Gath Dig – Day 5 – Friday, June 29

Gath Dig – Day 5

Today was my last day of digging at Tel es Safi/Gath. All went well, with some very confirming things discovered in our area. Once again, the sun was bright and temps were about 90.

Confirmation of a Gate?

Gath

The digging starts!

Most things discovered in archaeology boils down to how one interprets what is found. This implies that certain presuppositions go into deciding both where to dig and also what to dig for. One of the primary objectives in Area D East was to determine whether the hypothesis of locating the city gates here is correct. With this being the 4th season of digging in this area, the question was whether the walls and other stone (and mud-brick) structures uncovered the last three years were indeed part of a gate? So far after this first full week of digging, signs are favorable that this working theory is correct.

What was discovered specifically in our area (as well as in the adjacent square to the east of us) was a series of stones that seem to be patterned in a way that resembles both a chamber of a gate as well as the floor & steps leading into the gate. Some of these stones were massive, perhaps used as a sofsal (bench) were the gate keeper, official, or judge. Other stones were small, perhaps suggesting that these were used as the pavement or steps leading up into the city.

Gath

The digging continues

The dating of all of this covers three apparent phases: Iron Age I (the 11th century wall), Iron Age I A (the stone gate, 10th century, incorporated into the 11th century wall), and later int he Iron Age I (the mud-brick walls that, as it is suggested, were temporary walls built across the entrance of the stone gate for extra fortification against Hazael. See 2 Kings 12:17. These walls that date to the 9th century). This means that these structures are built by the Philistines who lived here up until 830 BC when Hazael destroyed the city. Incidentally, much of our work in this square was to actually remove most of this 9th century mud-brick wall in order to find out what is underneath. This wall was also built on simple fill, suggesting that built quickly.

Both archaeologists (Dr. Maier and Dr. Chadwick) are quite optimistic about what was uncovered this first full week of digging.

flint at Gath

A serrated flint piece

Among some of the finds in our square included a lot of pottery again, another oil lamp, and a flint stone used as a utility knife.

The Site Tour

Gath

The digging ends

Before leaving the site, we were led on a site tour of all the areas being excavated. We visited Areas K and M. These were brand new areas just opened up this week. By the use of magnetometryit is possible to actually see walls may be located under the ground. So far in just a week, the top of one of these stone wall structures was found just about a foot under the ground. These stone structures also link us to the Philistines.

Return to the Kibbutz

We returned to the kibbutz at 1:20. It was a successful week of digging at Gath! We left behind a huge dirt pile of earth removed from our squares. But we took with us a sense of understanding biblical history that much more! Once again, archaeology continues to confirm the historicity of the Bible!

For updates on the rest of the trip, go HERE. This site will be updated periodically over the next few weeks.

For more pictures from today, see below.

Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018
Gath es Safi archaeological dig Israel June 2018

 

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Gath Dig – Day 4 – Thursday, June 28

Gath Dig – Day 4

Iron Age wall Gath

Iron Age fortification wall at Gath

Today was another dig day. This means an early start at 5:20, arriving at the site by 5:30, and digging shortly before 6 a.m. The weather was again sunny, with morning/late morning temps in the high 80s.

Archaeological Approach

dirt pile Gath

Our growing pile of dirt at Gath

When we arrive at the site each morning, the procedure is this: Put up breakfast/break canopy; unlock chairs and tables and put them up too (seating for lunch and breaks); take all metal tools out of there trailer and that them to the area; raise the dig canopy over our area; map out a game plan for your square (in conversation with the area supervisor), and begin digging. Biblical archaeology is not rocket science, but it is science.

Archaeology is done in a way where there is certain way to dig, a certain time to use picks, hand tools, brushes, etc… There is a time to go down quickly (e.g. in order to find lower levels that may be stone walls, etc…) and a time to excavate more slowly. At all times, we are on the careful lookout for pottery, bones, and special objects.

grinding stone

A grinding stone

We also set loci (location levels) and gather pottery (and bones) into buckets from that locus. Based on the pottery and architecture uncovered (e.g. walls, whether they are mud-brick or stone), we gain a good sense of the stratification of each level we are digging through.

