Holy Land Pilgrimage and Biblical Archeology



ARE THEY NOT IN YOUR BOOK?"                PSALM 56

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's rejoice in Jerusalem where Jesus wept

David was no crybaby.  He had courage, audacity and vision.  Yet, when he was in deep distress, he wasn't ashamed to shed tears.  When David fled Jerusalem in the wake of the revolt of his son Absalom, David ascended the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot with his head covered.  "And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up." (Second Samuel 15:30)
The Mount of Olives and the Church of Dominus Flevit

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The Mount of Olives today with Dominus Flevit (the Lord wept) in the center

The revolt fizzled when Absalom's long curly locks got caught in a terebinth tree as his mule pranced forward.  David's major general Joab finished him off by hurling a spear through his heart.  When David heard the news he wept once again, crying "O my son Absalom – my son, my son Absalom. If only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!"
Absalom's Tomb in the Kidron Valley below the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Absalom's Tomb in the Kidron Valley below the Mount of Olives

Roughly one thousand years later, Jesus made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem along the very same route of David's retreat.  As Biblical geographer Jay Baggett puts it, "Whereas David's journey on this section of road had been marked by widespread weeping, heads covered in sorrow, robes and cloaks torn in grief, Jesus' followers were exuberant, lining the roadway with their cloaks and palm branches – making a smooth path so unlike the one the barefoot David walked."
Palm branches on a tree grown from a 2,000 year old date pit

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Palm branches on a tree grown from a 2,000-year-old date pit

And the boisterous crowds shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"  (Matthew 21:9) Hosanna, or in Hebrew, Hoshiya Na means "deliver us."  The cheering crowds were greeting Jesus as King and Redeemer.
In the midst of this pandemonium, probably midway down the mount, Jesus stopped and looked at the city.  Before him was a tall gleaming white marble sanctuary topped by gold spikes (to keep the pigeons from littering), anchored in the largest temple plaza of the ancient world.
Model of the Second Temple courtyard and sanctuary

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Model of the Second Temple courtyard and sanctuary

Then Jesus wept. In a dirge that mirrored David's for his rebellious murdered son, Jesus cried, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…" (Matthew 23:37)
We remember this event at the modern chapel of Dominus Flevit (meaning "the Lord wept") on the Mount of Olives.  The church, built in 1954, was designed by an Italian architect in the shape of a teardrop.
Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Church of Dominus Flevit on the Mount of Olives

On the four corners supporting the dome, the architect put sculpted urns to catch the teardrops.  Tear bottles were fairly common in Rome around the first century AD. Female mourners filled small glass bottles up to four inches in height with tears and placed them in burial tombs as symbols of respect for the deceased.
Ancient Roman tear bottles about to be examined by a prospective buyer

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Ancient Roman "tear bottles" about to be examined by a prospective buyer

Sometimes women were even paid to cry into these glass vessels, as they walked along the mourning procession.  Those crying the loudest with the most tears received the most compensation, or so legend goes.  The more anguish and tears produced, the more important and valued the deceased person was perceived to be.
As Jesus approached the city, he wept, saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side….: (Luke 19:41+)

The descent on Palm Sunday Road

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The green arrows above and below show the descent on "Palm Sunday Road"

The traditional Palm Sunday Road passes by Dominus Flevit

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The traditional Palm Sunday Road passes by Dominus Flevit

In this case Jesus followed David's footsteps in reverse. David fled the city in defeat, whereas Jesus entered the city in triumph. Jesus (and his followers) remembered David's first triumph in Jerusalem, that is, David conquered the city despite the taunts of the Jebusites who shouted "You shall not come in here, for the blind and the lame will repel you." (Second Samuel 5:6)  It is not a coincidence that when Jesus entered Jerusalem; he made a point to heal specifically the lame and also the blind.
When you come on pilgrimage to Jerusalem – don't put it off! -- be sure to descend the Mount of Olives where Jesus wept over the city.  And we'll sing on "Palm Sunday Road" where the crowds cheered Hosanna.to the son of David.

Copyright 2016 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


View onto Jerusalem from Dominus Flevit

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View onto Jerusalem from Dominus Flevit

"Let's rejoice where Jesus wept" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" please contact Gila. 
Postscript from Robert Miller from Gorebridge, Scotland: 
Just a little note of thanks for your article on Jesus weeping over the city of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41)  I have always linked the incident of David crossing the brook Kidron, weeping as he went as he fled from Absalom with the verse in Hebrews 5:7 “who in the days of his flesh, offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” as the experience of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.

Likewise Jesus had left the upper room and crossed the brook Kidron before entering the garden.  David was fleeing from an erring son, but Jesus as God’s son “being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)  That being the case it is interesting that all the recorded tears of Jesus were on the Mount of Olives, at the grave of Lazarus in Bethany (John 11), the one you refer to at Dominus Flevit (Luke 19) and Gethsemane (Hebrews 5).


SIGN UP for the FREE quarterly e-letter:
"Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights"

Read about Jesus in Galilee by the Cove of the Parables, before he made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
David wept upon hearing the news of the death of his dearest friend Jonathan who fell alongside Jonathan's father Saul, king of Israel.  Read about events leading up to the fateful battle including Saul's visit to the witch of En Dor.
If the holy land is on your bucket list, don't wait too long!  And certainly don't pay attention to the media.  For a not-to-be forgotten half day customized tour of Jerusalem's Old City see book Gila.
More on Jesus' public ministry:

Let's focus on Jesus' Ministry from Mount Arbel

Let's consider whether Jesus ever visited Sepphoris

Holy Land Heroines -- Mary Magdalena

Mt Arbel / Galilean ministry

Sepphoris / hypocrites   

Mary Magdalene

Let's imagine the Passover from Pilate' Praetorium

Let's ramble through Hippos, a Decapolis city

Let's gather by Bethsaida's city gate

Pilate's Praetorium   

Hippos / Decapolis city

Walk 1st C AD Bethsaida




Copyright © 2005-2018 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin