DAY 7 – FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH
Today was sunny and and mild morning here in the Dead Sea area (in the 80s). This would change in the early afternoon, with a surprise thunderstorm that caused torrents of water falls and flooding. This is unique to see this here in a usually dry and unique region of the Bible.
Prior to breakfast, many in the group enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea. In this unique body of water (33% salt and minerals), it is impossible to sink! It was a wild experience for all!
Once we showered up and enjoyed breakfast, we loaded the bus and left about 8:15 for Masada. We read Psalm 18:1-2 on the way, realizing that God is our fortress (“metzada”) and strength! Upon arriving at this palace-fortress built by Herod the Great, we ascended to the top in the cable car. On top we saw the palace, casemate walls, the Roman ramp the synagogue, and the bathhouse. The story of Masada is an amazing one. 967 Jews used Masada as a place of refuge against the Romans after 70 AD. All but five took their own lives in 73 AD. Because of time restrictions, we took the cable car down instead of walking down the Snake Path.
“My favorite site today was Engedi. What an oasis in the middle of the vast Judean desert! And to think that David once hid here from Saul in a cave. He found refuge and refreshment here. It’s a beautiful place! However, a close second was Cave 1 at Qumran and uniquely getting caught in a downpour!” -Tour Member-
Driving north along the western shoreline of there Dead Sea, Engedi was our next stop. Walking into the canyon (“Wadi David”), we paused to read Song of Songs 1 (e.g. the henna blossoms of Engedi), 2 Chronicles 20, and 1 Samuel 24. It was here where David hid from Saul’s pursuit. We also walked back to the second water falls. It was amazing to see so much water here!
Continuing north we arrived at Qumran. During the lunch hour, many explored Cave 1 where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. It was a wild hike because of the downpour and flooding that took place!There was streams of water everywhere! Thankfully we all made it back to the bus safely! Following lunch, we visited the archaeological site. Here we saw many cisterns, ritual baths (miqveh), and a few more caves. In front of Cave 4, we were amazed at the amount water overflowing from the high cliffs! A very unique scene for sure. Before leaving the site, we also read from Psalm 19 and “151” (an extra psalm written by David found in Cave 11 in 1956). We rejoiced in the preservation and authority of Scripture!
On our way to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop at Wadi Qelt. This part of the Judean Desert is most picturesque. Here we heard the words of Isaiah 40 – “Prepare the way for the Lord…” Shlomo also sang Psalm 23. We considered the promises of Jesus being our shepherd. This chalk-limestone wilderness/desert also served as the backdrop for some of David’s psalms (e.g. Psalm 61, 63, etc..).
We arrived at our hotel in Jerusalem as Shabbat was coming in. It was special to see this holy city for the first time! After checking into our hotel, we enjoyed dinner together followed by an optional walk to the Western Wall. It was spectacular to see this most holy place for Jews at night!
We are looking forward to spending the next three days here in Israel’s capital city!