Sunday, August 30, 2015

Golgotha or The Place of the Skull

 I was privileged to get to spend more than two weeks in Jerusalem in July and August of 2015.  While there, I visited the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem-- a quiet beautiful (and free) place where an empty first century tomb C.E. is located-- found, I think,  in the 1950s.  I went to the Garden Tomb with some dear friends--- and I walked along the ramparts of Jerusalem from the Jaffa Gate past the Damascus Gate as far as my guide could take me until the way to the Lion's Gate was padlocked.  
(Picture credit-- I took all these pictures except for the original of Conrad Schick's photo below and the East Jerusalem Bus Station map.) 

At the Garden Tomb, our tour guide showed us a picture of what Conrad Schick saw when he looked out a a house in Jerusalem-- a stony cliff with a skull staring back at him. 

For centuries, many have believed that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was the place of Yeshua's (Jesus') death as well as burial.  I visited it on my first trip to Jerusalem 19 years ago.  To me, it was a dark place filled with centuries of gold decoration and candles  in several ostentatious  styles where priests of various denominations keep an uneasy peace as they claim certain parts of the building.  Our guide told us that the government of Israel has had to replace a stone slab several times because of pilgrims determined to chip off a bit of the rock.  The guide said that there is a Muslim family tasked with having the key to the building so that the Christians who inhabit the building don't fight about who owns the key.  To me, there was no sense of anything real there although others may have a different impression.

Others have suggested Skull Hill as the place where Yeshua died.  Today it is next to (and underneath) the site of the very busy East Jerusalem Bus Station.

Excellent discussion of The Place of the Skull 

Matthew 27:33

33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”).

 After so many centuries, some things are very different, but some things are still the same.  

Things that are the same: 

  • Nablus Street outside the Damascus Gate is a busy thoroughfare outside the Old City, as it has been for centuries.  

  • The cliff is still there, although (as my guide told me) the mouth of the skull has been covered over when the East Jerusalem Bus Station was paved.   The eyes for the "Place of the Skull" can be seen behind the white building with arches on the street.  The "eyes" are between green sign and the green banner on the top of the building.  Next to the "eyes" is Zedekiah's cave.  My guide told me that cave is also an execution place.  To the left of that is where the Garden Tomb was cut into the rock.  Above the Skull is a Muslim cemetery that was not built up with a wall in 1994, the first time I visited.  Around the back of the hill is where the hill slopes up to the top of the cliff.  People would not have walked all the way around the hill to go up to the top.  Yeshua was not killed on the top of the cliff but at the bottom.  
     Here is a map showing the location of the East Jerusalem Bus Station.  Look down at the blue route to see Sultan Suleiman Street across from the Old City's Damascus Gate.

Thanks to Avigail  for posting the link
Thank you, Fred, for what you wrote about the subject. 

  • It was a traditional place for execution because it is full of rocks.  In the time of the Byzantines, it was known as St. Stephen's gate because of the tradition that he was killed outside of this gate. 
  • It fit the Roman goal of making an execution very public at a place where many would naturally be walking.  The intent was to demonstrate Rome's power and frighten everyone into submission to Rome at all times.  

The approach to the Damascus Gate Rampart

   This busy bus terminal seems to be the practical place for execution where Yeshua willingly died.  

As Goner explains  

Golgotha "Skull Hill"

by Goner Written Feb 25, 2003
3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness
"This hill was discovered by British General Gordon  [actually Conrad Schick]   on a visit to Jerusalem in 1883. The Scriptures tell us that [Messiah] was crucified at Golgatha [sic], which means "place of the skull" which accurately describes a skull-shaped hill less than a hundred meters from the site of the tomb outside the old city walls. Both the skull-shaped hill, known as Gordon's Calvary, and the Garden Tomb are outside the limits of the Old City. Even though the present walls do not follow the same line as those of the first century, both hill and tomb still certainly lie outside the first-century wall, as burial places were considered "unclean" and forbidden within the city walls."

The view back towards the Damascus Gate. 

