Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 11 - Breakfast at Hotel -> Temple Mount -> Pool of Bethesda and St Anne's Church -> Garden Tomb

Queuing on the wooden bridge to enter Temple Mount after tight security check. Tension was high here when we were there.

Rev Quek's Notes:

The Temple Mount is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years. At least four religious traditions are known to have made use of the Temple Mount: Judaism, Christianity, Roman religion, and Islam. The present site is dominated by three monumental structures: the al-Aqsa Mosque, the Dome of the Rock and the Dome of the Chain. Walls dating back to the late Byzantine and early Islamic periods cut through the flanks of the Mount. It can be ascended via four gates, with guard posts of Israeli police in the vicinity of each.

Biblical scholars have often identified it with two biblical mountains of uncertain location: Mount Moriah where the story of the binding of Isaac is set, and Mount Zion where the original Jebusite fortress stood; however, both interpretations are disputed.

According to Jewish tradition and scripture (2 Chronicles 3:1-2), the first temple was built by King Solomon the son of King David in 957 BC and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC. The second was constructed under the auspices of Zerubbabel in 516 BC and destroyed by the Roman Empire in AD 70.

Afterwards the site remained undeveloped for six centuries, until the Arab conquest. Jewish tradition maintains it is here the Third and final Temple will also be built.

Among Sunni Muslims, the Mount is widely considered the third holiest site in Islam. Revered as the Noble Sanctuary and the location of Muhammad's journey to Jerusalem and ascent to heaven, the site is also associated with Jewish biblical prophets who are also venerated in Islam. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in 637 CE, Umayyad Caliphs commissioned the construction of the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on the site. The Dome was completed in AD 692.

The Al Aqsa Mosque rests on the far southern side of the Mount, facing Mecca. The Dome of the Rock currently sits in the middle, occupying or close to the area where the Bible mandates the Holy Temple be rebuilt.

There is also a smaller domed building on the upper platform, slightly to the east of the Dome of the Rock, known as the Dome of the Chain — traditionally the location where a chain once rose to heaven. The Dome of the Chain owes its name to an ancient legend during King Solomon's rule. Among the wonders of the Holy House is the chain, which Solomon, son of David, suspended between Heaven and Earth, to the east of the Rock, where the Dome of the Chain now stands. The chain had one characteristic. If two men approached it to solve a point of litigation, only the honest and upright man could take hold of it; the unjust man saw it move out of his reach. The building in Islamic tradition is the spot where Judgment Day will occur in the "end of days" and where a chain will stop the sinful and let the just pass through.

Because of Muslim control of the Temple Mount, archaeologists are prevented from working on the site. Consequently scholars lack evidence for determining the precise location of the first and second Temples.

The Dome of the Tablets (aka Dome of the Spirits) was built over what was thought to have been the resting place of The Ark of the Covenant. It was later theorized that the location was actually beneath the Foundation Stone under the Dome of the Rock. Asher Kaufman has theorized that the Holy of Holies originally was located not under the Dome of the Rock but under the Dome of the Tablets (aka Dome of the Spirits). According to the Mishnah, the High Priest stood on the Mt. of Olives, and while looking towards the Holy of Holies, he would sacrifice the Red Heifer and sprinkle the blood in its direction.

A-Aqsa Mosque

Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Chain - According to traditiom, King Solomon would test witnesses by having them hold the chain here. Those who would lie would be struck by lightning through the chain while those who spoke the truth would leave unharmed.

A short distance from Temple Mount was the Pool of Bethesda and St Anne's Church
Rev Quek's Notes:


The ruins of the twin pools lay in the north side of the old city, close to the Lions gate. These pools supplied water to the temple during the times of the first and second temple. The two pools were connected with a central dike that separated the pools in the center, splitting them to a northern and southern pool. Around the pools were columns. The area of the twin pools was large – 120x50mx15m deep. In AD 44, Herod Agrippa constructed a new wall, which blocked the water entirely, and so the pools were converted for other use. There are references in the Old Testament to the "upper pool" (2 Kgs 18:17, Isa 7:3; 362), which may have been the name of the northern pool.

Adjacent to the pools were baths and a healing centre. John 5 tells about the miraculous healing of a paralyzed man by Jesus, which was bathing in the waters among a multitude of invalid people. The text describes the pools as "having five porches", which were excavated at the site.

Until the 5th C the area was used as a baths centre, and its waters were famous for its healing powers, and were the source of its name - Beth-Hesda - the "house of mercy/grace". The site was also named "sheep pool", perhaps since the sheep that was sacrificed in the temple was washed in these waters. This use of the water to purify the sacrifice may have given the waters their perceived healing powers.

A Byzantine basilica was built over parts of the pools. The Crusaders built a small chapel over its ruins. It was believed the site to be the birthplace of Anne, grandmother of Jesus. The French constructed the Church of Saint Anne, at the south east corner of the site, leaving the ancient ruins untouched.

Pool of Bethesda

St Anne's Church

Lion Gate

Next, we walked to the Garden Tomb

Rev Quek's Notes:

The Garden Tomb is a rock-cut tomb in Jerusalem which was unearthed in 1867 and has subsequently been considered by some Christians to be the site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus. The Garden Tomb is adjacent to a rocky escarpment which since the mid-nineteenth century has been proposed by some scholars to be Golgotha (Skull Hill) in contradistinction to the traditional site where the death and resurrection of Christ are believed to have occurred has been the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at least since the fourth century.

Since 1894 the Garden Tomb and its surrounding gardens have been maintained as a place of Christian worship and reflection by a Christian non-denominational charitable trust based in the United Kingdom named The Garden Tomb (Jerusalem) Association.

According to the Bible Jesus was crucified near by the city of Jerusalem, outside its walls. In 1841 a very influential publication argued against the authenticity of the traditional location ie at the Holy Sepulchre. Dr. Edward Robinson’s “Biblical Researches in Palestine” concluded that: “Golgotha and the Tomb shown in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are not upon the real places of the Crucifixion and Resurrection” because he concluded that the traditional location would have been within the city walls also during the Herodian era, primarily due to topographical considerations.

He did suggest that the crucifixion would have taken place somewhere on the road to Jaffa or the road to Damascus. (Golgotha is located in close proximity to the Damascus road, about 200m from Damascus gate).


Golgotha (Skull Hill)


Garden Tomb - empty tomb - Christ is risen!!

Rev Quek administered the Lord's supper here

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