May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 5

DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, MAY 9: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, QASR EL YAHUD/ JORDAN RIVER, DEAD SEA

(Theme of the Day: Claiming God as our fortress & thirsting for Him!) 

The entire day today was spent in the Judean Desert on the western side of the Dead Sea.  It would be a sunny and warmer day, with highs in the upper 80s. 

Masada

Masada

Masada (from the southerly view)

Following a early rise from our “Bedouin tents” and breakfast, we drove just about 6 miles east to Masada. As we approached this famous Jewish site, we read from Psalm 18:1-2 where “metzadais mentioned as the Hebrew word for “fortress.” Upon arriving, most in the group hiked the Roman ramp to the top, while a few others drove around to the eastern side and took the cable car to the top. Masada was one of Herod the Great’s “palace-fortresses” that was later used (after 70 AD) as a place of refuge for about three years for 967 Jews. On top we saw a few massive cisterns, the western palace, the casemate wall, the synagogue, and a glimpse of the northern palace. Since they were working on restoring the Snake Path from last weeks unusual flash floods here, no one could walk down. So we all had to take the cable car to the bottom.

Engedi

Engedi

The oasis of Engedi in the Judean Desert

Driving only about 15 minutes north, we arrived at Engedi. Most in the group walked up the canyon while others visited the Talmudic 3rd century AD synagogue. We read from Songs of Songs 1 (“henna blossoms of Engedi”), 2 Chronicles 20 (“Ascent of Ziz”), and 1 Samuel 24 (the David and Saul “cave encounter”). Hiking up to the water falls, some enjoyed getting wet in the natural springs that flow here all year long.

Qumran

Qumran

The ruins of Qumran

Continuing to drive north about 30 minutes, we came to Qumran. This is no doubt the most significant archeological site in Israel. A number (25?) in the group got dropped off for the hike to “Cave 1” (where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947), while others ate lunch at the visitor center. We also visited the site of Qumran where we saw many mikvot (ritual baths), the scriptorium, and cisterns. In front of Cave 4 we paused to rejoice in the preservation of God’s Word. We also read from “Psalm 151” (humbly written by David). It was found in Cave 11 in 1956.

Qasr El-Yahud

Bethany beyond the Jordan

The Jordan River (near “Bethany beyond the Jordan,” John 1)

Changing our itinerary a little, we made a brief stop to see the Jordan River. The site located across from Jericho is called Qasr El-Yahud. According to John 1, Jesus was baptized near here. While the water is very muddy, many Catholics and Greek Orthodox come here for baptism.

Dead Sea

We ended the day with a float in the remarkable Dead Sea. It contains 33% salt and minerals. Most in the group enjoyed the uniqueness of the float. Some even enjoyed the black mud! It was a wild experience!

Close by was our kibbutz-hotel called Al Mog. We enjoyed dinner together before retiring for the evening.

DAY 6 – THURSDAY, MAY 10: JERICHO, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, SEA OF GALILEE, HIPPOS-SUSSITA

(Theme of the Day: Preparing and recommitting ourselves to trust God) 

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 9

DAY 9 – MONDAY, MARCH 19: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JERICHO, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM

We spent the entire day in the Judean Desert along the west side of the Dead Sea. The sun would be bright with warm but bearable temps in the high 80s.

Masada

Masada

Masada – a palace-fortress built by Herod

Following breakfast and check-out, we left the hotel a little after 7:45. Driving just 15 minutes north along the Dead Sea and reading Psalm 18:1-2 as we started the day (God is my rock, my fortress – “metzada” in Hebrew), our first stop was Masada. Taking the cable-car to the top of this 1,000 foot high “stand alone” fortress originally built by Herod the Great, we saw the ruins (southern palace, Roman ramp, casemate wall, synagogue, northern palace, and bathhouse). We also heard the story of Masada shared passionately by Shlomo. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, Masada was used as a place of refuge for 967 Jews. Leaving the site, we took the cable car back down. Nine in the group hiked down the Snake Path.

