Ancient Origins IRAQ Tour

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Christ in the House of His Parents (`The Carpenter's Shop') by John Everett Millais  (1850) (Public Domain)

The Fate Of The First-Century Carpenter Of Jerusalem

First century AD Jerusalem was a bustling metropolis with a population estimated between 80,000 to 200,000 people.  During Pesach or Passover, one of the ‘Three Pilgrimages to Jerusalem’ – the other two being Shavuot marking the wheat harvest and Sukkoth, the ‘Feast of Tabernacles’ – the numbers could easily have swelled with 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims.  Approaching the city from a distance, a rural carpenter and his 12-year-old son visiting for the first time would have stopped and gazed in awe at the city’s fortification walls and the looming towers, with the Temple shimmering gold on the highest hill of Moriah. Jerusalem was built on the hills of Judea, the three most prominent being Ophel, Moriah and Zion. 

The view of Ancient Jerusalem. Model in the Israel Museum. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Deep valleys in the south, west and east of the city hindered passage and approach from these directions. The Gihon River meandered through the Kidron Valley in the east, the Tyropean Valley divided Jerusalem from north to south and the Hinnom Valley lay to the south-west. The Hinnom Valley attained notoriety due to the early Israelite King Menasseh (697–640 BC), who was not only an idolater, but also supported a cult of child sacrifice by fire and killed his own sons in this Valley of the Son of Hinnom. Later it became the perpetual burning-garbage dump and city sewer of Jerusalem.


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