Since I am mentioned in the following post by my friend Norm Langston (pastor from Portland, Oregon and also wifeless on the trip) I am just going to copy his post here. By the way, it's easier to tell people that I'm from "near Des Moines" than to say I'm from Adel, Iowa. That's particularly true for the natives here in Jerusalem who have not even heard of Iowa (I have to tell them I'm from "near Chicago!"). The pictures are my own, and my pictures are probably not going to exactly match Norm's commentary below. The point is that there is a round disk rolled back from the tomb and there is an empty bench in the tomb which should remind you of someone else's tomb who turned out to be a whole lot more important than Herod. Anyway, Norm has a blog at NormLangston.blogspot.com in which he is commenting on his version of the trip. And I borrowed his title for this entry too because it was so good. So, with full credit given to Norm, here is what he wrote,
"We had a free afternoon on Monday. Tom, a pastor from Des Moines, and I hiked across the Hinnom Valley with the goal of finding the tomb of Herod's family. Although Herod was buried at the Herodium, his family was not. We were interested because this is one of the few intact 1st Century tombs in Israel. Especially unusual is the fact that this tomb has a large stone that was rolled across its entrance to keep out scavengers. In this picture, can you see the top of the stone to the left of the entry arch?Allow me to make a suggestion: if you ever go "tomb exploring," take a flashlight. Since we expected this tomb to be sealed, we didn't. However, two pastors couldn't let a little darkness deter us, could we? So we climbed down the stairs, bent down to explore the first chamber, and got down as far as we had to--even on all fours--to grope our way through the other three chambers. Another interesting thing about this tomb is that it--like most Jewish tombs of this era--was designed to be used by multiple people. After a body was fully-decayed, the bones were placed in an ostuary, and the tomb was ready for the next corpse(s).There are two reasons our exploration was important to me. First, everything about this tomb corresponds well with what the New Testament reports about Jesus' death. It was good to see that with my own eyes.Second, it reminded me that many people have been buried in a tomb like this. Only one came out alive. Isn't that reason enough to want to get to know him better."
Norm didn't mention that we did solve the "flashlight problem." After a couple of pictures we figured out that we could put our digital cameras on the "Examine picture" mode, and there was enough light coming from the picture to see our way around the tomb if you held the camera within a couple feet from any object you were trying to look at.