By Deena Levenstein, tour by Phil
Phil, the Touring Israel guide, took me around the Old City of Jerusalem for a day on a fascinating tour of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in Jerusalem.
This is Part III.
Room of the Last Supper
This large, mostly empty room with decorated pillars and and arched ceilings, sits on Mount Zion, just outside Zion Gate. We sat in the cool space and discussed Passover since it’s possible that Jesus’ final meal took place on the eve of Passover. We discussed the origins of the traditions kept at the Passover seder today as Phil explained that it’s very possible some of the elements of the seder, like drinking lots of wine and asking (but not answering questions), are actually taken from the Greek symposium.
There were so many stories and ideas Phil told me as we sat there. He’d point out the decorative windows and the niche next to them which faces towards Mecca, explaining that they are from the period of time that the room functioned as a mosque from around 1500. He pointed out how it has become a tradition for people to leave notes in the room, just like Jews do at the Western Wall.
The current building is from the time of the crusaders, around 850 years ago. There were probably structures there before – it is said there are Byzantine and Roman remains underneath – and, as mentioned above, it was converted into a mosque around 1500 since the Crusader period.
The above pillar found in the Room of the Last Supper, has pelicans engraved in it. These birds feed their young from their own bodies and thus symbolize feeding from Jesus’ flesh and blood.
The tree above was given as a gift by Pope John Paul II to sit in this room. It is an olive tree with three trunks symbolizing the peace between the three religions and a vine and shaft of wheat representing the wine and bread eaten at the Final Supper.
People come from all over the world to visit this room, reliving the Last Supper and speaking in tongues. It is full of stories seeped in the history of the building and it is definitely worth experiencing for yourself.
One more thing…
Below the main room considered to be the Room of the Last Supper is a functioning synagogue where some say King David is buried. As Phil said, out of all the theories, stories and ideas he told me that day, this is the least probable. The Bible says that King David was buried in the city and this area is situated outside where the City of David sat.
Please meet Phil
Phil is a lively, fun tour guide, originally from Chicago. He truly believes being a tour guide in Israel is the best job there is, he is friendly and respectful towards everyone along the way and he takes it on as his duty to entertain and educate with enthusiasm for as long as his guests have energy.
Phil is not only knowledgeable – he has studied comparative religion in the past – Phil is a wonderful guide for families with kids because he’s an expert at making most anything fun. He did this for me and not only did I laugh, I also was finally able to learn things I’ve had trouble with in the past.
Be in touch with us to find out more about our guides and our luxury tours to Israel.
Photos by Deena Levenstein
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