The Day’s Highlights

Today’s highlights in the square where I was working in were a few. First, we were able to dig through about a foot and a half of dirt today. Our objective is to hopefully find part of the gate structure that is believed to be still under us. Along the way, I have a basaltic grinding stone. This is classified as a special object. Levels were taken where it was uncovered, along with publishable pictures. Finding grinding stones is not that uncommon, but it was the first object found in our area so far.

Philistine pottery

Philistine flask

We continued to find lots of Philistine pottery as well. All totaled, we collected about 4 full buckets of pottery today, with lots of rims, bases, and bi-chrome ware. We even found a very nice top of a flash again (pictured). If we are digging in a chambered gate, the volume of pottery we are pulling from this area (maybe the gate?) should not be surprising. By the way, Philistine pottery is much different than Israelite pottery.

In our square and in the square next to us, we are hopeful that we both will be excavating down to the other side of the gate. This is at least the theory. While my last day is tomorrow, the dig continues for 3 more weeks. So hopeful some confirmation will eventually come to prove the theory correctly. 🙂

Pottery Washing & Reading

pottery from Gath

One day’s worth of pottery drying in the sun

After our watermelon break at 11 a.m., we continued to dig for another hour before packing it in for the day. We returned home for lunch and pottery washing in the afternoon. We also had our first pottery reading as well, with the experts (Dr. Erin Maeir) sitting around the table and identifying all the pottery food so far.

We also enjoyed a pizza party for dinner. Given how below par the food has been all week so far, the pizza was enjoyed by all!

Bedtime came early for most of us although some stay up and watch a World Cup soccer match. Not for this old guy! 🙂

Here are all the pictures from today.

Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 pottery bucket
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 fortification wall
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 watermelon break
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 bulk lines
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018

 

Tomorrow is my last day to dig. An update will be shared.

 

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Gath Dig – Day 3 – Wednesday, June 27

Gath Dig – Day 3

Today was another early alarm clock day, getting up about 4:45 and leaving the kibbutz around 5:20. The day would be warm, with highs in the 90s. This is one reason why all excavations take place during the morning and early afternoon hours.

Highlight Discoveries

Clay flask

A spout of a Philistine clay flask

In the square where I am digging, we have an Israeli gal (Ahuva), a German gal (Ericka), and an New Zealander (John). We are digging inside an area where there may be the outer gate of the city. It it believed that already two chambers of this outer gate were uncovered in the last few seasons. Below our square is a 12th century wall (Iron Age I or IA I – 1,200 – 1,000 BC). However, towards the end of the IA I period and into the IA II period (1,000 BC – 586 BC), a gate may have been part of the fortification wall in this location.

Gath es safi dig

Work in our square (Ericka from Germany and John from New Zealand)

We moved a lot of dirt again today, much more than every other square in Area D East. We found about 10 bases of small storage jars, a rim of an oil lamp, and a spout of a flask. All totaled, our square yielded 2.5 buckets of pottery, more than any other square in our area. All of it was either IA I or IA II.

Once again, we started digging around 5:45, with a 10 minute coffee break at 7 a.m. and breakfast at 9 a.m. At 11 a.m. is our “melon” break (watermelon and cantaloupe). While working under the shade of the canopy, the air is hot. So the fruit is a nice refreshing snack!

Pottery Washing

Philistine ware

Philistine ware

We returned back to the kibbutz for lunch. At 3 p.m., we all joined in with pottery washing. Together we scrub all the pottery from the buckets taken from the site yesterday (they sit in water for a day). Not a lot of pottery was pulled yesterday, so it did not take too long. Washing pottery is a very important task, for it’s the pottery that helps us date structures (e.g. stone or mud-brick walls, and other architecture).

The rest of the day was for napping, relaxing, dinner and going to bed early! It all starts again tomorrow at 4:45 a.m.!

For all the pictures from today:

Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Gate chamber?
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation oil lamp
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
spout flask Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery washing
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery washing
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation Philistine ware
Gath es Safi June 2018 Excavation pottery guide

 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s update!

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Gath Dig – Day 2 – Tuesday, June 26

Gath Dig – Day 2

Today was the second day of the Gath dig and first real excavating day. We again left at 5:20 and arrived at the site for sunrise to the east. It would be a productive day of getting into our squares.