I took these pictures from on top of the Damascus Gate or from the Garden Tomb.  The bus station itself is not set up for people to come walk through the parking lot since it is a busy terminal. 

Zedekiah's Cave (with underground quarry)

Whether the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the actual place of execution and resurrection as the linked article makes a good case for-- or whether Gordon's Calvary (above) is the actual and historic place of Yeshua's death, the fact is that Messiah Yeshua-- a Jewish man born in Bethlehem whose custom it was to attend synagogue and go to the Temple , as described in Isaiah 53-- the forbidden chapter-- willingly laid down His life.  He rose again just as He said.  He was seen by many people, and He changed the lives of all who knew Him or know Him today.  He gives beauty for ashes. He is the One the prophets wrote about.  Read them for yourself and see.  

In Proverbs 30:4, the author asks all of us-- Jewish, Gentile-- Muslims, Christians-- people of every language or culture: 

ד  מִי עָלָה-שָׁמַיִם    וַיֵּרַד,
מִי אָסַף-רוּחַ בְּחָפְנָיו    מִי צָרַר-מַיִם בַּשִּׂמְלָה--
מִי,    הֵקִים כָּל-אַפְסֵי-אָרֶץ:
מַה-שְּׁמוֹ וּמַה-שֶּׁם-בְּנוֹ,    כִּי תֵדָע.

: For more
pictures of Golgotha

Questions about Messiah

4 Who hath ascended up into heaven, and descended?
Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in his garment?
Who hath established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou knowest?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Little Pencil in a Big Hand--

“I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world.” 
― Mother Teresa

For me to be that love letter, I have to be filled up as much as possible with God's love for me.

It's not optional.

A couple of days ago, I was listening again to one of my Messianic Rabbi's sermons.  It was after a particularly sweet worship time.

He quoted an interview between Dan Rather and Mother Teresa that caught my attention.

Dan Rather:  “When you pray, what do you say to God?”
Mother Teresa: “I don’t say anything. I listen.”
Dan Rather:  “Okay…When God speaks to you, then, what does he say?”
 Mother Teresa:“He doesn’t say anything. He listens.”
Dan Rather looked or felt “baffled.”
Then Mother Teresa added: “And if you don’t understand that, I can’t explain it to you.”
  I found tonight when I simply sat with Him without trying to say anything, I experienced His peace and a wonderful joy welling up in my heart in a deeper way than usual. I've experienced a significant loss recently, and I'm more conscious of my need of His comfort than normal.    I've been fasting from entertainment recently-- just turning off the television-- and the quiet in the house has been at first uncomfortable and then-- progressively-- relaxing.  It's a kind of desert where I learn to hear the wind and the sand better-- where my senses are less cluttered.  
Speaking of deserts,  one of my favorite heroes in the Bible is Moses because of his two-way talks with G-d.   I tell the Lord that I need two way talks with Him every bit as much as Moses did...

  I tell Him that I need Him to be all that Psalm 16 promises.  There are things that I am responsible to do, the Psalm says, but there are other things that He promises to do and to be:  

11 Who makes  my lot secure.Who counsels me--even at nightWho is near at my right hand so that I am not shaken.
The One
Who keeps me safe
from Whom every good thing I have flows
Who alone is my portion and my cup;
Who sets my  boundary lines  in pleasant places;
Who has planned for and given me a delightful inheritance (not just in the future but now, too)
Who will make known to me the path of life;
Who will fill me with joy in His presence,
with eternal pleasures at His right hand.

I particularly noticed the word "fullness"   (sew-vah) which means "1) satiety, abundance, fulness  a) satiety    b) abundance
Psa 16:11Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore.

