DAY 13 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15:
Today was our last full day here in Israel. Rising with the sunrise in the desert this morning, we enjoyed a simple breakfast before packing up and driving east towards the most impressive of all of Herod the Great’s fortresses – Masada! We read Psalm 18:1-2 as we began the day, rejoicing that God is our “metzada” – our fortress! Today would be a predictably hot day as we traveled along the Dead Sea area.
Masada was a fortress built by Herod but then later used by 967 Jews between 70-73 AD. These Jews found refuge up here against Silva and the Romans. Since we approached the site from the west, most in the group hiked to the top up the Roman ramp, while others bussed around to the other side, taking the cable car up. Once on top, we saw storehouses, cisterns, the casemate wall, the synagogue, the bathhouse, and the impressive northern palace. We exited the site by taking here cable car back down. Some in the group hiked down the Snake Path.
Driving a short distance north along the Dead Sea, our next stop was Engedi. This was where David hid from King Saul. We read from 1 Samuel 24, as well as from Song of Songs 1. We hiked back to some of the water falls and enjoyed getting wet! It is such a beautiful area! No wonder David came to this “oasis in the desert.” We even saw a few ibex and coneys here.
Our last site of the day was Qumran. This was where the Essenes scribed the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important archaeological find in all of Israel. During the lunch hour, some in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found in 1947 (including the famous Isaiah Scolls). At the site we saw many miqvot (ritual baths), cisterns, and the scriptorium. In front of Cave 4 (a total of 12 caves have now been identified), we read from “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm written by David), and Psalm 19. We rejoiced together in the preservation of God’s Word!
From here we drove west up towards Jerusalem. On the way, we stopped for quick showers along the Dead Sea as well as a Hebron glass store in Jericho. Skirting around the city center of Jerusalem, we continued to Abu Gosh for our farewell dinner. The food was tasty and it was a great time of reviewing the entire trip and sharing. We then drove to the Ben Gurion Airport for our night flight home.
NOTE: At present, we are awaiting our flight home. The web site and pictures will be updated sometime later on Saturday.
DAY 14: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: ARRIVE BACK IN THE U.S.A.
We plan to arrive back in the States today. What an incredible trip! Praise be to God for a life-changing experience!