We start with Mass in a Franciscan chapel built on the site of the Last Supper. Then Dormition Abbey where the Virgin Mary is said to have died – the eternal sleep and her Ascension. Hagia Sion remains of St Peter, built in the Byzantine period. Jesus reappears to the Disciples here after his Resurrection and Mary is with them. Also Acts 15, the Apostles hold their first council appointing James, brother of Jesus as Bishop. This is the New Zion. End of the temple practice and start of the 2nd Covenant Church. We visit the Upper Room built by the Crusaders. It is retained by Israel since 1948. We are standing in this Holy Christian Place in awe!!!
Below we enter the Tomb of David according to Medieval tradition and see the Sephardic Synagogue of Mt. Zion established in 1948 during the War of Independence. There are extremist (orthodox) Jews living and praying here. There is a large group of young Israeli militia. All is calm and respectful.
We drive to Samaria north of Jerusalem. We visit the Old Testament site of Shilo (pronounced Sheelo), the first capital of the 12 tribes of Israel. We are in Ephram. A battle occurred here between the Israelites and Cananites. The Ark of the Covenant was here for 369 years. We see a hologram describing the ancient tabernacle – a portable temple that contained the Ark. Inside the Ark were the broken and unbroken stone tablets with the Law of Moses inscribed. The Ark was lost to the Philestines in a later war who likely destroyed it.
We are in the ‘C’ section of the West Bank which is under Israeli control. Sections A and B are under Palestinian Authority control. These territories are not contiguous and are all mixed together. There are quite a number of Jewish settlements in between Palestinian towns. Our guide who is packing a pistol, says both communities are thriving here thanks to Israeli management. The UN has declared Israeli settlements like this to be illegal. There are a lot of restrictions on people movement.
We see a movie about Hanah’s prayer to Eli the High Priest, for a child. The concept of prayer is born. Samuel was born to her who helped reunite the 12 tribes.
We drive to the large Palestinian city of Nablus. We visit Jacob’s well where the Samaritan woman encounters Jesus. A Greek Orthodox Church is built over it. It is the real well and we buy water samples. As we sit outside we hear the Muslim call to worship as a feral cat walks by. As we drive out, everything is under construction, the buildings, the street, the statehood. This is all part of the Holy Land!
We stop for a treat – Palestinian Knaphel – a flat honeyed cake topped with pistachio pieces and that has a doughy texture. Yum! We are the only tour bus in Nablus, a special treat as Sammy is not a Jew and can go everywhere freely.