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.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Seat (Cathedra) of Moses (4th Cent. AD). Found in the 1920’s, this basalt chair is one of the most important discoveries from Chorazin. An exemplary illustration of the “Seat of Moses” mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 23:2.

"1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Matthew 23:1-3).

The 'Seat of Moses' has been interpreted differently. Some believe the term means the authority of Pharisees and Scribes and need not be taken literally. For others it is indeed a seat, a special chair from which the Rabbi or another speaker would address the congregation and discuss the Torah and Haftarah readings (from the Book of Prophets) of the day. At the time of Jesus too, Torah was read in every Shabbat in the synagogue (Acts 15:21) and some one from the congregation would address the public. 

"And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him" (Luke 4:20).The place where he sat down was called "Moses' Seat". The seat was then probably meant for the dignitaries among the congregation and not for the Rabbi alone. Of course, the 'Moses' Seat' discovered from Chorazin was used in the 4th century and not at the time of Jesus.

The Aramaic inscription in front of the stone reads: "Remembered be for good Judah ben Ishmael who made this stoa and its staircase. As his reward may he have a share with the righteous". You can read the first line Zachor l'tov (Remembered for good) easily. Remember the original seat is in the Israel Museum and a replica is placed at the Chorazin national park.

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