Walking on Old Jerusalem’s narrow streets

23rd Nov, 2016

It was exactly 9pm on September 24 when our airplane touched down at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. I gave thanks to God for allowing me to set foot on the Holy Land and get to experience what I had been reading in the Bible for several years.

We were attending a week-long innovation festival in Israeli’s city of Tel Aviv and visiting the old city of Jerusalem was part of the programme.

I was eager to set foot on the Old Jerusalem City and also walk on the paths Jesus walked on during His ministry on earth.

Jerusalem is about 72 kilometres from Tel Aviv and it is considered a holy city where most people would want to visit due to its glorious history and story of the Church.

The first place I visited was Israel’s ancient port city known as Jaffa, also known as Joppa in Arabic. This city is associated with biblical stories of Peter, Jonah and Solomon. The present day Jaffa comprises a series of ancient buildings, including synagogues. People do business in the Old Jaffa located on the coastal line of the Mediterranean Sea.

History has it that Japheth, one of Noah’s sons, built the port after the great floods. This is why the place is considered sacred by the Jews. As I walked around the Old Jaffa, I remembered the story of King Solomon who built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, and he transported the cedar he used to build the temple from Lebanon through this same port.

Imagining the story of Jonah who was swallowed by a whale when he fled from the presence of the Lord through the port was nostalgic. Jonah who fled to Tarshish went down to Joppa where he found a ship going to Tarshish.

As I watched sailors navigate through the Mediterranean Sea from the highest point of the Old Jaffa port, I could imagine how the sailors in the ship where Jonah was on board were hit by the great winds before they threw him into the sea where he was swallowed by a whale and survived in its belly for three days.

My next stop at the port was the point where the house of the biblical Simon the tanner was stationed. The writings entitled the “Gate of the Ancient World” read: “Various Christian traditions tell the story of Simon the Tanner, who lived in this house and hosted Peter the Apostle here. It was here that Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and saw his famous vision in which he was commanded to eat animals regarded as unclean in Jewish tradition. When he refused, he heard a voice saying, ‘What God has cleansed you must not call common’… This was a historic turning point in which Christianity evolved from what was considered an esoteric sect of Judaism to a worldwide religion.”

The journey to Jerusalem was exciting. We enjoyed natural beauty, undulating hills and serene nature of flora and fauna.

In the old city of Jerusalem, we were able to walk through the paths Jesus walked on His way to the cross. We also visited the Western Wall or the Wailing Wall and the ancient buildings.

The streets of the old city are narrow. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is considered the place where Jesus’ tomb is located, you must be ready to endure long queues of Christians and pilgrims from around the world who visit the place.

The gate, which leads to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is known as the Lion’s Gate. It is believed that St Stephen, the first martyr, was stoned here by the Jews who accused him of blasphemy.

Visiting the Western Wall where God appeared to King Solomon and told him to ask anything he wanted was a solemn moment for me. The Jews around the world pray at the wall, which has different areas for men and women.

People write their prayer requests and stick them on the wall. I wrote my mine and stuck them on the wall, hoping they would be answered.

Niko Waks

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