For the first time in 2,000 years, worshipers will be able to make their way to the steps leading to the Second Temple via a road which has been excavated underground. In an amazing feat, archaeologists have almost completed their work and the road will be ready for Jews and Christians to walk later this summer.
Metro Voice had the opportunity to explore the excavations in December of 2018. Archaeologists editor Dwight Widaman and other guests on a tour of the road following it to the furthest point it had been uncovered.
“It was amazing!” states Widaman. “Not only do you walk on the road that Jesus and the disciples walked, you see the evidence of life during the time of Jesus,–the remnants of homes and shops and the ashes and broken bricks from the destruction of Jerusalem. It is mind blowing.”
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman broke through a symbolic wall onto the pilgrimage path.
“Whether there (was) ever any doubt about the accuracy, the wisdom, the propriety, of (US) President (Donald) Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, I certainly think this lays all doubts to rest,” Friedman said at the event.
Friedman was accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sarah, as well as Trump’s Mideast negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
Arab Palestinians accused Friedman of threatening their homes and the Al Aqsa mosque. Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat tweeted:
“This is not making history. It is a day of infamy and disgrace in the history of American diplomacy. One day the US will say that Friedman and Greenblatt were not American diplomats, they were extremist fanatic Israeli settlers, who did a lot of damage to the US interests and image.”
The media has run with the false accusations, not bothering to report the millions spent to ensure the safety and preservation of the Arab neighborhood overhead.
Friedman fired back tweeting:
“Fake News: “Friedman uses sledgehammer to destroy wall under Palestinian homes.” Real News: “Friedman uses sledgehammer to break ceremonial cardboard wall to open once-in-a-century archeological discovery.”
Politics aside, within a few months visitors will be able to walk all the way from the Pool of Siloam, where Jesus healed the blind man as recounted in the Book of John, up to the halfway point on the Pilgrimage Road. The road had been covered by debris after the destruction by the Romans of Jerusalem and the slaughter of its 700,000 Jewish citizens.
Doron Spielman, Vice President of the City of David Foundation, said the Israel Antiquities Authority had made thousands of discoveries here.
“You see the flagstones on the road, you find them here at the pool and you see the exact same flagstones at the end near the Temple Mount itself and if you look, it’s the same designer, the same cut, shape and design, it’s one construction project,” Spielman said.
Friedman said the path is important to Jews and Christians alike, stating it “confirms with evidence, with science, with archaeological studies that which many of us already knew, certainly in our heart: the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.”
“And to those who observe the Christian faith, to feel the steps of Jesus as he walked as a Jewish pilgrim, as he ascended to the Temple – his visits of course to the Temple well-known and documented,” Friedman said.
“It is an intact, living, breathing, piece of history that every one of us has the opportunity to experience for ourselves,” he added.
Zeev Orenstein, Director of International Affairs at the City of David Foundation told CBN News that a key part of this discovery is its authenticity.
“Everything we have here is original,” Orenstein said. “Where we find the road we have the road, in the areas where there is destruction that’s what we see and when we find the road again that’s where it is. The idea is to preserve the ancient pilgrimage road as authentically as possible.”
Widaman, who along with his wife and Metro Voice Publisher Anita Widaman, are taking a group of 34 people to Israel in the fall. While the new excavation may not be open in time for their tour, future tours will make this a must-see experience in the Holy Land.
“It is not yet known how this will impact the hearts and minds of Christians when they walk it,” states Widaman. “I can only imagine the great depths it will add to the impact on the soul that the Holy Land has on an individual.”