[is] fulnessh7648
שבע soba`

תֹּֽודִיעֵנִי אֹרַח חַיִּים שֹׂבַע שְׂמָחֹות אֶת־פָּנֶיךָ נְעִמֹות בִּימִינְךָ נֶֽצַח
English (KJV)  Strong'sRoot Form (Hebrew)Tense
Thou wilt shewh3045
ידע yada`
me the pathh734
ארח 'orach
of life:h2416
חי chay
in thy presenceh6440
פנים paniym
[is] fulnessh7648
שבע soba`
of joy;h8057
שמחה simchah
at thy right handh3225
ימין yamiyn
[there are] pleasuresh5273
נעים na`iym
for evermore.h5331
נצח netsach

Blue Letter Bible. "Book of Psalms 16 - (KJV - King James Version)." Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 31 Jul 2013. < >

 G-d seems to be saying here that He will show me the way to real life if I will consistently listen to His counsel and obey Him.   ["I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" Yeshua said.]  That life is not the broad way of choosing whatever I want whenever I want it.  It is the narrow way of laying down my "rights" and choosing to walk with Him in obedience and humility, laying down my desires to choose what pleases Him instead.  

He says, "In My presence is fullness of joy."  

I checked to see how "fullness" is used in other places: 
Exd 16:3And the children 1121 of Israel 3478 said 559 unto them, Would to God 4310 5414 we had died 4191 by the hand 3027 of the LORD 3068 in the land 776 of Egypt 4714, when we sat 3427 by the flesh 1320 pots5518, [and] when we did eat 398 bread 3899 to the full7648; for ye have brought us forth 3318 into this wilderness 4057, to kill 4191this whole assembly 6951 with hunger 7458.
Lev 25:19And the land 776 shall yield 5414 her fruit 6529, and ye shall eat 398your fill7648, and dwell 3427 therein in safety 983.
Lev 26:5And your threshing 1786 shall reach 5381 unto the vintage 1210, and the vintage 1210 shall reach 5381 unto the sowing time 2233: and ye shall eat 398 your bread 3899 to the full7648, and dwell 3427 in your land 776 safely 983.
Deu 23:24When thou comest 935 into thy neighbour's 7453 vineyard 3754, then thou mayest eat 398 grapes 6025 thy fill7648 at thine own pleasure 5315; but thou shalt not put 5414 [any] in thy vessel 3627.
Rth 2:18And she took [it] up 5375 , and went 935 into the city 5892: and her mother in law 2545 saw 7200 what she had gleaned 3950 : and she brought forth 3318 , and gave 5414 to her that she had reserved3498 after she was sufficed7648.
Psa 16:11Thou wilt shew 3045 me the path 734 of life 2416: in thy presence6440 [is] fulness7648 of joy 8057; at thy right hand 3225 [there are] pleasures 5273 for evermore 5331.
Psa 78:25Man 376 did eat 398 angels 47' food 3899: he sent 7971 them meat6720 to the full7648.
Pro 13:25The righteous 6662 eateth 398 to the satisfying7648 of his soul 5315: but the belly 990 of the wicked 7563 shall want 2637 .

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for soba` (Strong's 7648)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2013. 31 Jul 2013. < http://
Strongs=H7648&t=KJV >

What a treasure these words open up that G-d says He will be for those who want to be fully satisfied.

No idol-- no substitute-- can ever give what only He can give and be.

"In My presence is fullness of joy."  Nothing else is promised to provide that joy-- but coming to Him continually in my heart believing His promise.... I am experiencing joy and peace there sitting quietly with Him.  I am getting filled up... and I will have a reserve to give out for His glory.

He has made promises to me, and He will keep them. In His presence, my soul is satisfied.  My heart rests, and life is simple with much to be grateful for.

I remember His words in Ezekiel

Afterward he measured a thousand; [and it was] a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.

The Jordan River entering the Kinneret (Galilee)

 The Jordan River at flood stage

I am very very thirsty for His words, His perspective, His counsel, His rest. I want Him to raise up the water table inside me until He becomes in me a "river that I cannot cross"-- a river that takes me where He wants me to be and which is a channel for Him to water where He sees fit.

 I just need to take time to come sit and listen to His heartbeat and to know that He, the Holy One of Israel, is near.

Draw near to G-d, and He will draw near to you, the Bible says.

Yes, L-rd.