Sing: Blest Be the Tie That Binds, UMH 557
Today we are going into the heart of Jerusalem: The Old City. The Old City is defined by the wall that surrounds it. The wall we see today was built by the Ottoman Turks in 1540 AD. In some places it was built on top of the older walls. In some places it was extended outward from the older walls. In some places it was brought in from the older walls. In fact the oldest part of Jerusalem, the City of David, which King David captured from the Jebusites a thousand years before Christ, is not within today’s wall.
Since David’s capture of the original Jebusite city there have been five major expansions of the city walls: during the 10th, 8th, 2nd, and 1st centuries BC and the 1st century AD. The two major contractions of the walls came with the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the earthquake of 1033 AD.
Inside the wall The Old City is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Christian, Armenian, and Muslim. The practice of dividing the city into quarters goes back to the days when Jerusalem was destroyed and rebuilt as a Roman city in 130 AD. The Romans built in the form of their military camps – with two main streets, one running north and south and the other running east and west, meeting in the middle.
These quarters are separated only by a line on a map and it is easy to move from one quarter to another; as easy as walking across a narrow street. The Muslim Quarter is the largest and includes the northeast corner down to the north end of the Western Wall, west to the Damascus Gate, and all of the Temple Mount. The Christian Quarter is second in size and includes the northwest corner east to the Damascus Gate and south to the Joppa Gate. The Jewish and Armenian Quarters are about the same size and occupy the southern side of the city and are divide by Habad Street which roughly follows the ancient Roman north/south street.
There is a different feeling in The Old City. Whether that feeling comes from entering through the narrow gates, crossing through the wall, or by what lies inside, or by a combination of all three I am not sure. The narrow streets and alleyways of the city reminded me of being in Astroworld, an old theme park in Houston. At Astroworld I had learned my way through the short-cuts but in The Old City of Jerusalem I was always on the verge of being lost. I would like to go back to The Old City some day and stay long enough to lose the feeling of being lost. If it does not happen in this lifetime then it will in the next when we will be residents of The New Jerusalem.