Engedi

Engedi

Engedi water falls

Continuing to drive north, we arrived at Engedi, the oasis in the Judean Desert. Walking back into the canyon, we read from Song of Songs 1 (about the henna blossoms of Engedi), 2 Chronicles 20 (the “Ascent of Ziz”) and 1 Samuel 24. This is where David encountered King Saul in a cave. We walked back to the water falls further up in the canyon. Some enjoyed getting very wet!

Qumran

Inside Cave 1 Qumran

Inside of Cave 1 at Qumran

Only about 30 minutes further north is Qumran. This was the most important archaeological site in all of Israel, for this is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. During the lunch hour, 15 in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found (including the famous Isaiah Scrolls). Following lunch we visited the site itself, seeing the ruins of the scribes of the texts, the Essene community. Standing in front of Cave 4 (and where #5 was), we read from “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm found in Cave 11) as well as Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3:16. Praise God for the amazing preservation of God’s Word!

Jericho

Jericho walls

The retaining walls of Jericho

From here we visit Old Testament Jericho. This city is located just north of the Dead Sea. Climbing the “tel,” we first looked east across the Jordan Valley to see Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34). It was in the Jordan River across from where Jesus was baptized (John 1). We also talked about how the archaeology here matches well (“confirms”) the biblical story of Joshua 6. Standing on the southern end, we saw the double retaining stone walls of the city. It was on top of these stone walls that the mud brick wall was placed. It was this mud brick wall that came tumblin’ down when the shofars sounded! Praise God for the reliability of Scripture!

Wadi Qelt & on to Jerusalem

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt – Judean Desert

On our drive west to Jerusalem (18 miles), we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. This is part of the Judean Desert. As the sun was setting, we heard the words of Isaiah 40 shared with us as well as Psalm 23. The desert here serves as the context for these passages!

Arriving in Jerusalem, we checked into our hotel. Upon finishing dinner, we enjoyed an orientation walk to the Western Wall! We walked through the Jewish Quarter of the Old City to there and back. It is exciting to be in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital!

DAY 10 – TUESDAY, MARCH 20: MT. OF OLIVES, GETHSEMANE, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

 

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March 2018 Israel-Jordan Tour Update – Day 8

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, MARCH 18: SOUTHERN BORDER CROSSING INTO ISRAEL, RED SEA, TIMNAH, EIN BOKEK/DEAD SEA

Today was a “cross-over” day once again. We awoke to Sammy’s (our guide) unique “wakie wakie” wake-up call. So we rolled out of our tents here in Wadi Rum around 6 am. The warm sun greeted us, with high temps at the end of the day about 90.

Jordan-Israel Crossing / Read Sea – Coral Beach

Red Sea

The beautiful Red Sea in Elat, Israel

Driving from Wadi Rum to the southern border crossing at Aqaba/Elat took about an hour. With no groups ahead of us, this Rabin crossing only took about an hour. David and Shlomo greeted us on the other side. After loading up the bus, we drove to Coral Beach where a number of people enjoyed a swim in the Red Sea. The water was clear and the coral and fish were amazing!

Timnah – Tabernacle Model

Tabernacle Model

The Tabernacle Model at Timnah

Driving north about 20 miles we arrived at Timnah. In the 13th century BC, this was the site of an Egyptian copper mine. After seeing a brief movie about the copper found here, we drove to the display of a full-size Tabernacle was described in the Old Testament. 150 x 75 feet was the size. 50 chapters in the OT are dedicated to the design, building, and use of this Tent of Meeting. We were guided around the model, seeing in the courtyard the sacrificial altar and the bronze laven. In the Holy Chamber we saw the Table of Showbread, the Menorah, and the Incense Altar. The priest and High Priest were also adorned in their garments. In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. We read from Hebrews 9 about how Jesus came to fulfill the sacrificial system once and for all.

