DAY 4 – TUESDAY, MAY 7: BE’ER SHEVA, SDE BOKER, MACHTESH RAMON, TIMNAH, ELAT, TABA CROSSING INTO SINAI, TABA HEIGHTS
Today was a sunny and mild day, with highs around 75. Being here in the Negev of Israel this time of year, this is actually on the cool side. After breakfast we checked out, loaded the bus, and started our second full day. We read Psalm 126.
Our drive to Tel Beersheba was only about 10 minutes. This is primarily an archaeological site that dates to the Israelite period (10th – 6th century BC). The phrase “from Dan to Beersheba” is used a lot to describe the northern and southern boundaries of the land. Climbing the tel, we saw a replica of the four-horned altar, a water well, a Solomonic gate and storehouses, the city’s casemate wall, and a number of 4-room Israelite houses. By the water well, we read from Genesis 21 (about Abraham making a treaty here). Isaac was also here (Gen. 26). So was Jacob (Gen. 49) and Elijah (1 Kings 19). We also remembered Psalm 23. It is His cup (e.g. well trough) that overflows continually with His goodness towards us. We left the site by descending down through the impressive water cistern.
Driving south to the Desert of Zin, we visited David Ben Gurion’s grave. This first Prime Minister of Israel in 1948 and his wife (Paula) are buried here. He loved the Negev and actually lived here in a modest house during his last years. The view of the Zin was spectacular. The 12 spies (Numbers 13) came up through here. Also, Moses struck the rock for water here as well (Numbers 20).
Continuing southward, we drove to the rim of Israel’s grand canyon. It is called the Machtesh Ramon. The unique geological formations make for a great panoramic picture. We then drove down through this “crater” and through the Desert of Paran. We stopped at the Yovata kibbutz for lunch and for their famous ice cream!
“Today we drove through the southern region of Israel. Since not many groups come down this far, it was great to connect with the Bible today at places like Beersheba, the Desert of Zin, and the Tabernacle Model at Timnah.” -Tour Member-
Our last site of the day was Timnah. This was an ancient Egyptian coper mine used in the 14-13th century BC. Geologically, the rock formations are unique here as well. But we came to see the full-size model of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting. Zach, a local guide, walked us around the court yard and into the Holy Chamber. Inside this chamber was the Table of God’s Presence (Shewbread), the Menorah, and the incense altar. Inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. We read form Hebrews 9 how Jesus came and fulfilled the role of the High Priest through his once and for all sacrifice!
Red Sea/Elat/Taba Border
With the Red Sea now in view as we drove to the southern border of Israel, we drove through Elat (an Israeli city of about 60,000) to the Taba Border Crossing. We unloaded our “night bags,” said goodbye to David (our driver) for one day), and proceeded through passport and customs into the Sinai! This portion of the Sinai was given back to Egypt in June, 1982. The crossing went as anticipated, with a lot of bags and passport checked along the way. Finally on the Egyptian side, we met our Egyptian agent and bus. We drove a short distance to the beautiful Movenpick Hotel right on the Red Sea! Some enjoyed swimming before we ate dinner together. At 10:30 p.m., 21 of us drove three hours to the southern tip of the Sinai Desert for our night hike under the stars up the traditional Mt. Sinai. The rest in the group who choose not to hike enjoyed a good nights sleep.