Shade Canopy Raising

Gath

Raising of the shade canopy at Area D at Gath

Shortly after arriving and unloading the equipment & tools for the day, we raised the shade canopy. Supported by about 25 poles and tension lines, we all together raised our poles and up went the canopy. Each square now in Area D is now shaded from the hot Israel sun.

The Digging Begins

So with tools in hand (picks, tareas -hoes, hand tools, spades, and brushes, etc…), we began to dig. Each square is managed by a square supervisor. The square where I am digging is located just inside the 12th century BC fortification wall. It shows promise that this was also the location of a city gate. But we’ll see what is discovered over the next 3.5 weeks. The area supervisor is Dr. Jeff Chadwick from BYU University here in Jerusalem.

Philistine ware Gath

Philistine ware

The digging begins within each square by first getting elevation readings and then determining how to continue to dig down based on last year’s records. The objective (and hope) in our square is to get down to a level that matches the possible two “chambers” protruding from the opposite wall. By the end of the day we dug down about 8-10 inches.

Of course a dirt pile was started. We discard dirt from the squares by using small buckets. We then carry them to the wheel-barrows and then dump it in one pile. From early morning to when we left the site at 1 p.m., the dirt pile is off to a good start. :). It’s getting bigger and bigger. This is the non-glamorous part of archaeology.

Buckets for pottery and bones are also used. Each piece of pottery that comes from the squares is collected in buckets and recorded. “Special finds” (e.g. objects) will get their own identification. In our square we filled about 1.5 buckets with pottery. Some pieces were large jar handles, while other pieces were classic 2-color bi-chrome ware. This type of pottery is Philistine from the 10th century. Reddish pottery (9th century BC) is also Philistine in nature.

Back to the Kibbutz

Re returned back to the kibbutz by 1:30 for lunch. We brought back the buckets of pottery from each of the squares. We filled the buckets with water and will wash and sort this pottery tomorrow. A few lectures took place this afternoon and evening.

For a complete collection of pictures from the day:

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More updates tomorrow.

 

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Gath Dig – Day 1 – Monday, June 25

Gath Dig – Day 1

Today was essentially a “prepare the site” and “set-up” day at the Gathering excavation.

Early Rise & Start

archaeology toolsLike every archaeological dig in Israel, an early rise and start is how each day begins. We got up at 5 a.m. and were on the bus by 5:20. It is a short drive to Gath/es Safi (10 minutes), making it convenient.  Arriving at the site, we were greeted by our first sunrise of the week over the Hill Country of Judah to the east.

Cleaning Area D

 

Gath Area DMost of the morning was spent cleaning and preparing the site for excavation. The bulk of the team this year will be digging at Area D. Located down the slope of the tel (ancient mound) of Gath, this area has already been excavated the last few seasons. The impressive find from last year is a massive city fortification wall that dates to the 12th through the 9th century BC (IA I & II). The hope is to dig inside and around this wall to try and locate the lower city gate. If the gate is identified, it will be exciting because it was here at this gate at Gath where David “acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard (see 1 Samuel 21:12).” We’ll see what is discovered over the course of the 4 weeks (I am only digging for one week).

So since all of what was dug last year was covered with protective tarps/fabric, and because the area was overgrown with weeds, thistles, briars, and all kinds of wild vegetation growth, we first “weeded” essentially the area. We also took off all the tarps and set them aside. We took a break for “breakfast” (sandwiches, yogurts, vegetables, etc…) at 9 a.m., with a later watermelon/cantaloupe break at about 11 a.m. We enjoyed the break from the sun.

Preparing the shade canopy

Gath es safi dig

Gath es safi dig

The last thing we accomplished was to spread out and prepare the shade canopy over where we will be excavating tomorrow. It really takes a whole team to not only clean the site from last year’s weeds, but also to spread out the canopy. We will raise it tomorrow when we arrive.

So while we didn’t really do any archeological digging today, it was a successful day of preparation.

About 17 college students from Colorado Christian University are here helping with the dig. In their youth, they are all offering great help already!

