DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 18: ARAD, SHILOH, JUDEAN DESERT, DEAD SEA
Today was a partly sunny day, with highs in the 60s. Waking up in the desert in our “huts” and stepping out to see a beautiful sunrise was special. Our itinerary was also tweaked a bit today, taking us through the Hill Country of Judah & Samaria.
Leaving our Bedouin camp at 7:30, we drove to Tel Arad. This was originally a Canaanite city from the Early Bronze period. It was later taken by Joshua (Josh 12). On the top of the tel (the citadel), we saw Israelite ruins, including a false temple built here by Judeans in the 8-7th centuries BC. It was discovered in 1962. Good kings like Hezekiah and Josiah brought an end to these high places (2 Chr. 30 & 34). Standing in the main chamber of the temple we considered how God wants us to be living sacrifices to Him (Romans 12:1-2). From here we walked down to the earlier Canaanite ruins to see the well, the broad houses, and the impressive walls and towers of the city.
The Drive to Shiloh
Driving north from here was very interesting. We drove past Tel Ziph (1 Samuel 23), and Maon (I Samuel 25, where Nabal and Abagail were from). Passing by Hebron (where the Patriarchs are buried, Gen. 35, 49), we drove around the western side of Jerusalem. Upon reaching the north side, we continued north past Bethel (Gen. 15, 26), Ai (Joshua 7-8), and Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14).
“The Bible just keeps on coming alive for me, and we are not even yet into the area where Jesus served! I did not know how rich the Old Testament is with exciting story after story. I can’t wait to get to the Galilee where the Gospels will come alive too.” -Tour Member –
When we arrived at Shiloh, we climbed to the top of the tel. Here we first watched a short movie about the life of Hannah, Samuel, and the Tabernacle. We read about the call to Samuel by God (1 Sam. 3) and the destruction of the Tabernacle (1 Sam. 4). We also considered the words of Jeremiah (Jer. 7), mentioning Shiloh specifically. Before leaving, we walked down to the area suggested to be where the Tabernacle once stood a little over 300 years!
On our way back south we ran into two long traffic jams caused by accidents. On the road leading to the Desert of Pareth (Jer. 7), we saw an partial overturned bus booking the road. Backtracking to the main Jerusalem-Jericho road, we also were delayed about 45 minutes. However, we did stop at an amazing overlook of Wadi Qelt. Here we heard the prophet “Isaiah” share encouraging words about preparing the way for the Lord (Is. 40). Shlomo also sang Psalm 23. This area of the Judean Desert serves as the backdrop for these passages.
Because of the lack of time to stop at Jericho (we’ll see it tomorrow), we ended the day by floating in the Dead Sea. It was an amazing sensation! Many coated themselves with mud!
At our hotel nearby (Al Mog), we enjoyed dinner and a free evening together.