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An Adair Countian Spends Easter in Jerusalem, 1900


An Adair Countian Spends Easter in Jerusalem, 1900

On the morning of Sunday, March 4, 1900, Eld. Z.T. Williams of Montpelier, then in his 51st year, departed the comforts of home and hearth to set forth on the journey of a lifetime. A few days later, he met up with three other Elders of the Christian Church and together they traveled by rail from Lexington to "Washington City" and on to New York City. At that place, they boarded the "great iron steamer" Spartan Prince, bound for the Holy Land by way of Naples, Alexandria and the Pyramids, thence to Joppa and Jerusalem, the little band of sojourners arriving in the latter city on Tuesday, April 10th, five days before Easter.

In a letter datelined "Jerusalem, Pal[estine], April 17, 1900" and subsequently printed in the May 30th edition of the Adair County News, Eld. Williams spoke first of an overnight sightseeing tour of the vicinity, including a trip to Jericho, Jordan, and the Dead Sea," with mention that "We passed near where the man fell among thieves;" of visits to Elisha's fountain and to "old Nobo from the Jordan valley, where Moses viewed the promised land, but was not permitted to enter;" and stops at "the brook, Cherith, where Elijah was fed by the ravens," and at "the ruins of the prison where John, the Baptist, was beheaded," among other points of Biblical interest.

Elder Williams then wrote (his spellings retained):"
"We stopped in at a Bethany to see the tomb of Lazarus and the home of Mary and Martha, and arrived [back] in Jerusalem at 11 o'clock [Thursday, April 12th]. After lunch we took a stroll inside the walls with our dragoman in the lead. Our hotel De Howard is one of the finest in the Orient and is outside the city. We entered the Joppa gate. The tower of David is the first thing that greets us as we enter the walls. Next, the tomb of David, Judgment Hall of Pilate, Pool of Bethsaida.

"The next day, which was good Friday [April 13th], we secured donkeys and in the morning early we started on a tour to the important places outside the city.

"The tombs of the Kings, which is very ancient, contains sepulchre for thirty or forty bodies. We then visited the holy sepulchre of modern discovery, on the outside of the walls, a suitable place in every respect for Biblical description. A hill is near by that suits for Calvary, and many Protestants believe this is the place of Christ's burial.

"Gethsemane was the next place viewed, and as we entered the garden where Jesus spent the latter part of the night before his trial and crucifixion, I could hardly realize I was in that sacred place. It has an outer wall around it, some ten feet high, and then a space inside of some six or eight feet, and a nice iron fence encloses the inner garden.

"We walked around it and stopped to see the different pictures, representing the different scenes in the trial and crucifixion. They are fine, life-like pictures, and made one feel almost as if he were in touch of the real scenes. In the garden there is one very old-looking olive tree, and many beautiful evergreen trees, and many varieties of flowers and shrubbery. It is located just at the foot of Mt. Olivet, and is well identified as the original garden.

"We rode up the hill to the top of the Mount of Olives and went up the tower, from which we had a fine view of all the surrounding country. The valley of the Jordan and the Dead Sea are in plain view. After strolling around the mountain, stopping at the place where Jesus taught His disciples to pray, we observed a large church and on the walls are thirty-two copies of the Lord's prayer, in thirty-two tongues. We were surprised to see this but gratified to know that the famous prayer was printed in so many tongues. We were shown the traditional place of the ascension, and where the foot of Jesus left its print in the rock. Of course we believed it...

"In the afternoon we went through the city from New Gate to St. Stephen's Gate, on the side of the Mount of Olives, to witness the Mohammaden procession. They were having some kind of a feast to compete with the Catholic Easter, etc. They marched out to where they have Moses' tomb, as they say, which is six or eight miles out on the Jericho road. The feast prevented us from seeing the Temple ground, the mosque of Omer or Dome of the Rock, as they will not permit Christians to see these things during their feast, which lasts a week or more. We had to view these places from the tops of houses. We could get close enough in this way to see the outlines very well, but not like being on them.

"The next day [Saturday, April 14th] we drove down to Hebron, a distance of 18 miles... We took our lunch under the shade, near Abraham's Oak. This is a beautiful place and the grounds are under good improvement, and a nice iron fence encloses this famous old oak. There are now only two living branches on the tree and it looks to be 3,000 years old or more. It bears a great many acorns, as there are always plenty to sell to travelers.

"We saw the Pools of Solomon some 7 or 8 miles from Jerusalem, on the Hebron road. There are three in number, and they were made for supplying water to Jerusalem. There is an aqueduct leading by Bethlehem to Jerusalem. We called at Bethlehem to see the birth place of Jesus...

"We took a look at the hills where the shepherds were watching their flocks when the angels announced the birth of Jesus, then drove back to Jerusalem.

"The next day was Easter Sunday [April 15th] and we all spent the forenoon in our rooms. In the afternoon we went out to Calvary and then to Gethsemane, and there held our services. We sang three or four songs, read appropriate Scripture and has prayer by Bro. Koser; went on Mt. Olivet again and viewed the city from this place once more; had a fine view of the temple grounds and the Dome of the Rock, and after contemplating the history of that place, we went back to our hotel, ready to depart on the morrow."
(From Jerusalem, the doughty band of travelers went to Nazareth, Damascus, and Beyrouth (Beirut), and from there to Constantinople, Athens, Naples, Rome, Venice, and Paris before beginning the long trip home. Eld. Williams returned to Adair County on June 29, 1900, nearly four months after his departure therefrom.) - Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2013-03-31 04:53:03
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