Yotvata

Ice cream Yotvata

Enjoying some ice cream at Yotvata

For lunch we drove just a few miles north to a dairy-kibbutz called Yotvata. Here we met Shlomo’s sister. We also enjoyed incredible ice cream here!

Dead Sea

Send Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

We drove just shy of two hours to our hotel located on the southern end of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47). Upon checking in, many quickly changed and walked down to the shoreline of the Dead Sea. This unique body of water is about 33% salt and mineral, making it impossible to sink. As the sun set to the west, the appearance of the Jordanian mountains on the other side took almost a pink color. To float here was a fun experience! After getting showers, we enjoyed dinner and a free night.

DAY 9 – MONDAY, MARCH 19: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JERICHO, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM

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February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 5

DAY 5 – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13: MT. OF BEATITUDES, BEIT SHEAN, JERICHO, DEAD SEA

Today we left the Sea of Galilee area and drove south. Our final destination today on a day that started with steady rain through the first part of the morning was the Dead Sea. The weather improved as by late morning, with sun and clouds and highs in the 70s.

Mt. of Beatitudes

Mt. of Beatitudes

The Mt. of Beatitudes on a rainy morning

Leaving our hotel shortly after 7:30 again, we first drove to the Mt. Of Beatitudes. This was one location where Jesus delivered His sermon on the kingdom principles (this sermon would be His “go-to” message, and He shared it in other places too, see Luke 6:17-49). Overlooking a natural amphitheater and huddling together under umbrellas, we heard part of Matthew 5 in Hebrew and then in English. We enjoyed a time of reflection, song, and prayer. The words of Jesus came alive here in this place!

Kinneret Cemetery

Rachel Bluwstein

The grave of Rachel Bluwstein at the Kinneret Cemetery

Driving south to the end of the Sea of Galilee, we made a brief “extra” stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. Here Shlomo shared with us about kibbutz life in Israel. We also heard of the story of a Russian/Ukrainian Jew named Rachel Bluwstein. She was an early Jewish pioneer in the land. She is famous for her poems. She died in 1931. Her face is now on the new Israeli 20 shekel bill!

Beth Shean

Beth Shean

The Roman city of Beth Shean

Continuing south through the Jordan Valley, we arrived at Beth Shean. By the time we started our tour of this site, the rain stopped and the sun came out! Beth Shean was one of Israel’s most extensive archaeological site. It was on the ancient walls of the Old Testament city where King Saul’ body was hung after his death on Mt Gilboa (1 Samuel 31). Beth Shean was also a very large Roman city as well, peaking from the 2nd-5th century AD. We walked on the colonnaded stone pavements/streets, saw Roman bathhouses and many mosaics as well as the agora (market place), public latrenes, and the massive theater. Some in the group climbed to the top of the OT tel for a great view of the Roman city below. Following seeing the site, we had lunch near by.

Jericho

Jericho walls

The Late Bronze retaining walls of Jericho

From here we drove a little over an hour south down the Jordan Valley. At the northern end of the Dead Sea is the city of Jericho. This was our last stop of the day. Jericho was the first city taken in Joshua’s Conquest (Joshua 6). We saw the retaining/revetment walls of the city on top of which was a mud-brick wall. It was the later that came tumblin’ down when the shofars (trumpets) were blown (David actually blew a small shofar when we read the story! Just a couple of miles to the south was New Testament Jericho. It served as Herod’s winter palace. It was here where Zacheaus (Luke 19) and Bartemaeus lived (Mark 10). It was also here where Herod the Great died in 4 BC.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea and Moab

The Dead Sea and mountains of Moab (in Jordan)

Driving south along the Dead Sea, we enjoyed spectacular visibility. The mountains of Moab (in Jordan) and clouds in the sky were so colorful as the sun began to set. After we arrived at our hotel in Zin Bokek, we changed into our swim suits for a unique float in the Dead Sea. Again the backdrop of the Jordanian mountains was amazing! Following a good hot shower, we enjoyed dinner together and a free evening.

