JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

EIN ES-SULTAN or ELISHA'S SPRING-JERICHO. Traditional spring in Jericho whose water the Prophet Elisha made sweet by adding salt (2 Kings 2:19-22).

"18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? 19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city [is] pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water [is] naught, and the ground barren. 20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought [it] to him. 21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren [land]. 22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake" (II Kings 2:18-22).

This perennial spring just opposite to Tel es-Sultan is one of the main reasons why Jericho existed for 10,000 years. Even now the spring is a vital source of water in Jericho. It is most famously identified with the biblical spring mentioned with Prophet Elisha in 2 Kings 2: 19-22. We have written records of the spring from as early as  1st Century AD, by the Jewish Historian Josephus, and from early Christian pilgrimages from 4th Century AD (precisely the "the Bordeaux itinerary" of 333-334 AD). Even a Church on the spot has been reported by Theodosius in 530 AD. The spring is also depicted in the famous 6th Century Madaba Map-all showing the significance of this very ancient source of water.

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