17 January 2012

Pools of Bethesda & The Muslim Quarter

On our last day in Israel, we spent the day wandering various spots in Jerusalem. One of these spots was the Pools of Bethesda. Prior to my trip to Israel, I didn't really know what the significance of the Pools of Bethesda was, but I still enjoyed visiting the location - and the great part about this trip was the fact that we always had a mini Bible study at every location to understand what took place here and the biblical significance. Here, we learned how the disabled would come here as tradition held that at certain times, an angel come and stir the waters. Whoever would enter into the stirred waters first would be healed. One day, Jesus came to the pools and a paralyzed man (for 38 years!) told him that others would always reach the water before him, leaving him unhealed. Jesus proceeded to heal the man - at this very spot.

Ruins of the Pools of Bethesda

Next to the Pools of Bethesda was St. Anne's Church, which was constructed between 1131 and 1138. It is believed that it stands on the spot where the parents of the virgin Mary lived. The supposed remains of their house are in the crypt. We stopped in here briefly to sing a few songs (taking advantage of the acoustics!), eventually being challenged by the call to prayer echoing throughout the city.

Inside St. Anne's Church

Our next stop was the Muslim Quarter where we walked by St. Stephen's Gate, which was named after the Christian martyr St. Stephen who may have been executed here.  We also had a chance to see the Via Delarosa, which is the path where Jesus walked, toward his crucifixion. We also went to a place called "Ecce Homo" which translates as "Behold the man" in Latin. Here there were all kinds of underground pools and tunnels, as well as evidence of the "games" Romans used to play, as they did on Jesus. These games consisted of making someone up as royalty all the while making fun of them and beating them. Heavy stuff, indeed!

Entrance to the Dome of the Rock...non-Muslims were not allowed

                    Inside Ecce Homo

A short video clip of our group singing inside St. Anne's Church:

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