DAY 6 – WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 14: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JUDEAN DESERT

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Day 5 Trip Summary – January 2018 14 Day Israel Tour

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, JANUARY 18: MASADA, ENGEDI, QUMRAN, DEAD SEA, JERICHO

This morning we checked out of our “Bedouin tent” quarters. It was an interesting night with all of us sleeping under one big “tent” (although a few slept out under the stars). Following a nice sunrise, we drove to our first site of the day, we read from Psalm 18:1-2 – “God is our fortress/metzada!” The weather was sunny, with temps around 65-70.

Masada/Metzada

Masada

The hike down Masada

We arrived at Masada around 7:50 a.m. This site is one of the most significant sites for Jews because of what took place here in 70-73 AD. Most in the group hiked to the top by ascending the Roman ramp. A few drove around to the eastern side and took the cable car to the top. The view of the Dead Sea to the east is spectacular from on top! We saw a few of the ruins excavated here – the southern and northern palace, storerooms, the casemate wall, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. Shlomo shared with us the story of 967 Jews who found refuge here against the Romans for nearly 3 years. It is a story of courage and determination. Fifteen in the group hiked down the Snake Path (1.2 miles with a descent of 1,000 feet), while others took the cable car down.

Engedi

Engedi water falls

Engedi water falls

Just 20 minutes north along the Dead Sea coastline is Engedi. Upon arriving, we walked back into the canyon and to the water falls of this natural oasis and source of water in the Judean Desert. A bunch got wet here under the water falls! It was here where David hid from Saul. We read this story from 1 Samuel 24. We also read from Song of Songs 1 (the “henna blossoms of Engedi…”) as well as 2 Chronicles 20 (about the “ascent of Ziz”).

Qumran

Qumran

Qumran and the Dead Sea

Continuing north along the Dead Sea (see Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14) about 35 minutes we arrived at Qumran. During the lunch hour, about twenty in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 (this included the famous Isaiah Scroll). Following this hike/lunch, we visited the small archaeological ruins of Qumran. It was here where the Essenes wrote the scrolls. We saw ritual baths (Miqveh), the scriptorium, and a close-up view of Cave 4 where the majority of the scrolls were found in 1952. Slightly the south from Cave 4, we saw the new excavations of “Cave 12.” We read from Psalm 19 and “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm discovered here in Cave 11). We celebrated the remarkable preservation and specialness of God’s Word!

Dead Sea

Next, we drove to the northern edge of the Dead Sea close by. What an amazing experience it was to float in this salty body of water (33% salt and minerals). While it was rather windy (causing waves) and a bit difficult to even stand up, it was lots of fun! We felt like corks out there!

Jericho

Jericho walls

The retaining walls of Jericho

Our last stop of the day was Jericho. We climbed the site and first looked eastward across the Jordan Valley. We saw Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34) where Moses died. Elijah and Elisha also had part of their ministry on that side (2 Kings 2). Jesus was baptized at a place called Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1). We also recalled the story of Joshua’s conquest of this city (Joshua 6). We saw the double retaining walls of this well fortified city, walls that supported a mud-brick wall on top. It was that wall that came tumblin’ down. The city was conquered in the 15th century BC (1,410 BC).

Driving to a “kibbutz hotel” (Al Mog) near by, we made a brief stop at a “Hebron glass” store. Arricing at the hotel, we checked in, enjoyed dinner together, followed by a free evening. What a great day this was in the Judean Desert!

DAY 6 – FRIDAY, JANUARY 19: WADI QELT, SHILOH, BETH SHEAN, GALILEE

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 8

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5:

Today we traveled north all the way from the Dead Sea to the Sea of Galilee. On the way however, we enjoyed a number of sites that once again connected us to the Bible. The day would be another sunny one, with temps around 80.

Masada

Masada Israel

Masada, the amazing fortress-palace in the 1st century!

