Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1967

The Jenkins-Wallace Tour No. 4

Wm. E. Wallace

On the road back to Jerusalem we drove past Rachael's tomb and the alleged spot where Philip baptized the eunuch - "Philip's Fountain". We saw "Solomon's Pools" which supplied water to Jerusalem since Roman times and perhaps before. Moving along the road we could see Frank Mountain in the distance. This is where the ruins of the palace or Herodium of Herod the Great are. He is likely buried up there under all those ruins. Throughout Palestine we were confronted with the building projects of Herod the Great - the ruins of those projects, that is. "Herodian-stones" became a key-word in our vocabulary. What a builder Herod was! His life was wrecked, and his buildings too.

On the morrow we motored down through the Jordan Ghor up the other side through barren hills, and then very suddenly we entered the green, fertile plains of Moab where Israel encamped (Nu. 21:20; 22:1). We were on the plains in the area near where Elimelech and Naomi sojourned with their boys in time of famine. Even in this day these plains serve as a refuge for those fleeing from famine. These verdant fields appeared quite appealing to us after the drive through the desolation around the Dead Sea.

On to the top of Nebo we climbed and here we viewed the land of Palestine as Moses did. Though the view was hampered a little by haze, we could see far away over the land of milk and honey; we could see the winding green valley of Jordan between barrenness - and our imaginations were enriched by seeing all this where Moses saw it; as he saw it.

Nearby at Madeba we saw the 5th century Byzantine mosaic map uncovered on the floor of an old church. This map has proven significant in locating ancient sites in Palestine. This early map reflects the early attempts to locate Bible places.

From Nebo to the lowest point on earth: We stood on the shores of the Dead Sea - the lowest point on earth - 1300 feet below sea level at the surface. Here we came to appreciate more than ever the Bible word "desolation". We drove over to Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. The Essenes, who lived and worked in ascetic life in well arranged accommodations for daily needs and scribal service, fled Qumran when Roman armies approached. Before they fled they stored their library in nearby caves. In 1947 a Bedouin shepherd boy accidentally found some scroll jars while searching for a lost goat. This find proved to be a major event for biblical scholarship and archeology. For those of us who had done considerable study about Qumran, this was a high point of the trip.

From Qumran we made our way up to Jericho. There are three Jericho's: the modern city, the one which Christ knew (build by Herod the Great), and the ancient Canaanite city which the Israelites destroyed. We drove through the beautiful and fruitful modern Jericho oasis to the ruins of the old city at Elisha's fountain (II Kings 2:19-22). The archeologists have done much here in uncovering signs of various communities dating back beyond the days of Israel's conquest of Jericho. But they have only made a start - greater excavations at this site need to be made.

We stopped on the Jordan near the area of Bethabara (John 1:28) at a place at least very near the spot where Jesus was baptized. The Jordan here is very muddy and swift. I thought of the contrast between the river here and the river Abana we saw in Damascus. I thought of Naaman's attitude (I Kings 5:12). Our group sang "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand", and it was impressive even though we were standing on the wrong side!

Back in Jerusalem we trekked through the streets to see those sites which are under sectarian control. And under they are. Many of the things to be seen are several feet under the present Jerusalem level, on the level of the Jerusalem of Jesus' day. The Catholics - Orthodox and Roman - have built their churches over most of the recognizable places.

The pool called Bethsaida where Jesus healed the lame man (John 5:1-6) has been located and excavated. We viewed the pool, which is really a double pool, where people came to receive the benefit of healing waters.

Next we gazed over the stones left of the Praetorian where Jesus appeared before Pontius Pilate. A large stone pavement more than 150 feet square, is apparently the very pavement or Gabbatha mentioned in John 19:13 in connection with the sentence of death pronounced on Jesus.

There is a "Via Dolorosa" route through Jerusalem which is purported to be the "way of the cross", the way Jesus was led to the place of crucifixion. Pfeiffer's judgment on this point is sufficient here: "The real Via Dolorosa is deep beneath the present one and probably follows a different course."

It was significant to us that a Catholic nun admitted that the Ecco Homo arch which the Catholic Church formerly taught to be the very place where Pilate exclaimed, "Behold The Man", has been found to be a later construction of the Hadrian period.

There are two "calvarys' to be viewed in Jerusalem. The traditional sites of the crucifixion and the tomb are under the sprawling Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site seems to be the authentic one, although "In the present Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the elevated rock pointed out as Golgotha and the tomb under the rotunda of the ancient structure almost lose the interest of the western pilgrim because of garnish adornments of gold, crosses, relics, lights and the unrealistic stories told to tourists. " How true this is! We saw people rubbing their hands over the stone on which Jesus' body was supposed to have rested while being washed for burial. They then rubbed their hands over their bodies. Some took belongings from their pockets and rubbed over the stone. One man touched his packet of cigarettes on the "sacred stone" and returned it to his pocket.

As to this shrine, "For almost a thousand years three major churches and three of their offshoots have contended for custody of the various parts of the shrine." It is explained further, "At sundown when the Jordanian doorkeeper locks up the church, the priests and monks retire to their respective quarters: the Greek Orthodox above the Rock of Golgotha; the Roman Catholics behind the Latin Chapel; the Armenians near the Atrium; the Abyssinians in bamboo huts on the roof; the Syrians and Copts to monasteries outside the basilica's walk". What a mess.

There are arguments for the place called Gordon's Calvary. It offers a more serene and comfortable environment. But as to the locale, the evidence favors the site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

I viewed both sites and I wish that the Gordon site were the right one, but it seems the other is likely the place in spite of the ecclesiastical desecration. Early one morning I walked among the Moslem graves on Gordon's Calvary, wishfully thinking that I might be treading the very ground of the crucifixion.

Neither site is guaranteed by irrefutable evidence. It is a matter of probability, and the site under The Church of The Holy Sepulchre has the edge.

Moslems have control of the old temple site. The place where Solomon's temple stood, and later that of Herod, is now covered by the elaborate mosque, The Dome of The Rock. There is probably no mosque equal to this one in beauty. It is second only to Mecca in importance to Muslims. It is built over the very rock which was the threshing floor of Araunah Sam. 24:18-25). Some believe this is the Mt. Moriah where Abraham offered Isaac. One thing is sure - this is where the temple stood.

We were taken to the "wailing wall" of the Jews, composed of the stones from the Herodian period (Luke 21:5). Here Jews formerly prayed for the return of this land to the Hebrews. They wrote notes to God and inserted them in the cracks between the stones. When the Jordanians found the notes they didn't take very kindly to Jews coming here to pray, so it has been twenty years since Jews have crossed over to pray, with the exception of Senator Javits of New York and his son. President Kennedy arranged this visit by the Javits'.