DAY 4 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 16: BEERSHEBA, SDE BOKER, WILDERNESS OF ZIN, ARAD, JUDEAN DESERT
On this second full day here in Israel, we once again enjoyed sunny and mild weather, with highs near 70. We spent the entire day in the Negev in the southern region of Israel.
Following another full breakfast, we departed our hotel about 7:30. The drive to Tel Beersheba was a short one. Upon arriving at the site, we immediately saw a replica of the 4-horned altar that was found here. Walking to the top of the site, we saw a deep water well. Although this does not date to the time of Patriarchs, we read from Genesis 21 about how Abraham made a treaty here. Later, Isaac (Gen 26), and Jacob (Gen 49) would come here too. Elijah (1 Kings 19) stopped by here on his way to Mt. Horeb/Sinai. We reflected upon Psalm 23 and the “trough/cup that overflows.” Praise God for His goodness that continually overflows into our lives in the dry seasons of life. Among the ruins we also saw a Solomonic gate, and 4-room Israelite houses. We left the site by walking down through the impressive cistern system.
We saw a lot of area today of Israel’s southern region of the Negev. The Zin Desert was amazing. Also, the camel rides at the end of the day was lots of fun! Not sure I will be riding a camel anytime soon though.” -Tour Member-
Sde Boker/Desert of Zin
Driving south through his arid area, our next stop was Sde Boker. This is where David Ben Gurion and his wife Paula are buried. Shlomo shared a bit about the life of Israel’s first Prime Minister in 1948. The view of the Zin Desert was spectacular! We even drove down through this canyon and hiked back to the water falls. About two-thirds in the group hiked to the far rim of the canyon. The ascent was steep but rewarding. We enjoyed popsicles at the end of this hike.We ate lunch nearby at Avdat.
From here we drove to the northeastern area of the Negev and to the site of Tel Arad. This was a one-level Canaanite city that was later on taken by Joshua (Josh. 12) although it’s Canaanite king prevented Moses and the Israelites to pass by this region (Numbers 21). On the top part of the tel (the citadel), we saw what’s left of a false temple built by Judeans. Kings like Hezekiah and Josiah brought an end to this practice (2 Chr. 34). Upon leaving the site, we walked down through the lower Canaanite part of the city.
Hanokdim – Judean Desert
We drove east from here through the modern city of Arad to Hanokdim. This is a Bedouin-like camp serving as our hotel tonight. First, we enjoyed a camel ride. No one fell off! :). We also enjoyed dinner and listening to a Bedouin man talked about his customs. Before retiring for the evening, we sat around a campfire and enjoyed the star-lit sky.
DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 17: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, DEAD SEA