To a historical geographer, Israel is a very interesting country. Literally within this small country of only about 300 miles in length, there are over a dozen “regions” that differ dramatically from one to the other. It is within these regions that the history of the Bible takes place.
Geographically, there are lowlands, valleys, hill countries, plateaus, and basins. Additionally, there is a mountain range (called Mt. Hermon) over 7,200 feet above sea level. It even has it’s own ski resort that receives many meters of snow each year at its high elevations. In contrast, there is the Dead Sea located almost 1,400 feet below sea level. This region has maybe a few scattered rain showers each year. The psalmist describes the Judean Desert as a “dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1).”
However, what the Judean Desert and this area of the Dead Sea does have are flash floods. However, these are caused not because of rainfall in this region. Rather, it’s caused by rainfall that occurs high in the western Hill Country of Judah. When it rains heavily in this western region and as a result of not having the chance to be absorbed into the hardened ground and rock formations, the water violently gushes down the high cliffs of the Judean Desert. When I lived in Israel I have personally seen busses overturned by the torrent of water that fill up these wadis, or dry-river beds, usually without warning.
HERE is a Youtube video of a flash flood that just took place in the Qurman area, or at the northern end of the Dead Sea. As you watch this video, you will be amazed at the strength of the gushing water over the cliffs high above this ancient city where the Dead Sea Scrolls were scribed.
For this reason, this is why places like Ein Gedi and the hiking paths above Qumran are closed. Flash floods are dangerous and need to be avoided. Yet it is a uniquely beautiful thing to see!