Our group arrived safely if not exhausted in Tel Aviv this afternoon from Chicago and then made our way to Jerusalem where the plan had been to watch the sunset from the Haas-Sherover Promenade.
This is said to be the place where Abraham first saw Mount Moriah. However, delayed planes and buses meant we arrived after sunset. Still, the view was spectacular.
After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; he cut the wood for the burnt-offering, and set out and went to the place in the distance that God had shown him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place far away.
We'll save a discussion of the historicity of this passage from Genesis for another time.
From here we could see the lights of East Jerusalem and the Old City. From below you could hear a beautiful symphony of voices as the Muslim call to prayer came from Mosques across Jerusalem. I had heard the call to prayer before in Southern India but it was nothing like this. The sung call rang out in all directions. In the United States, efforts by Muslims to allow the call to prayer to be offered publically have often been met with hostility - even threats of violence and outcries from Christian fundamentalists at places in Duke University in North Carolina.
It was a beautiful and meaningful start to our trip. After 20 hours of travel, we went to our hotel for dinner, conversation about the days ahead, and - for me at least - bed.