Leaving at 8 a.m. following a hearty breakfast, we first drove to Masada. We read Psalm 18:1-2 on the way, celebrating God as our “fortress” (e.g. in Hebrew, metzada). Upon arriving at this palace-fortress of Herod built in the early 30s BC at the beginning of his reign (37-4 BC), we rode the cable car to the top. The peak of Masada stands about 1,000 feet higher than the valley below. On top we saw a number of things, including Herod’s southern palace, the Roman ramp, cisterns, catapult stones, the synagogue, the northern palace, and the Roman bath. Shlomo unfolded the story of Masada with passion, reflecting how the site is still significant to Israelis today! It was in 73 AD (after about 3 years of being seized by Silva and the Romans) that Masada fell. 967 Jews committed suicide here, with only a few women and children surviving. To end our tour of the site, most rode the cable car back down while about 15 in the group hiked down the Snake Path.

Engedi

waterfall Engedi

Engedi waterfall

Continuing north along the coastline of the Dead Sea, Engedi was our next stop. Here we hiked back into Wadi David (a canyon). Gathering together, we read from Song of Songs 1, 2 Chronicles 20, and 1 Samuel 24. It was here where the David and Saul “cave encounter” took place. We also hiked back to see some of the water falls of in this desert oasis.

Qumran

Cave 1 Qumran

Inside Cave 1 at Qumran. This is where the first Dead Sea scrolls were discovered!

About 30 minutes north is Qumran, the home of where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found between 1947-1956. During the lunch hour, about 15 in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were accidentally discovered. After lunch we gathered together to see a video as well as the archaeological site itself. We saw many mikvot (plural for “ritual baths”), cisterns, and “Cave 4” – of the 12 caves where scroll texts were found. We read from psalm written by David (“Psalm 151”), from 2 Timothy 3, 2 Peter 1, and Psalms 19 and 119.

Jericho

We ended the day at Tel es Sultan or Jericho. Climbing the “tel” (ancient mound), we first look east across the Jordan River and remembered the stories of Dt. 34, Joshua 1-2, 2 Judges 3, and 2 Kings 2, all about Jericho. We also looked about 2 miles south to “New Testament” Jericho where Zachaeus and Bartimaeus lived. This was also where King Herod died.

Ancient Jericho walls

The retaining walls of ancient Jericho

Finally, we remembered the story of Joshua 6 and the conquering of the city. Indeed the archaeological ruins of Jericho confirm the historicity of the Bible! We saw not only an old stone tower (that predates even Abraham by more than 1,000 years), but at the southern end we saw what still stands today as the two stone “retaining” walls of the city Joshua conquered. It was the mud brick walls on top of this stone wall that came tumblin’ down! Praise God for the truth of His Word!

Sea of Galilee

From here we drove nearly two hours north to our the Sea of Galilee area. Passing through Tiberias, we arrived at Nof Ginnosar about 7 p.m. After checking in, we enjoyed dinner together before retiring for the evening.

We will spend three nights here on the NW shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, the area of Jesus’ Galilean ministry!

DAY 9: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6: GAMLA, QATZRIN, BENTAL, CAESAREA PHILIPPI, DAN

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Oct-Nov 2017 Egypt-Jordan-Israel Tour Update – Day 7

DAY 7: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 4:

Today we would enter our third country, Israel. After a very unique and special night sleeping in tents, we woke at dawn. Greeted by the sun once again rising in the east, the day would be a sunny yet warmer day.

The Jordan-Israel Border Crossing

Wadi Rum Captains

Our “camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Following breakfast, about half the group rode a camel about 2 miles to the visitor center (where the bus was all night), while others took a ride in the jeeps. After packing up the bus, we drove to Aqaba, the southern most city of Jordan. We read Deuteronomy 6 on the way. After picking up some more lost luggage in Aqaba, we drove to the Rabin Border into Israel where we said goodbye to Sammy our “wild and crazy” guide. It was a delight to have him with us the last 2 days.

