Friday, February 15, 2013

The Israel Museum


The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel 
and is ranked among the world's leading art and archaeology museums.  
Founded in 1965, the Museum contains works dating from pre-history 
to the present day and features the most extensive holdings of 
biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.  
While the galleries and artifacts were interesting (including works from Picasso 
and Rodin), the highlight for us was seeing the Model of Jerusalem in the 
Second Temple Period.   In the picture above, the Temple Mount is shown 
along with its massive courtyard.  The Holy of Holies is in the middle and 
the red roofed long building is the Basilica.  Theoretically, we are 
viewing the temple from the east side and from the  Mount of Olives.
This massive model reconstructs the topography and architectural character of Jerusalem as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 70 A.D. (although 66 A.D. is the actual recreation date.) Pictured above is the gold-trimmed Holy of Holies and inner areas of the Temple Mount.  
The model is 50:1 and covers nearly one acre.  It shows Jerusalem at its peak, meticulously recreating the grandeur of the city.   The Antonia Fortress is shown to the right of the Temple Mount. 
The model was based on three main sources of information: 1) Literary works, especially the books of Josephus, the Mishnah & Talmud and the Gospels  2) Ancient cities similar to Jerusalem  3) Archaeological discoveries in Jerusalem itself.  The photo above shows the Upper City, which was a wealthy area of Jerusalem.  The Theatre is located on the left at the middle edge of the picture.    
This is a picture of lower Jerusalem, which was a residential area.  The buildings closer to the front are representative of the City of David.   The larger buildings to the far left (front) are the Adiabene Palaces, part of the City of David.   
The square 'pool' shows the Tomb of Alexander Jannaeus (King of Judea from 103 B.C.to 76 B.C.).  The Theodotos Synagogue is  the red roofed building pictured in the front middle. The synagogue was built as a place to study and to recite the law and the commandments.  It was also a hostel for weary Jewish travelers.  
This is the Western Wall of the Temple Mount.   The first arch is Robinson's Arch (also pictured here at the Jerusalem Archaeological Park).  The back arch (closed) is Wilson's Arch.  The top portion of Wilson's arch can still be seen today at the Western Wall.  
The Kidron Valley separates the Mount of Olives from the Temple Mount
 and continues east through the Judean Desert.  
This is a side view of Upper and Lower Jerusalem.  Upper Jerusalem is identified by the red rooftops on the larger homes.  David's tomb is a pointed tower on the left side right in front of the red roofed buildings.  
The red roofed building with two smaller towers is the Hasmonean (Maccabean) Royal Palace. The Hasmoneans were kings who ruled Israel before Jesus' time.  This palace was later used by Herod, providing a magnificent view of the Temple Mount.
  
The Citadel and the Towers are pictured in the foreground.  The 
Antonia Fortress is on the right side in the background.      
One of the many gates to the Old City of Jerusalem is pictured above.  
Some sources say that this may be the Old Jaffa Gate.  
This is another view of the Antonia Fortress from the ground level.  
The lower area in front of the Fortress is the Pool of Israel. 
The Temple Mount is shown from 'street' level right outside of the walls.  
 What an incredible exhibit! 
Another highlight for us was the campus of the Shrine of the Book (also part of the Israel Museum) which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world.  
The building shape looks like a space ship!  The dome covers a structure which is two-thirds below ground level and the building is reflected in a pool of water which surrounds it.  
The inside was absolutely AMAZING! In the very middle of the 
building stands a large scroll with the actual book of Isaiah underneath the glass.     
The Great Isaiah Scroll is one of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947.  
 It is the largest and best preserved of all of the biblical scrolls.    
  The columns contain all 66 chapters of the Hebrew version of the Book of Isaiah.  This manuscript is also one of the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls - over 1000 years older than the oldest manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible known to us.  
About 20 additional copies of Isaiah were also found at Qumran as well as 6 commentaries.   The scriptural status of the Book of Isaiah is consistent with the beliefs of the community living in Qumran.   Isaiah was known for his prophecies of consolation and judgement along with his visions of the end of days and the coming of the kingdom of God. 
Between the Model of Old Jerusalem and viewing some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, our visit to the Israel Museum really allowed history to come alive for us!  What an experience!  

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