Chapter 17 of my forthcoming book, “Ahava Adventure – The Four Louis Brothers Trip To Israel”
The journey south was over. Ein Gedi and Qumran had welcomed the adventurous men. The camel ride was checked off the list. It was time for us to head northwest on Highway 1 from the Jordan Valley.
Up to Jerusalem!
Why do we say, “Going up to Jerusalem?” The geographical height difference from the Dead Sea (lowest point on earth) to the seven hills of Jerusalem is over half a mile. These hills are the Mount of Olives, Mount Scopus, Mount of Corruption, Mount Ophel, the Original Mount Zion, the New Mount Zion and the hill on which Abraham obeyed God, climbing up to sacrifice Isaac, on Mount Moriah, on the Foundation Stone.
The First Temple (built by King Solomon in 1000 BC) and the Second Temple (King Herod the Great, being completed around the birth of Jesus) of the Jews were built here also, well over 1700 years before the Muslims built the Dome of the Rock, in 692 A.D. The Third Temple is now in the planning stages, which The Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem has already been making progress on. Close by the Temple Mount, the institute is a fascinating place to tour and see what has already been done.
Thus, you are ascending into the Holy City, the capital of Israel, from any point in Israel. Imagine the hillside climbs Yeshua and His disciples had each time they traveled from the Galilee, their mission base, up to the populated Jewish city. Each Passover (Pesach), Shavuot (Pentecost) and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), they were required by Hashem (God), as Jews, to make the journey 3 times a year to the Temple on the Mount. The Jewish population in the city during feasts grew quite high at these times.
Along the highway you will pass by the Inn of the Good Samaritan on the left, an Arab camel owner and his tourist ride at the Sea Level marker also on the left (but you have to catch them going down from Jerusalem, due to the road barrier in the middle for safety), and several Bedouin camps on both sides, complete with camels, goats, and satellite TV dishes.
By the way, camels aren’t cheap, starting at a low of $1,000 each. Good racing ones start at $55,000. If you want a good wife in the culture, plan on paying 10 camels. Or at least that is the story I have been told!
It was fun saying to the guys, “There is one! Over there is another! Look at that herd and the goats on the hillside!” Of course, the camera shutter went on often. Even for this skilled driver.
After the long but very rewarding day, we entered Jerusalem just around the end of Shabbat, at 6 pm. Knowing where our lodging was at 32 King George Street, being Laurie and I had also stayed there a few months before in May, we got unloaded quickly. The Lord provided a parking spot just a few yards away! And being Shabbat, no parking fee was necessary. And then with Rosh Hashanah’s two-day holiday beginning on Sunday evening, again no parking cost. In Jerusalem, that is indeed a blessing for any car owner or vehicle renter.
Rosh Hashanah, literally meaning “head of the year”, is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for the holiday is Yom Teruah, literally “day of shouting or blasting”. The shofars, rams’ horns and the longer Yemenite trumpets, are blown in the synagogues (shuls) throughout the Land. It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days, specified by the Lord Himself, as one of His feasts, given in Leviticus 23:23–32.
Knowing that our place of stay for the next five nights, wonderfully located in the heart of Jerusalem, had two bedrooms and two couches (on a fold-out sleeper), I had already committed to taking one couch. Greg and David were given the honor of having private rooms. I had already alerted Lathan ahead of time so that he knew he would be “bunking” with me again. It was good his head and feet could be stretched out each night on the red one with no sidearms.
It was a great night temperature wise to head out after settling in, which is one reason I really enjoy the spring and late fall seasons of going to Israel. With Shabbat ending, once again the shop owners on Ben Yehuda Street, two blocks from where we were, opened up for people like us, and the locals.
“Shalom Avraham! Good to see you again!” I spoke to my Jewish Iranian friend Avraham Saiden, when I greeted him in his Dan & David Shop at 19 Ben Yehuda. He had made aliyah in the early 1960s from Iran. His other Judaica gift shop on the same block corner, Jerusalem Golden, has also been owned and operated by him and his wife Panina, sons Dan and David, and daughter Dahlia for decades.
It was in their home that I had my first Orthodox Jewish Shabbat meal, and night stayover, while on tour with Christian Friends of Israel (Director Hannele Pardain) in 2006, while on the CFI-USA board. Helping Avraham make a mobile phone call to Johns Island, back to the USA in South Carolina after he had attempted many times, made me his friend forever.
The invite to dinner came within the next few minutes after the successfully completed connection. Our friendship connection has been very special ever since.
I once asked Avraham why his wife was so much younger than he. His simple reply, “So she can take care of me in my old age.” A wise man!
Our good pastor Dr. Peter Wyns had asked us to bring back several items for his Antioch International Church Olive Press gift shop, so we went next to Danny Boy’s gift shop. He has been another Jewish friend from two decades ago. Danny Boy, whom I yet to see have another helper at his location, said he could fill our shopping list completely, after giving him two days after the holiday was over to gather all items together. Great!
And then Uri, owner of Shkalim Fashion, the best supplier of hoodies, IDF replica jackets, and logo t-shirts for both young and old (many have been worn now by my grandchildren and others) on Ben Yehuda Street, always greets us with a grand smile and warm hug. I introduced him to Greg, David, and Lathan, each getting a hug and special pricing too. For real.
If I just had five days to spend in Israel, all five of them would be spent here, in the capital city, the Golden City, the City of David, the home of the USA Embassy and the wonderful Old City. It is here, the city of Jerusalem, Yerushalayim. According to resources, and the Jewish Midrash, Jerusalem has 70 names. Lists have been compiled of 72 different Hebrew names for Jerusalem in Jewish scripture.
My favorite name for Jerusalem is City of God. When Yeshua returns the second time, the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach, He will set up His throne in His holy city, where His Name is seen on the hills from the heavens.
On the YouTube channel of Angel TV, they have a remarkable documentary video entitled, “Jerusalem – I Will Put My Name There – Amazing Revelations” (March 27, 2012).
They write in the description, “the remarkable letter “Shin” in the Hebrew alphabet, the 21st letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is pronounced like “Sheen”. It is the one letter the Hebrew people chose ages ago to represent the unspeakable name of the one and only God “YAHWEH”.
This letter holds great significance to the Hebrew people. It is printed for a mezuzah, containing a scroll of parchment with Biblical text written on it. It is the Scripture prayer box that is mounted on the doorposts and door frames of every Jewish home. Contained within this box is the Scripture portion from Deuteronomy 6:4 also known as “Shema” in Hebrew and “To Hear” in English. It says ” Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord”.
The Shin letter is shaped much like the English letter w or perhaps v. In the old biblical map of Jerusalem, there are three significant valleys named Kidron, Hinnon, and Tyropean. These valleys converge to also form the shape of the letter shin, and the Temple in Jerusalem was located there.
David had conquered this area and set it as his capital city. God had said to him, “This is the place where I have put My name (I Kings 11:56). The city of Jerusalem sits on the top of the Name of God. That city is also made of three mountains – Moriah, Ophel and Zion. They form one mountain with three different hills, as is our One God with three different Persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Ophel – Our Fortress, Our Stronghold Yahweh, Our Father God
Zion – The mark that means our God the Holy Spirit.
Moriah -To see God or to be seen of God. It is Jesus Christ, God the Son.
A great day ended with a good night. We looked forward to Sunday, our first full day in the Lord’s city.