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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

churches, churches everywhere

No way to start the day but with a tomb, right?  We got to see/climb/explore this 1st century tomb - same kind in which Jesus would have been laid.  In Jesus' time, the body of the deceased would be prepared on those benches in the middle, then slid into one of the cubbyholes.  Life and death were a family affair, so your relatives would be in the other cubbyholes.  Which is actually kind of wonderful - forever with all your family members.  Community in life and death.  Much cozier and a lot less morbid.  Is it weird to call a tomb cozy?  Maybe so.

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So there are lots of places in Israel that are very special to us Christians (but I bet you already knew that).  And when the place is special, Christians like to build a church.  Particularly those Byzantine Christians.  Particularly Constantine's mom.  So. Many. Byzantine. Churches.  If it wasn't a Byzantine church, there were remnants of the former Byzantine church under the current church.

Some of these memory churches, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which I've already shared, are in the correct location.  Others, well... they're in the "traditional" location.  Either way, we visited a ton of churches, and remembered the stories they commemorate.  I've heard these stories all my life, but there is no experience like being on site. Or on the "traditional" site.  Close enough.


In case the day wasn't full enough, we also went to the Herodium, Herod the Great's palace/fortress complex outside of Jerusalem.  Let me tell you, the man could build a palace.  He moved half of one hill to the top of another because that hill just wasn't tall enough for his palace on it's own.  The Herodium had a huge swimming pool with an island, a banquet hall, a bathhouse, a huge courtyard for entertaining - luxurious and ostentatious.

I'm going to have to buy some earplugs so all this knowledge doesn't leak out of my ears.

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