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.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tel Lachish-site of ancient biblical city of Lachish. Photos taken from a moving Egged Bus.

Lachish is one of the most strategic cities mentioned in Bible and sometimes considered even second to Jerusalem in biblical Israel. It protected one of the approaches to Jerusalem. Lachish is mentioned 24 times in the KJV bible. Biblical association of Lachish starts when Joshua conquers it from the Canaanites (Joshua 10:3). Canaanites built Lachish as one of the mightiest cities in Israel with a wall, ramp and a moat. Later the Assyrian King Sennacherib conquered Lachish in 701 BC.

The Assyrian siege and invasion of Lachish was so important that the event is not only described in the Annals of King Sennacherib but also was depicted on the walls of his palace at Nineveh. He devoted an entire room of his huge palace to this historic event. For nearly 2,500 years the palace lay buried and forgotten until it was discovered by a British archaeologist in 1847. He found in the walls of the room, an 8 feet tall and 80 feet long pictorial relief solely dedicated to the capture of Lachish!

The relief of Lachish is still considered as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries related to Bible. Most importantly, the siege of Lachish is one of the few events in Bible (II Kings 18; II Chronicles 32) attested by multiple non-Biblical sources from the same period. Modern excavations at the site have also revealed the existence of a ramp built by Assyrians, approximately 1,500 skulls and hundreds of arrowheads indicating the ferocity of the battle. The Lachish relief is now in British Museum.

"As for Hezekiah the Judahite, who did not submit to my yoke: forty-six of his strong, walled cities, as well as the small towns in their area, which were without number, by levelling with battering-rams and by bringing up seige-engines, and by attacking and storming on foot, by mines, tunnels, and breeches, I besieged and took them. 200,150 people, great and small, male and female, horses, mules, asses, camels, cattle and sheep without number, I brought away from them and counted as spoil"-records the 'Prism of Sennacherib'.

I have been earlier to Lachish (April 2009) and these are the snaps taken while returning from Beit Guvrin on a moving bus.
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