DAY 8 – SATURDAY, MAY 28
Today was a “desert day!” Leaving our hotel after breakfast, we drove to through the Judean Desert to the east before turning south along the western coastline of the Dead Sea. Our first destination was Masada. The weather was very nice again, with sun and highs in the 80s.
Masada was yet another palace-fortress of Herod the Great. It was built on a “stand-alone” mountain that reaches about 1,000 feet above the visitor center below. We ascended Masada in a cable car. Shlomo shared with us the story of how 967 Jews died here top as the Romans surrounded them for nearly three years. We saw the one of the palaces, the Roman ramp, cisterns, the casemate walls, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. A few in the group hiked down the Snake Path at the end of the tour of this amazing place. Praise God that He is our metzada (our fortress, our “Masada”)!
Driving north now about 20 minutes, our next stop was Ein Gedi. We walked into the canyon (“Wadi David”) and enjoyed the narrative of Ecclesiastes 1 and the stories of 2 Chronicles 20 and 1 Samuel 24. This later story preserves David’s experience of hiding in a cave here when Saul was pursuing him. We walked back far enough to see some of the water falls.
Continuing north, Qumran was our next stop. This is where the Essenes community wrote the famous Dead Sea scrolls! We saw some of the ruins that included cisterns, scriptorium, and miqve (ritual baths). We also read from “Psalm 151” as well as Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3 as we celebrated not only the preservation of Gods Word but also the impact God’s Word has in our lives. During lunch, some even hiked up to the famous “Cave 1.”
From here we enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea. This is a body of water that is about 30% salt and mineral. Everyone enjoyed it very much!
On our way back to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. With the Judean desert as the backdrop, we heard the powerful words of Isaiah 40 (“A voice of one calling in the desert…”), while Shlomo sang “Psalm 23.” The overview of the Judean Desert was special!
We returned home to the hotel for dinner. Some enjoyed a walk to Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Road for some shopping and a taste of modern Israel culture.
DAY 9 – SUNDAY, MAY 29: OLD CITY, WAILING WALL, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, ISRAEL MUSEUM, and YAD VASHEM