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THE LOWER CITY
Once past one of the gates, you would face a maze of dusty streets and
alleyways, running uphill and down in every direction. As you made your way toward the
temple, you would hear sounds of voices, the clatter of hooves and odors of
cooking food. Along the Small Market street in the Lower City, you would pass
open-air shops where Jerusalem's craftsmen sat at work: the city's weavers, dyers,
potters, bakers, tailors, carpenters and metalworkers. Farther along you would
enter the colorful bazaar, where merchants sold fruits and vegetables, dried
fish, sacrificial animals, clothes, perfumes and jewelry.
The market street was always crowded and busy, especially on Mondays and
Thursdays, the main market days, when citizens and visitors came there to buy goods
or souvenirs. Perishable goods were on sale every day. Only on the Sabbath was the street empty and quiet.
After traveling you could stop to rest at one of Jerusalem's many taverns or
restaurants. There you could select from a menu offering fresh or salted fish,
fried locusts, vegetables, soup, pastry and fruit. You could drink local wine or
The farmers of Jerusalem, like their rural cousins, went out each morning to tend their crops. Most of
them worked in the rich olive groves that covered the surrounding hillsides
and provided the city's only major export.
Jerusalem's numerous craftsmen had for a long time been organized into
professional groups and most of them worked in public shops. The members of each group
lived in a cluster of houses in a particular section of the city and they
usually had their own synagogue. In Jesus' time, there were at least 480 synagogues in Jerusalem.