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The Israel Museum

The last time I was in Jerusalem, I went to the Israel Museum and was most impressed. But our schedule was such that my friends and I were really rushed. I longed to go back when I would actually have time to see some of the things that most interested me.

We shared a cab with another couple, and when we got there, we split up and met again for lunch.

I don't have a great deal to add to what I said about the museum last time, so I will reproduce some of it here:

I am definitely up on museums, having been brought up on them, raised two children on them, centered many vacations on them, and now volunteered in them. And I must say, the Israel Museum is a stunner.

It consists of a number of beautiful contemporary buildings on a campus. . . Admission includes a superlative audio guide, which I found extremely helpful in navigating the material efficiently.

I visited the Shrine of the Book. You can see from the web site that they design the site with a threefold structure that echoes the structure of ancient temples that had an entryway, a tunnel, and the holy-of-holies. Everything is underground, echoing the Caves of Qumran where the scrolls were found, and the lighting is dim, for atmosphere, of course, but more importantly, to protect these priceless artifacts. The entry contains a photo exhibit on the discovery of the scrolls. In the tunnel are artifacts and explanations about the life of the Essene commnity at Qumran. Then the visitor goes up some steps into the holy-of-holies of biblical scholarship, where a facsimile of the Isaiah Scroll, the only complete biblical text in the Scrolls. This is shown around a circular drum directly under the distinctive dome. It is extremely dramatic. The original is kept under safer conditions, and different sections are rotated in the displays along the walls, along with sections of other scrolls. Having been fascinated by scriptural study since college, I was actually rather stunned to view these ancient scrolls there before me.

Unlike last time though, we had more time available, so after lunch in a pleasant cafe with tasty selections of salads, sandwiches, and pasta, Marty and I went to the archaeological collection. I was most interested in their artifacts that related to biblical events. I hoped to cover about half the display, but after getting through about two of the seven historical periods, I realized I was fading. So we left and got a cab back to the guesthouse. However, this was after we got a good look at a fascinating collection of materials from home, field, and battle, covering all those folks from the Hebrew Bible: Canaanites, Philistines, Phoenicians in the eras of the patriarchs and the Exodus. Too bad we couldn't continue, but one indication that we couldn't was that after getting back to our room, we went to sleep for two hours. I never do that!

Then we got up and went to meet our group--all of whom are finally here--for dinner. We took the route through the souk--narrow streets with tiny shops selling all manner of things: gold jewelry, children's backpacks, shoes, spices, and so on. It looks like a pedestrian street, and then suddenly one must dodge a motorcycle or small truck. We emerged into a sunlit square where we ran into some of our group and proceeded to the Armenian Tavern for dinner. The Armenian Tavern is fascinating. It looks like an antique shop, with glass cases full of exotic jewelry, copper pitchers, ornate lamps. But it's a place to have dinner. We had assorted appetizers--salads, labneh, hummus, baba ghanoush, spicy red relish--and then ordered for ourselves.. I had lamb kabobs, and Marty had meatball kabobs. It was a loud and jolly gathering and fun trading stories of our first days in Israel.

Posted by mlld3536 17:00 Archived in Israel

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