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Israel Museum Tour

cultural tours in Jerusalem

This time we are going to tour the Israel Museum. My Israel Museum Tour is one of my favorites tours I like to give since there is so much to see and explore in the Museum. So let’s start without delay, I would like to start with the Model of Second Temple Jerusalem which is located just above the Shrine of the Book. 

Israel Museum Tour: Model of Jerusalem in 2nd Temple Period

The Model of Jerusalem was designed by Israeli historian and geographer Michael Avi-Yonah. In fact, he was using the writings of Flavius Josephus. But Avi-Yonah also used various archaeological over the years. The model includes a replica of the Herodian Temple. In the model, you can various interesting things that some of them you can still see today. First, there are the towers on the west side of the city. 

The model illustrates the topographic structure of Jerusalem and the centers of power in the city. All of them located in their original place – in the high places. The towers to the west of the city built by Herod are an example of this. Josephus Flavius, in his book The War of the Jews against the Romans, when he comes to the chapter describing the completion of the conquest of the city he details its fortifications. He mentions three towers: the more notable towers are: Mariamne Tower; Phasael Tower; Hippicus Tower. Near the Jaffa Gate area, the Hippicus tower was built; “which King Herod built together with the two towers next to it, and they were marvelous in their size and strength among the towers of the world.” The towers were named after his friends and family members.

The Model of Jerusalem in 2nd Temple Period More in Detail

The city was divided into a number of districts, listed as follows: City of David; Upper City; Lower City; Bezetha; Ophel. Furthermore, you can also see notable structures mentioned in the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible. For example Temple Mount: the model depicts the Temple Mount and the Herodian Temple during the first century CE; the trail offers the view of the Temple Mount from the east in other words, from Mount of Olives. Also, the Pool of Bethesda, which was a pool in Jerusalem; today located in the Muslim Quarter. The pool is known from the New Testament story of Jesus miraculously healing a paralyzed man (John 5).  

You can also see the famous Pool of Siloam, where another famous miracle of Jesus took place. is a rock-cut pool on the southern slope of the City of David located outside the walls of the Old City to the southeast. The pool was fed by the waters of the Gihon Spring, carried there by the Siloam Tunnel. The pool remained in use during the time of Jesus. According to the Gospel of John, Jesus sent “a man blind from birth” to the pool in order to complete his healing. As a freshwater reservoir, the pool would have been a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city. 

Israel Museum Tour: Herod’s Palaces 

Herod’s Palace is another detail worth stalling and talk about during our tour of the model. Herod’s Palace at Jerusalem was built in the last quarter of the 1st century BC by Herod I the Great. It was the second most important building in Jerusalem; after the Temple itself, in Herod’s day, and was situated at the northwestern wall of the Upper City of Jerusalem. Herod lived in it as a principal residence; but not permanently, as he owned other palace-fortresses, notably at Masada, Herodium, and Caesarea Maritima

Last is the Antonia Fortress which was a citadel built by Herod the Great and named for Herod’s patron Mark Antony. As specified it was a fortress whose chief function was to protect the Second Temple. It was built in Jerusalem at the eastern end of the so-called Second Wall,

Israel Museum Tour: The Shrine of the Book 

The Shrine of the Book is a wing of the Israel Museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Aleppo Codex. The shrine is built as a white dome, covering a structure placed two-thirds below the ground, which is reflected in a pool of water that surrounds it. Across from the white dome is a black basalt wall. According to one interpretation, the colors and shapes of the building are based on the imagery of the Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness; the white dome symbolizes the Sons of Light and the black wall symbolizes the Sons of Darkness. 

The Dead Sea Scrolls (also the Qumran Caves Scrolls) are ancient Jewish religious manuscripts that were found in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert, near Ein Feshkha on the northern shore of the Dead Sea. Scholarly consensus dates these scrolls from the last three centuries BCE and the first century CE. The texts have great historical; religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon; along with deuterocanonical and extra-biblical manuscripts which preserve evidence of the diversity of religious thought in late Second Temple Judaism. Almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls are held by the state of Israel in the Shrine of the Book on the grounds of the Israel Museum.

What’s on the Display? 

The Shrine of the Book displays the three scrolls purchased in 1947 by Eliezer Sukenik and the other four scrolls purchased in the United States by Yigal Yadin. Also on display is the Temple Scroll that Yigal Yadin was involved in purchasing and came into his hands after the Six-Day War. In order to protect the scrolls, a section of a scroll is displayed between 3 and 6 months; and then returned for preservation and replaced with another section. An exception is the Book of Isaiah; a copy of which is displayed in its entirety in the center of the temple.

Israel Museum Tour: The Archaeological Wing

The Land of Israel has been home to many peoples of different cultures and beliefs for about a million and a half years. These peoples and cultures are dedicated to the permanent display of the Archeological wing; which serves as a top-notch showcase for the rich and fascinating local archeological heritage. The Archeology Collection of the Land of Israel; presented here, is considered one of the world’s leaders in its field, both because of its quality and scope. 

The exhibition takes the visitor on an unparalleled journey in the path of the country’s history; which was the homeland of the Bible and the cradle of the three monotheistic religions; a journey that begins in prehistoric times – and ends with the beginning of the Ottoman period. Fateful to historical events; cultural achievements; technological innovations and creative creativity. All this shown through thousands of ancient objects; many of them unique, opening a hatch into the lifestyles; beliefs, and worldviews of the peoples of the Holy Land and its rulers in distant and fascinating times.

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Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

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