Oh, King David
This week’s column
is just for fun. That’s a change, isn’t it? Too often we sink and don’t look up
from the troubles of this world to see the sun. I thought it might be good to
take a stroll in the literal God’s Country, and get a taste of what Jerusalem has to offer. We
might extend this written tour into next week!
I start with the King
Hotel. Located a stone’s
throw from the Old
City, on the western side,
the hotel is one of the most famous in the world. If you ever have the
opportunity to visit Israel
(CAUTION: expensive suggestion dead-ahead), you simply must stay at the King
structure, on a tree-lined street filled with boutiques (and just a couple doors
down from the newer-but-no-less-swank David Citadel), has been the hotel
destination of choice for the rich and famous for decades. I stayed once, for
three days. It remains one of the highlights of my life.
(For an idea on room
rates, let’s just say you could stay in a Super 8 for five nights for what it
will cost you per night at the King David.)
Entering a fairly
small door, you walk into a reservations desk area and lobby that is famous for
its Babylonian-style motif. Plenty of soft-cushion couches and chairs make for
cozy meetings. One morning, I went down early and sat in a side room and just
stared at it all for an hour.
Each wing contains
rooms that make you think you are in a ‘40s film noir. Maybe Humphrey Bogart is
standing near a window. I chose to stay in a room that looks out on the Old
City, with its golden walls shining in the morning
sun. Palm trees look over a grassy pool area.
Inside again, one
can stroll down the hall corridors and see the signatures of famous guests in
the floor. They’re all there: Churchill, Israeli prime ministers, Jimmy…Carter
Exiting, you can
hail a cab from a Jewish driver who can get you into Bethlehem. The way it works is, he drops you
off at a village on the outskirts of the now-Palestinian city, and an Arab
driver then takes you in. A day of shopping and a visit to the Church of the
Nativity is topped off with an evening of elegant dining at the King David.
One last thing about
this grand place: the breakfast buffet is unlike anything I’ve ever seen
anywhere. Simply stunning. Much to Dianna’s chagrin, I gobbled up pickled
herring, pastries, caviar, cheeses…well, the list is long.
Stay at the King
On the short walk to
the Old City,
you’ll pass pricey apartments mostly occupied by well-to-do Jews who have either
made aliyah, or who spend part of their time in the fabled city, and part of the
time in New York.
Nearby is the old
community that gets my heart beating faster because it fulfilled Bible prophecy.
In the mid-19th century, Moses Montefiore built dwellings outside the
Old City walls — the first of their kind — to
encourage people to populate outside the walls of the ancient city. This speaks
to Zechariah 2:4, and so you can stand with a cup of coffee in the morning (as I
once did at the nearby Mount Zion Hotel) and stare at fulfilled prophecy. It is
my answer to kooky liberal scholars who mock the idea of Bible prophecy.
Upon entering the Old
City, you immediately have all your senses
heightened. The smells of food, animals, and odorous habitation in close
quarters let you know you’ve never been anywhere like this before. An
archaeological park at the base of the Temple Mount
brings the ancient right up to the modern, as tourists snap pictures and stroll
near giant blocks of stone pushed over the side by the 10th Roman
Legion during the destruction of
in A.D. 70.
As a matter of fact,
you can look at the Temple
Mount from a higher
elevation — say, the Jewish quarter — and see more fulfilled prophecy, in this
case, Matthew 24. When Jesus said not one stone would be left upon another,
that’s exactly what He meant. If you see the Temple Mount
in the mind’s-eye of a first-century visitor (that is, minus the Dome of the
Rock, the Al-Aksa Mosque, and various outbuildings), you will see a Mount that
is scraped clean and smooth. Those aforementioned stones start the mind clicking
and you see that Jesus’ prediction happened exactly as He said it would.
In the Old
City, you will see a teeming boil of cultures and
religions: the Muslim Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Christian Quarter, the
Armenian Quarter. Once, I was strolling along and looked up to see a Coptic
Christian — his black robes and hood flowing in the breeze. I pointed my camera
at me and I could only see his eyes looking back at me. He slowly waved an index
finger back and forth; don’t take my picture. The Copts — Egyptians who
are Christian — are among the tiny minorities trying to survive in the
I’ll finish today’s
discussion with a view of East Jerusalem, in which the Old City
unfortunately “rests.” In East Jerusalem, often called the Arab section of Jerusalem, patrols of
Jewish soldiers and police keep the peace. Among the thousands of people walking
the streets are Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives who blend in and look like
everyone else. They might be shop keepers or whatever.
Everywhere you look
is old stone. Sidewalks, streets, buildings. If the place was empty of modern
conveniences like vehicles…it looks little changed from biblical times. The
hills are dotted with shepherds and sheep. Ancient structures break up the split
between the Judean Hills and the Samarian Hills, the former barren and the
latter beginning to green as one looks north toward the lush country.
Continuing the tour of Jerusalem