DAY 6 – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22: BETH SHEAN, QUMRAN, EIN GEDI, DEAD SEA
Today we left the Sea of Galilee region and drove southward. We read from portions of Matthew 5-7 as we started the day. Our final destination was the Dead Sea. It rained overnight, but there were only a few lingering showers in the morning. The afternoon was sunny, with highs around 70.
We left at 7:30 this morning and drove to Beth Shean. Located about 20 miles south of the Southern end of the Sea of Galilee, this was once an Old Testament city as well as an impressive Roman one. We saw many things here, including a Roman bathhouse, a colonnaded street, the agora/forum, mosaics, many pillars, public latrenes, and an intact theater. Some in the group climbed the OT site for a view of the Roman city below. We read from I Samuel 31 (Saul and his three sons). Seeing the pillars standing firm, we also remembered what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15.
We drove down through the Jordan Valley past Jericho to the northern end of the Dead Sea. Located on the NE corner of the sea is Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered here in 1947. After eating lunch here, we visited the archaeological site. We saw a number of miqvot (ritual baths), cisterns, and the area of the scriptorium. Scrolls have been found in 12 caves so far. Standing in front of Cave 4 & 10 (and where 5 used to be), we read from Psalm 151, and extra psalm of David found here. We rejoiced in the amazing preservation of God’s Word here and the joy and guidance the Scriptures offers us.
“It’s so hard to pick what site was my favorite today. I loved the massive size of Beth Shean and the significance of Qumran, but I also loved the hiking at Engedi. Hard to believe there is this much water here in the desert! Both sites were incredible to see” -Tour Member-
Our last stop of the day was Engedi. This is an oasis here on the edge of the Judean Desert, with water that flows all year around. Walking up through the Wadi David, we stopped to read 1 Samuel 24. David hid from King Saul here. We then hiked back to the last (and tallest) waterfalls. It was incredibly beautiful!
Ein Bokek/Dead Sea
Continuing south to the southern end of the Dead Sea, we checked into our very nice hotel (David’s) in Ein Bokek. Most in the group changed up into swimming suits for the unique experience of floating in this unique water (33% salt & mineral). We then enjoyed dinner at the hotel.