The Red Sea

Red Sea

Red Sea in Elat, Israel

Crossing the border into Israel all went fine (and quite quickly actually … 40 minutes!). David (our driver) and Shlomo (our guide) greeted us after we finished with the crossing procedures. We then went to Coral Beach where we met up with the 16 others in our group who began their tour in Israel only a couple of days ago. It was wonderful to be all together! We all enjoyed the beach here, with a number in the group swimming in the water of the Red Sea. The water was very clear, with colorful fish and coral.

Timnah & the Tabernacle

Timnah Tabernacle

The Tabernacle Model at Timnah

Leaving from here, we drove north in the Aravah Valley to Timnah. Back in the 13-12th century BC, this was the location of an ancient Egypt copper mine. The highlight here was seeing a full-size replica of the Tabernacle. The size was 150 x 75 feet. We saw the sacrificial altar the bronze laven, the Holy Chamber that included the Menorah, the Table of Showbread, and the Incense Altar. We then entered the Holy of Holies where we saw the replica of the Ark of the Covenant. We paused to celebrate God’s redemptive plan fulfilled by Jesus, our High Priest and Savior. We read from Hebrews 9 about Christ fulfilling the sacrifice “once and for all.”

Ostrich Hai Bar

An ostrich at the Hai Bar Nature Preserve

From here we continued to drive north in the Aravah. Since we had a late check-in at our hotel, we made an extra stop at the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve Safari. It is an Israel national park. It was fun to see man ostriches, the white oryx, the addax, and the Solami wild donkey. The ostriches came right up to the bus window.

Dead Sea

After a brief stop at Yovata (a dairy-kibbutz known for its ice cream), we drove about an hour and a half to our hotel in Ein Bokek along the Dead Sea. While we waited for our rooms to get ready, many went down and floated in the Dead Sea. It was a remarkable and unique experience!
Following dinner, we retired for the evening.

DAY 8 – SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 5: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JERICHO, GALILEE

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June 2017 Israel Tour – Day 5 Summary

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, JUNE 16:

Today was a day in the Judea Desert and in the region of the Dead Sea. It was hot today, with temps in the low 100s.

Masada

Masada Roman Ramp

We left our “Bedouin” hotel in the desert at 7:30. Driving just about 15 minutes and reading from Psalm 18:12 (that mentions metzada – “fortress”), we arrived at Masada, one of six of Herod the Great’s “palace-fortresses.” This one is a stand-alone mountain about 1,000 foot high. Our group had the unique experience of hiking up the Roman ramp on the western side. Others in the group bussed around and ascended to the top in the cable car. Once on top, we saw cisterns, the case-mate wall, the western and northern palaces, the bathhouse, and storerooms. The story of Masada is a gripping one, with 967 Jews withstanding Roman siege of the fortress for three years (70-73 AD) until all but five of them taking their own lives and dying in freedom. Because it was too hot, they closed the Snake Path, preventing us from hiking down.

Just 10-15 minutes north is Engedi. Here we read the story about David hiding in a cave from Saul (1 Samuel 24). The story of 2 Chronicles 20 also took place in this area. Song of Songs 1 also mentions the henna blossoms of Engedi. We also hiked into the canyon to see the many waterfalls. A number in the group enjoyed getting wet in the hour we spent here.

Engedi

Getting wet at Engedi

Continuing north along the Dead Sea, Qumran was our next site. During the lunch hour, 15 in the group joined Pastor John for a trek to Cave 1 where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. At the archaeological site of Qumran, we saw a few of the ruins here that date back to the time of the 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. The Essenes who lived here were the ones who scribed the Dead Sea Scrolls. In front of Cave 4 (where the majority of the texts were found), we read from “Psalm 151” (an “extra” psalm found here) and rejoiced in God’s amazing preservation of God’s Word!