Azekah

After arriving back at the kibbutz at 1:30 or so, we enjoyed lunch. At 3, Dr. Maeir took the group to near by Azekah for a tour of this archaeological site. We returned for a lecture and dinner, with a free rest of the evening. The CCU students had a very nice time of worship at 8 p.m. as we watched the sunset over Ashdod on the Mediterranean coastline. Once we begin excavating, we will also be washing pottery as a team. So tomorrow afternoon and evening (and every day after digging) will be filled with this task.

For all the pictures from today:

Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
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Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018
Tel Azekah June 2018

 

Be watching for a new update tomorrow (Tuesday).

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Gath Dig – Arrival Day – Sunday, June 24

Gath Dig – Arrival Day

Today was “arrival day” at the Gath (Tel es Safi). This is the 23rd season for this archaeological excavation. The Director for the dig is Israeli archaeologist Dr. Erin Maeir. Gath is located in the Shephelah of Judah.

Arrival

Philistines at GathWe arrived at Kibbutz Manachem. Most arrived at around noon. Some of the projects of the afternoon were to transfer the tools and equipment for the site from the storage containers near by. We also checked into our rooms, met some of the staff of the excavations, and lunch.

Tour of the Site

At 3 p.m., we bussed to the site of Gath. The tour of the entire tel was led by Dr. Maeir. We walked to the top of the site from the northern side. The site has occupation levels from Early Bronze/Canaanite (3,500 – 2,050 BC) through the Late Bronze/Canaanite (2,050 – 1,500 BC) and Iron Age I & II/Israelite periods (1,200 – 586 BC). The site of Gath was a massive city occupied by both Canaanites and Philistines. When the Philistines were here (from 1,200 – 830 BC when the city was destroyed by Hazael, the Aramean king from the north (2 Kings 12:17). The tour took nearly two hours.

Tel Gath

Tel Gath / es Safi

We returned to the kibbutz for dinner. Since we bus to the site at 5:20 a.m. tomorrow morning, it’s early to bed for most of us!

The area of excavation will be on the lower portion of the site, concentrating on Iron Age/Israelite. It is a privilege and honor to dig here this summer!

Below are more pictures from today’s tour of the site.

Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018

 

Updates will be posted every day.

 

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 13 & 14

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, JUNE 22: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, BETH SHEMESH/SOREK VALLEY, QEIYAFA/ELAH VALLEY

Today was our last full day in Israel. It was a hot and dry one, with high temps about 105 at the Dead Sea area and 90s later in the afternoon. 

Masada

Sunrise

Sunrise on the Dead Sea

Leaving the hotel just before 8 a.m. (greeted by a wonderful sunrise), we drove just a short 15 minutes to Masada. On the way we read from Psalm 18:1-2 about God being our metzada (“fortress”). The site of Masada may also have been David’s stronghold as mentioned in the last part of 1 Samuel 24.

We took the cable car to the top. From both Eli and Shlomo, we heard the remarkable story of 967 Jews who found refuge from the Romans on this “palace-fortress” from 70-73 AD (originally built by Herod the Great about 100 years prior). All but 5 of them took their own lives, convinced that this was a better way to die than to fall to the swords of the Romans.

masada

Masada (northern palace)

On top we saw one of Herod’s palaces (he also had a three-tier northern palace), the case-mate wall, the Roman ramp (on the west side), the bathhouse, and the synagogue. Because of the heat, the Snake Path was closed, preventing us from walking down. So we all descended on the cable car.

Engedi

Engedi Israel

Engedi

About 15 minutes north is Engedi. Walking up into the canyon (Wadi David), we read from Songs of Songs 1 (“henna blossoms of Ein Gedi…”), 2 Chronicles 20, and 1 Samuel 24. This last story involves David hiding from Saul in one of the many caves here. We also walked back to the 2nd water falls, with some enjoying getting wet under some of the water falls. This must have also been an oasis of water back in biblical days! It is also the home of many ibex and coneys (Psalm 104). We saw many ibex!

Qumran

Cave 1 Qumran

Inside Cave 1 at Qumran

The last site here in the Judean Desert along the Dead Sea was Qumran. During the lunch hour, some braved the extreme heat and hiked to Cave 1. This was where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Biblical scholarship changed with this discovery in 1947!

