Tell Jericho-the oldest city ever found in the entire world, with a tower structure dating back to 8000 BC... yeah, I was there! No biggie. Just pretty much made my life complete. Almost anyway :) But seriously, this place was incredible. I remember studying the city and its archaeology in my Biblical Archaeology class I took two years ago. My group was assigned to write a paper and present on Jericho, and I absolutely fell in love. I knew I just had to go, and well, now I have. Check. :) I won't launch into the nerdy archaeology stuff that got me so excited to go see this place in person, but let's just say there was a lot of it, and it made me REALLY happy. :)
And I always knew that Jericho was an oasis city, but after seeing what it looks like in person, it is truly an OASIS CITY. Modern day Jericho stretches from the hills down to the Dead Sea. None of this small village business. I don't know what I was expecting, but whatever it was was quickly surpassed.
City of David and Hezekiah's Tunnel
Last week we went to the City of David--the Original "Jerusalem" captured and built up by King David, still considered by Israelis today as the greatest king in their history. From this original city, Jerusalem grew north and west up on to Mount Zion and Mount Moriah and through the Tyropean valley in between. After seeing some excavated areas from the ancient city (including a 3000 year old toilet! haha), we had the highlight of the trip by walking through the 1/3 mile long tunnel built by Hezekiah in 701 BC to channel water from the Gihon Spring to the Siloam Pool. On the eve of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem, it was crucial that Hezekiah devise a way to protect the water source of Jerusalem. After the prophet Isaiah prayed and consulted with Hezekiah, the plan was to dig a tunnel underneath the city so as to channel the run-off of the spring to be within the city walls. Incredible! Seriously... And I'm not necessarily one to LOVE wading through a wet, dark, moldy tunnel built 2700 years ago. But this was absolutely amazing! SO FUN!!
At the end of the tunnel, you arrive at the Siloam pool, where there are some remnants of columns, where we got some really fun pictures. Luckily, we have national parks cards that will get us back in there for free, so I'm definitely planning on going again!
On Monday, we had a field trip to a Biblical Landscape Preserve called Neot Kedumim. Here they have plants and animals from the Bible, and it is very hands-on, which I love! We herded sheep and goats, ground hyssop into the stuff we eat on our pita bread (Za'atar in Arabic), drew water from a cistern, made pita bread, threshed some wheat, etc. It was such a neat experience and definitely one I will treasure forever. And I tried to gather as many types of the plants/fruit that I could while I was there for my Jerusalem Box. :) So those of you who have always wondered what hyssop is... well I can show you. ;)