DAY 12 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14:
Today was a day spent in the Negev. The sun and warm temps still followed us, but it was manageable in the shade.
After breakfast, we visited Tel Beersheba. This city has many connections to the Bible. It was a place visited by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, and others. Climbing the tel, we first saw the city gate and well. We also saw a replica of the 4-horned altar found here. Even though the well does not date to the time of the Patriarchs, we read from Genesis 21 about Abraham making a treaty here. Entering into the city we saw typical “4-room Israelite houses,” and a storehouse. We left the site by descending down through the water-cistern system.
Driving south, we visited Sde Boker and the grave of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. His grave overlooks the amazing Desert of Zin. On the way to the grave, we saw a few dozen ibex (wild goats, Psalm 104). Shlomo shared a little about the life of Ben Gurion, a man who loved the Negev. Driving down into the canyon of Zin, we recalled the stories of the 12 spies who came up through this area (Numbers 13) as well as the story of Moses striking the rock (Numbers 20). From the trial head, we walked in the canyon to the water falls and back. Some in the group hiked to the far rim of the canyon, about a 400 foot ascent.
Following lunch, we drove a little further south to Israel’s “grand canyon” called Machtesh Ramon. We stood on the rim of the canyon and looked down to the unique geology of this region. We then drove back to the NE corner of the Negev to Arad. From the citadel of the city, we could look down to the Early Bronze/Caananite city below. However, it was on the citadel that the Judeans built a false worship center. Today, we could see the courtyard of this temple, the altar, and the Holy of Holies. It would the likes of both Hezekiah and Josiah who brought an end to this worship. We remembered the reforms of Josiah (2 Chronicles 34). We also were invited to be a living sacrifice to God (Romans 12:1-2)
Driving east into the Judean Desert, we arrived at Hanokdim, our “Bedouin Camp/Hotel” for the night. We are staying in bungalows for the night. After camel rides into the desert for about 30 minutes, we enjoyed a time of “bedouin hospitality” followed by dinner. After dinner we gathered together under the stars for a time of worship and sharing around a camp fire.
DAY 13 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, TEL AVIV
(This day may not be posted until the end of the trip).