Paul Woehrle

JEWISH QUARTER EXCAVATIONS, WOHL MUSEUM, BURNT HOUSE, WESTERN WALL, CITY OF DAVID, GIHON SPRING, POOL OF SILOAM Plus: The Gates of Jerusalem

Our focus today is the physical setting of Jerusalem from the time of King David to Jesus. Our attention turns first to New Testament Jerusalem as we visit several homes from the time of Jesus that reflect the wealth of the ruling classes, both religious and political. Archaeological foundations of several homes and displays of artifacts provide a glimpse into the life of the privileged in Jerusalem. The first homes to be visited are found in the Wohl Museum followed by a visit to another home known as the Burnt House. Just outside the Old City we arrive at the Old Testament site of Jerusalem -- the City of David. A movie illustrates for us the historical and geographical importance of this Old Testament site. After an overview from a viewing platform and a look at recent excavations we arrive at the Gihon Spring complex that supplied water for the city and for the Pool of Siloam mentioned in John 9. Overnight Jerusalem, Notre Dame. 

Pastor Paul's reflections on the day: (added 21/04/18)

One of the first things a pilgrim does upon entering the Old City of Jerusalem, is to take note of what gate you came through.  The gate of a city is an important place.  It not only serves as a stricture so that who goes in or goes out can be controlled in times of conflict or emergency.  For milennia the gate was also where the court was held and where justice was meted out.  We have seen examples of two-chambered and three-chambered and even six-chambered gates.  See Deuteronomy 25:7; 2 Chronicles 18:9; Psalm 125:7 for examples.  We saw an excavation of where the King sat enthroned in the gate, presiding over hearings.  Gates are important!  

As we toured around Jerusalem and beheld the massive stones, we noticed that some gates that were open and some gates, clearly outlined in the walls, were shut up with limestone blocks.  And so here I have included a survey of Jerusalem's gates, (see 'What was/is the importance of the gates of Jerusalem?' @ www.gotquestions.org)

"The sandstone walls of the Old City of Jerusalem are known for their spectacular rosy-golden glow as the sun rises at dawn, and they exhibit the same beauty in the last hours of daylight just prior to sunset. 

The present city wall was constructed in 1538 AD by the Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magnificent above the ruins of the old 1st century walls that stood when Jesus lived. 

Over the centuries since the 16th century wall was built, eleven gates have guarded the entrances to the nearly three-mile long fortified perimeter of the Old City of Jerusalem and to the most sacred area of the city, Jerusalem's Temple Mount. 

Today only seven of these gates are opened: the Damascus Gate, Herod's Gate, the Lions' Gate, the Dung Gate, the Zion Gate, the Jaffa Gate and the New Gate.

Four of old Jerusalem's gates are no longer open: the Golden Gate, the Single Gate, the Triple Gate (Eastern Huldah Gate) and the Double Gate (Western Huldah Gate).

The four gates whose entry arches are bricked in are all found along the southern and eastern walls of the Temple Mount.  The Temple Mount is the elevation upon which the Jerusalem Temple once stood.  Today that area is occupied by the 7th century AD Moslem shrine known as the Dome of the Rock and by the Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

Not all the gates date from the eras of the ancient city.  The Single Gate was built by the Crusaders in the 12th century AD to provide access to the underground area of the Temple Mount which the Crusaders named "Solomon's Stables."  The New Gate was opened in the northwestern corner of the Old City in 1887 AD to allow access for pilgrims and Church officials to the Christian Quarter of the old city. 

The Double and Triple Huldah Gates were originally built by King Herod during the Second Temple period and were named after the 7th century BC prophetess (2 Kg 22:14-20; 2 Ch 34:22-28).  These gates were located inside the city walls until the Crusader period when part of the wall was demolished, and they were incorporated into the surviving walls of the city.  The Huldah Gates were built to give direct access to the Jerusalem Temple precincts through underground passages.

The Crusader's Single Gate and the Double and Triple Huldah Gates were walled-up in 1187 AD after Moslem General Saladin's conquest of Jerusalem.   The most famous gate is the double-arched Golden Gate.  This gate is located in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount directly across from the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives. 

The Golden Gate that existed in Jesus' time was the gate through which Jesus probably gained access to the city after visiting friends in the village of Bethany, on the Mount of Olives.  It was the gate through which Jesus must have entered the city on Palm Sunday (John 12:12-15), the gate through which He probably exited the city the night of the Last Supper to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt 26:30, 36; Mk 14:26, 32; Lk 22:39; Jn 18:1), and the gate Jesus passed through forty days after His Resurrection (Acts 1:9) when His disciples accompanied Him to the Mount of Olives, the site from which He Ascended to Heaven (Acts 1:9-12).

After Jesus' Ascension, an angel told the Apostles and disciples that Jesus would return in the same way He left (Acts 1:11).  Coupled with the messianic prophecy of Zechariah 14:4 that in the Day of Yahweh's Coming the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, the Church Fathers professed the belief that when Jesus returns He will enter Jerusalem through the Golden Gate.  It was to prevent the fulfillment of these messianic prophecies that Suleiman the Magnificent sealed the portals of the Golden Gate in 1541 AD, and the gate remains sealed to this day.