The day started with a beautiful sunrise over the Dead Sea. After breakfast and loading the bus, our first site of the day, Masada, was only 15 minutes north. Masada is best known for being a Jewish fortress that withstood the Romans for 3 years following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. We rode the cable car to the top. Among what we saw were cisterns, casemate walls, the Roman camps and ramp, a bathhouse, and a 1st century synagogue. Half of the group hiked don the Snake Path to the bottom. Next was Engedi, where we read about the David-Saul story and hiked back to the second water falls.
Further north along this western side of the Dead Sea was Qumran. This is where the Essene community write the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here we saw more cisterns, a few ritual baths (called mikva), and the caves where the scrolls were found in 1947. Finally, we visited Jericho. We re-told the story of Joshua 6 and saw a portion of the southern double fortification walls (on top of which was a mud brick wall, the one that came tumbling down. Before leaving Jericho we briefly stopped at a Hebron glass store.
Finally, we drove 2 hours north through the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee and the city of Tiberias. We checked into the hotel, ate dinner, and enjoyed the evening together. Tonight is the first rain we have seen, and only the second rain in Israel since the spring, a blessing to Israelis.