer to the Holy of Holies.

    As they entered the courtyards, the chanting Muslim women started yelling at the Jews in screams of anger, running over and shaking fists. This caught everyone’s attention and suddenly, a group of men reading from the Koran abandoned their studies and started to close in as well. Shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater) filled the air from both men and women. The Jews were immediately surrounded by security police who escorted them to a corner of the Temple Mount where they could worship, unmolested by the Muslims. The fray died down and we scurried down to the safety of less tense places.

    As I watched this unfold the man’s words echoed in my ears, “It is not the Muslims who are discriminated against, it is the Jews!” and I had new insight. This hatred has existed for a long time and there is nothing easy about the answer. Both faith traditions lay some valid claim to this area. But, as we walked away, it was so obvious that all was not right with the world. Shalom was not here.

    There was once another ancient conflict between the Jews and a group of people called the Samaritans. Jesus addressed it in John 4 “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

    And the heaviness of the day was lifted as our team broke bread together over dinner. Although it isn’t always obvious, things are going according to plan.

    I won't be posting for the next few days. We take a field trip to the south and the Negev, a stark desert regions. Temperatures of 110+ to be expected. I'll keep good notes though and post when I return to Jerusalem.

    In the mean time, Shalom!
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  • Day15

    Day 3: Morning

    May 21, 2015 in Israel

    We are learning to organize Scripture as a “walker” would (nothing to do with Walking Dead here). Our typical ways of organizing Scripture are either by theology or by or by topic or by the layout we have in our Bibles. In Biblical times though, literacy and access to the text of Scripture was virtually non-existent. People didn’t pass books to one another, they passed on places. They built altars in places to remember the movements of God. Deuteronomy reminds us to pass on the stories of God to our children as we “walk along the roads.” Travelers would move from place to place and as they did, they would move from story to story.

    Stories fill these places.

    Rarely do we organize Scripture geographically. But now, as I walk among the stories of the Old and New Testaments, I find that “place” creates connections of Biblical texts as I have never seen. One place carries so many stories. Each one is an important reminder of the ways in which God has broken into this story of humanity.
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  • Day15

    Excavations, Holy Sepulcher

    May 21, 2015 in Israel

    We woke up early this morning and headed back out into the Old City. This time we went to visit the excavations in the area of the southern side of the western wall (Temple Mount Excavations). We sat on the steps that used to lead up to the temple, the probable location where Jesus taught and learned as a 12 year old. This was also the likely location of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2. We read Peter’s sermon from the steps and listened in as Peter pointed behind himself to David’s tomb. We could see the tomb from where we sat and it was not hard to imagine that we were there.

    From there we headed into the heart of the Old City and spent the rest of the morning absorbing the massively complex Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Here, pilgrims from almost every Christian faith tradition find themselves in awe. For those who don’t know, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is built on what was likely the site of Jesus’ death and burial. Golgatha. Good archaeological and historical evidence points to this being the very place where Christ died for you and for me. You can imagine the sense of awe you might feel as you walk amid devout believers, venerating this holy site. The church houses the highest point of the rock quarry that once made up the hill of Golgatha, as well as the traditional tomb of Jesus.

    We’ve learned that there are connotations associated with all places. In other words, every place evokes thoughts and feelings when someone speaks its name. When people of the Bible say, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” it shows that there is a connotation that is associated with that place. Similar to the connotations we have when we think of place names we know such as “Hawaii,” “Compton,” “Detroit.” As modern readers of ancient Biblical texts, this is largely lost on us. At best, a place name is simply another dot on the map (for those who even bother to look at a map).

    But each name carries so much more.

    I left the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and wandered alone back through the shops and vendors of Habad Street. Haggling and turmoil all around me, but I was lost in the sense of inspiration. I am coming to understand some of the connotations of the name “Jerusalem.” But I am only scratching, scratching at the surface.
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  • Day12

    Jerusalem University College

    May 18, 2015 in Israel

    We have arrived! Here's a photo of most of our group. Mostly students from Simpson who are often more well versed in Bible knowledge than I am. Dead tired. :) Good night.

  • Day3

    Israel at last

    June 28, 2017 in Israel

    After 31 hours of travel, we arrived at Tel Aviv. More distinct from Zurich, it couldn't be. Flying in it is very arid and brown, not unlike Aus. from rhe air. Customs very slow. Our driver for transfer didn't show, so a taxi it is. Interesting ride! Driver could barely speak a word of English and as for Hebrew for us? Could have been Swahili. Crazy driver and crazy traffic. Not too keen on indicators here but love their horns. The right feel about it though. I was imaging driving through narrow crowded streets in somewhere like Casablanca. We get to hotel, also very middle eastern in architecture and with views to the old city.Read more

  • Day24

    West Bank

    May 30, 2015 in Israel

    Well, we're back in Jerusalem for another few days. I'll be making the hill-laden walk to the Israel Museum with friends today. It's something of a free day, but we have a big exam tomorrow, so really, freedom is an illusion. ;)

    Yesterday was incredible for several different reasons (have we had a bad day yet? I think not!). We ventured North to Shiloh, Shechem & Samaria, all in Palestinian controlled territories. Safety and security were much talked about as we ventured into these areas. I may have alluded to this before, but the conflict between Palestinians and Israeli's is such a difficult one. I tend to simplify it in the States (we love easy answers!)

    Let me just give you a quick example: the Palestinians who live within the modern boundaries of Israel pay taxes to the Israeli government, but do not vote. Of course, good reasons and justifications abound, but almost any modern American would rankle at the idea of taxation without representation. But if the vote was given to Palestinians, their populations would outnumber the Israeli's and power would shift.

    Did I mention it was complicated? And, trust me, after an hour long lecture, that is just the very tip of the iceberg. There are so many layers, so many missteps from both sides, so little agreement. Right now the peace that exists is an uneasy and temporary peace. It cannot last because both nations have legitimate claims to the land, legitimate claims to the heritage that they have on each and every site we visit. They are important sites for every religious tradition represented in this diverse land.

    It makes me so happy that, as Americans we inhabit a land without baggage. Of course, the Native American fiasco should not be lost in the conversation, but overall, the land we inhabit does not have a complicated history. If you live in California, no one is laying in wait for you to leave so they can jump back on land that they consider their own.

    Not so in this complicated land called Israel.

    I'll write more later, but would love to hear your thoughts in the mean time.
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Mount Zion

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