After spending five extra hours sitting on the airplane at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport while mechanics tried to fix a mechanical problem, we finally got off the ground. Unfortunately, it cost me and my wife a planned dinner with a Palestinian friend and his wife and kids. But that can, perhaps, be rescheduled.
We’re back in Jerusalem again, just a month after last leaving it. But the power of this place, the city par excellence of the ancient prophets, doesn’t stale.
For years now, we’ve come up to the city from the eastern side, from Jericho, and have then left it by going downhill, westwards, to Ben Gurion Airport, which is located out on the coastal plain near Tel Aviv.
This time, though, my wife and I came straight to Jerusalem. And, because of the lateness of our flight, it was after dark by the time we reached the city. Which gave Jerusalem a marvelous beauty as it stretched out above us against the night sky, with its lights strewn like jewels across the Judean hills.
The drive up to and down from Jerusalem makes an important point that is helpful for reading scripture. “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves.” That becomes very real when you’ve driven from Jerusalem down to the Dead Sea, Jericho, or the Jordan River — into, that is, the Israeli portion of the Great Rift Valley. So does Nephi’s habitual reference to going up from his father to Jerusalem, and then to going down from Jerusalem to his father’s tent in the wilderness. So does the fact that a number of the psalms, written for pilgrims traveling to the temple, are called “songs of ascent.” So does the fact that, even today, Jews who immigrate to the land of Israel are said to have “made aliyah,” to have “made ascent.” (El Al, the name of the Israeli national air carrier, means, in English,”to the skies,” “skywards,” or “upwards.”)
Well, that’s it. I’m dreadfully tired, and I’m headed to bed.
Posted from Jerusalem, Israel.