The First Step

Me stepping into the chilly water running through Hezekiah's Tunnel.
Me stepping into the chilly water running through Hezekiah's Tunnel.

So, tomorrow’s the big day: my tourguide course begins! We’ll be having an orientation, and perhaps a first “class” as well (I’m not really sure).

I believe there are supposed to be about 45 of us in the course, and I know at least two other guys who will be studying with me. I’m sure there will be at least a few others I know as well (it always seems to go that way with me), but I look forward to meeting lots more cool people with similar interests.

And as I take my first step on the path to becoming a licensed tourguide here, this blog is also about to begin its growth. So I ask you to communicate with me as well: leave me comments on my posts, tell me what you like or don’t like, and ask me questions you may have about the course, becoming a tourguide, or about Israeli tourism in general. It is my hope that this blog grows into one of the most comprehensive blogs about the Israeli tourism industry overall.

(By the way, I should say that I know that “tour guide” as two words is probably more accurate and grammatically correct. But for some reason, I just feel that “tourguide” as a single word seems more appropriate and/or accurate. Makes it seem like a profession unto itself, as opposed to a subset of guides in general. That being said, I’m also a bit lazy, and may use the two spellings interchangeably. Don’t get on my case about it too much, please!)

Finally, a drop more about the above picture, since I hope that the pics I post will also become an integral part of my blog. Outside the current walls of Jerusalem’s Old City lies an archaeological park known as Ir David, or the City of David in English.

Walking through Hezekiah's Tunnel, October 2009
Walking through Hezekiah's Tunnel, October 2009

It is actually the location of Jerusalem during King David’s time (the city moved northward and westward over time). I am sure I will write more about this place a different time, as it is a major tourist attraction. But for now I’ll just discuss the part relating to the pictures in this post.

One of the centerpieces of this area is called Hezekiah’s Tunnel, an amazing feat of ancient engineering. To protect the city’s water supply ahead of an impending siege on the city, King Hezekiah had two teams of men working from opposite ends to carve a tunnel by hand, bringing the water from outside the city through to the other side of the hill, inside the city walls. Chiseling through the mountain stone, the two teams made a tunnel that is over a half a kilometer long, and drops at a steady grade approximately 1 meter in total, so the water would flow along the entire route. The two teams met in the middle of the mountain, after hearing each other working and calling as they grew close!

This project is even recounted in the Tanakh (the acronym that refers to the Jewish Bible by its three main segments Torah or the five books of Moses, Neviim or prophets, and Ketuvim or writings).

After these things, and this faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fortified cities, and thought to make a breach therein for himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, he took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city; and they helped him. So there was gathered much people together, and they stopped all the fountains, and the brook that flowed through the midst of the land, saying: ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?’ […] This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper spring of the waters of Gihon, and brought them straight down on the west side of the city of David. — 2 Chronicles (Divrei Hayamim Bet) 32:2-4, 30

(Translation from Mechon Mamre based on JPS 1917 edition.)

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