Today was hard. Not because of the stress of the walk or the amount of activity we did. We went to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial. The word "yad" means hand normally but can also refer to the place someone is. Vashem means name. The name Yad Vashem is a reference to Isaiah 56:4-5 where God says He will give them a "place and a name" in His house. It is so we will never forget and so the 6 million victims (including 1 1/2 million children) will never be forgotten. I won't try to describe it. We lingered two and half hours, reading, listening, quietly weeping. The memorial is designed such that when you exit the main hall of remembrance you come out onto a terrace with the view of the picture below. It gives a different picture and feeling. Out of death, God brings life.
We then made the short hop over to the Israel Museum where we saw the Dead Sea scrolls and the four acre model of first century Jerusalem. It is amazing to think that we were viewing copies of our Scriptures that date back over 2000 years. In fact, one piece of a Gospel of John dates back to 135 AD, just 30 years after John died. Wow. And when you read the full scroll of Isaiah that they found and then read the book of Isaiah in a Hebrew Bible today you will find them exact. God preserved His Word.
The model of Jerusalem gave us a different picture, one that helped us "see" where we had visited and understand what we had looked at when we viewed the ruins of arches and foundation stones. Different pictures can aid our understanding and this certainly did.
Following lunch we made our way to a shepherd's field across from but on the outskirts of Bethlehem. We first were shown an ancient well that is used today to water the animals. As we walked to the top of the small hill above the well to view Bethlehem, the Muslim call to prayer suddenly echoed through the valleys in front of us. Bethlehem was once 86% Christian, but today is only 5%-6% Christian. We saw caves and watchtowers in these fields like those that greeted our Savior the night He was born.
Today was Friday, and we sent Nir and Shlome on their way early so they could get home for Shabbat. We also said goodbye to Sandersons, our new friends from Guernsey, England who joined with us since we arrived at the Scots in Tiberius. A number of us then headed to the Old City to fulfill the 11th commandment (to shop and invest in the local Israeli economy). Here are some pictures from today.