After the lunch hour, we visited the small archaeological site of Qumran. We saw any miqvot (ritual baths), the scriptorium, and the aqueduct. In front of Cave 4 (one of 12 caves now where scrolls were found), we read from “Psalm 151” (one of a few extra psalms found here at Qumran, written by David), 2 Timothy 3:16, and Psalm 19. Praise God for the preservation of His Word!

Beth Shemesh

Beth Shemesh

Beth Shemesh

From here we drove north and then west to Jerusalem. Ascending up and over Israel’s capital, we descended down on the western side to the Shephelah (lowlands) of Judah. The first site (of two in this region) was Beth Shemesh. Climbing the southern end of the site, we viewed the Sorek Valley, Zorah & Eshtaol (where Samson was from, Judges 13), Timnah (where Delilah was from….it is located down the valley just a few miles to the west). We read from 1 Samuel 6 about how the Ark of the Covenant was returned here by the Philistines.

Kh. Qeiyafa

Qeiyafa

The Elah Valley (from Kh. Qeiyafa) where David defeated Goliath

Our last site of the day (and the tour) is a relatively new archaeological site called Kh. Qeiyafa. It is located along the Elah Valley. It may have been the ancient city of Shaaraim. We read from 1 Samuel 17 and could see David defeating the Goliath, the Philistine giant, in the narrow part of the valley to the east. We rejoiced together that God offers His help in all of our own battles of life!

Leaving the site, we drove west to our hotel in Tel Aviv. We enjoyed dinner together, followed by a free evening.  We pack up and leave on three different flights in the morning.

DAY 14 – SATURDAY, JUNE 23: ARRIVAL BACK IN THE U.S.A.

This morning we will fly home. Praise be to God for everyone He brought together!

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 12

DAY 12 – THURSDAY, JUNE 21: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, EIN BOKEK/DEAD SEA

With Sammy’s wake-up call, we arose out of our private tents for breakfast. After packing up the bus, we said goodbye to the Wadi Rum desert enroute for the Israel border. The day would be a warmer, with temps in the afternoon in the low 100s.

Rabin Border Crossing / Coral Beach – Red Sea

Coral Beach

Coral beach, Elat

It took about an hour’s drive to reach the border with Israel. This southern border crossing is called the Rabin Border, named after the late Prime Minister. The crossing went smoothly. 57 of us crossed in about 75 minutes! We were met on the Israeli side by Shlomo and Eli (our guides) and our Israeli drivers.

Upon packing up, we drove to Elat and to Coral Beach. Many went swimming the Red Sea. The fish, coral, and deep blue color of the water was remarkable! The underwater world of God’s creation is also beautiful!

Timnah

Tabernacle Model

The Tabernacle Model at Timnah

Driving north we arrived at Timnah. This was an ancient Egyptian copper mine back in the days of the 14-12th centuries BC. We drove around to the other side of Timnah to the full-scale replica of the Tabernacle. The dimensions are 150 x 75 feet. We were guided by a Messianic believer who shared the details of the Tabernacle as well as the many ways in which Christ fulfilled the Tabernacle. We read from Hebrews 9. Before leaving Timnah, we also saw Solomon’s Pillars, with some in the group hiking up and around this unique stone cliff.

Yovata

Continuing north we stopped for a late lunch at Yovata. This is a dairy kibbutz in southern Israel that has some of the best ice cream!  We enjoyed the many flavors they offered!

Ein Bokek/Dead Sea Hotel

Dead Sea

Southern end of the Dead Sea (at Ein Bokek)

About two hours north is the hotel city of Ein Bokek. It is located on the southern end of the Dead Sea. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner and a free evening. Some also floated again prior to dinner in the Dead Sea and/or in the hotel pool filled with Dead Sea water. 

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, JUNE 22: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, QEIYAFA/ELAH VALLEY, GEZER

This will be our last full day!

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 11

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: PETRA, WADI RUM

Wow… what an incredible day and with an amazing display of God’s glory and splendor in the unique beauty of His creation. We enjoyed the sun and temps in the 80s.

