We visited David’s Tower yesterday, unfortunately on the eve of a holiday so our stay was cut short a bit. Places close at 3pm here the day before a major holiday (or the weekly shabbat) because as we all know when God created it was “evening and it was morning.” Thus at sundown the new day begins here.
Anyway… I digress…
We did have about two hours for David’s tower which is a lot of time but not quite enough time to take everything in at a leisurely pace. The tower is a big place as it contains museums, archaeological digs, a botanical park, W.C.s and a cafe. The size of the place is an echo of the original structures that were here. Originally during the Maccabean period the city wall of Jerusalem extended to this point of the western hill (where modern Jaffa gate is today.) It’s probable Hezekiah’s Jerusalem extended this far as well but in this particular location there is no arch remains. Later during Herod the Great’s reign he created his enormous palatial structure here. Along with a three towered defensive structure that overlooked the city from the West. One of the foundations to these towers still stands to a height of 40-50 feet as the foundation to the current tall tower we climbed to get the view of the city.
At the first revolt against Rome most of this part of the city was saved any major damage because we find that the Roman legions used the tower area for their garrison in the ruined city. During the following centuries the Byzantine pilgrims saw the immensity of Herod’s palace adjacent to the tower area and declared this must be David’s palace with his attached tower. The name stuck to the structure at that location even though it was destroyed and rebuilt several times as the Crusaders and Muslim passed control of the city over the following centuries.
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The holiday later that evening was the eighth day of sukkot which was declared a holy day of no work. (Thus the tower closing early.) We went down to the Western Wall to watch the festivities of Simchat Torah – joy of Torah. It signifies the end of the annual cycle of reading Gen – Deut and is characterized by joyful dancing and celebration.
The excitement at the Western Wall was particularly festive as you could see Jews of all types (men only) gathering and dancing with each other holding their Torah scrolls up high. Orthodox Jews from Mea Shearim dancing with New York Jews visiting on holiday. The women, on the other hand, had the fun of watching over the barriers that separate them from the men’s area.
I couldn’t take any pictures of this as it would have been a BIG taboo.
By the way this is one of two days a year where public drunkenness is tolerated because it means you’re really celebrating. Any guesses what the other day is? (No cheating using the Internet!)
1.) the distinctive tower of David. You see it on a lot of Jerusalem publications.
2.) The NE tower with Herodian foundation stones. The Herodian stones are the big ones with embossing that go over 2/3 of the way up.
3.) Ballista stones used against the Hasmonean (Maccabeean period) walls/towers. Varying in size form bowling ball to 2x bowling ball size.