Petra

Petra

Petra’s famous “Treasury” Tomb

Leaving the hotel at 7:30 again after breakfast ad packing up, we drove to the entrance of the ancient Nabatean city of Petra! This is the heart of the Seir Mountains, the land of the Edomites of the Old Testament. This is a red-rose city that is one of the seven wonders of the world! We spent 7 hours here!

Entering the site together, we walked through the 1.5 mile Siq or the canyon of Petra. It brought us to the first monument , the famous “Treasury” or “Al-Khazneh.” This well-preserved monumental tomb appeared in the movie “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” 

High place petra

The High Place at Petra

From here we continued into this city of tombs to the theater form the 1st century AD. We also passed by the Royal Tombs (e.g. Urn Tomb). Some explored these tombs. About 20 in the group continued down the Roman street to the trail that leads to the second most famous tomb, the Monastery tomb. From just above this tomb we could see across the Aravah valley into Israel!

We all returned to the Treasury for our walk out of the Siq back to the visitor center. Nine in the group, however, hiked up a back trail to the High Place. While this hike was more difficult, the view from the top made it worth it!

Wadi Rum

Jeep rides wadi rum

Jeep rides at Wadi Rum

Leaving the site of Petra at 3 p.m., we drive south to Wadi Rum. Here we enjoyed an amazing jeep ride in the desert. Some road camels while all of us enjoyed the sunset over the beautiful mountains to the west. We then stay in Wadi Rum at Captain’s, a Bedouin Village. We ate dinner together in Bedouin style. This was followed by a brief devotional time under the brilliant desert stars. 

The entire day was a unique experience!

DAY 12 – THURSDAY, JUNE 21: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, EIN BOKEK/DEAD SEA

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June 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 10

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, JUNE 19: ALLENBY BRIDGE, BETHANY BEYOND THE JORDAN, MT. NEBO, MEDEBA, MACHAERUS, PETRA

Today we left Jerusalem and drove to the border with Jordan. The weather was again predictably sunny and comfortably warm, Wirth highs around 90.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

Bethany beyond the jordan

The view from “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” back to Jericho in Israel

It took about 50 minutes to drive to the Allenby Border Crossing. From departing Israel to completing the passport process in Jordan, the whole crossing took about two hours. On the Jordan side we met our guides, Sam and Wa’el. Driving just a short distance we arrived at Bethany Beyond the Jordan. We walked down to the Jordan River. Jesus was baptized in this area (John 1). In the days of the OT, Elijah also was taken to heaven here (2 Kings 2). We also read from Joshua 3 about the crossing of the Jordan River.

Mt. Nebo

Mt. Nebo

The view of the “Promised Land” from Mt. Nebo

Driving up the mountains of Moab, we arrived at Mt. Nebo. On the way we were delayed because of the car on fire on the side of the road. The view from on top was very good. We could clearly see the Dead Sea, Jericho, and even the taller buildings in Jerusalem! We read from Deuteronomy 31, 34, and Joshua 1. Moses died here and handed the leadership over to Joshua. His words, “Do not be afraid or discouraged…” reminded us to trust in God even though we do know know what tomorrow may bring. Nearby we stopped at a mosaic school and store. Handicapped people learn to do mosaics here. We also saw a replica of the Medeba Map, a mosaic map dating to the 6th century AD.

Machaerus

Machaerus

Machaerus

About an hour’s drive from here is Machaerus. This was first a Jewish-Hasmonian palace-fortress built by Jannaeus in about 100 BC. Later Herod the Great rebuilt it as one of his palace-fortresses. It would late serve as a fortress by Jewish rebels in the First Revolt (66 AD). Climbing to the top the view of there Dead Sea and the Judean Desert to the west was amazing! On top we saw the palace where John the Baptist’s head was brought (Matthew 14) as well as a few Jewish miqve (ritual baths).

Drive to Petra

Returning close to Medeba, we drove on the Desert Highway to Wadi Musa or the city of ancient Petra. It is located in the area of ancient Edom. The drive took about 3.5 hours. We stopped once on the way for snacks and bathrooms. We checked in to our very nice hotel, enjoyed dinner together, and then retired for the evening. We are excited to experience Petra tomorrow!

DAY 11 – WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: PETRA, WADI RUM

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