Driving to the Dead Sea close by, we ended the day with floating in this amazing body of water. It is 33% salt and minerals. It was a wild experience!

Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

Driving north in the Jordan Valley and then heading west in and through the Hill Country of Ephraim/Samaria, we arrived our our hotel in Netanya for late dinner and a free evening. The sunset over the Med Sea was spectacular!

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, JUNE 17: CAESAREA, MT. CARMEL, MEGIDDO, NAZARETH PRECIPICE, SEPPORIS, SEA OF GALILEE

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Israel & The Dead Sea Area

Israel is an amazing country!

Dead Sea

Reflections upon the Dead Sea

Each region of the country is unique. Some areas are flat plains, while others are mountain ranges. The Dead Sea region is especially unique. At close to 1,400 feet below sea level, it is the lowest point on earth. The Dead Sea itself, about 35 miles long, is about 33% salt and minerals. This area receives only a few rain events all year, making it a very dry arid area.

Below is an amazing aerial video of the region of the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea-Israel by Amir Aloni from Amir Aloni on Vimeo.

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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 6

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, APRIL 29:

Today we checked out of our hotel and left the Sea of Galilee region. The sun was once again bright, with afternoon temps still comfortable although reaching the 90s.

Beth Shean

The Roman city of Beth Shean (located along the Jordan River Valley)

After breakfast and loading the bus, we drove south to the southern end of the Sea of Galilee. We made a brief stop at the Kinneret Cemetery. Many Jewish pioneers are buried here, including the famous “Rachel” (Rachel Bluwstein). She was a Ukranian Jew who died in 1931 at the age of 40. Her poems are still read today! She will soon appear on the 20 shekel bill.

Driving south about 20 miles through the Jordan River Valley, we arrived at the huge archaeological site of Beth Shean. This was not only an Old Testament site but also a massive Roman city. It was the only Decapolis city on the west side of the Jordan. We spent about 1.5 hours here, seeing many ruins. This included the Roman bathhouse, agora, street, many pillars, a shrine, public latrines, and the theater. Some in the group climb to the top of the OT tel, providing a great view of the region as well as the Roman city below. We read from 1 Samuel 31 (death of Saul, with his body being hung on the walls of this city), and 1 Corinthians 15 (“standing firm” on the foundation of Christ).

Retaining walls of Jericho

The retaining walls of Jericho

Close by was the 6th century AD synagogue of Beit Alpha. Here the impressive mosaic floor of this synagogue is preserved. The fictional story about the making of the mosaic was entertaining.

From here we drove on a road leading us through the Samaritan Hill Country. We saw many shepherds along the way of this barren landscape. We drove nearby Shechem /Sychar (Deut. 34, Joshua 24, John 4), Shiloh (1 Samuel 3-4, Jer. 7), Bethel (Genesis 15, 28), and Ai (Joshua 7-8). Driving towards the Judean Desert we past by Michmash (1 Samuel 13-14). On the way to the specific desert of Pareth (Jeremiah 13), we saw a number of gazelles.

Dead Sea

Reflections upon the Dead Sea

Meeting up with the main east-west road leading to Jerusalem, we descended east and arrived at Jericho. Following lunch we climbed the ancient tel of OT Jericho. We first looked east across the Jordan River towards Mt. Nebo (Deut. 34). Elijah & Elisha also had their ministry in this area. It was also in the Jordan River here (John 1) where Jesus was baptized by John. NT Jericho was about 1.5 miles to the south (where we remembered guys like Zacheaus, Bartimeaus. Looking west we remembered Jesus’ temptation. But besides seeing the oldest standing structure in Israel (the round tower), we walked to the south end of the tel where the two stone retaining walls can still be seen. These walls date to the time of Joshua. It was the mud-brick wall on top of these stone walls that came “tumblin’ down.” Yes, the Bible is historically accurate in every respect!

Floating in the Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

Driving south along the western shoreline of the Dead Sea, the reflection of the afternoon sun against the slopes of Moab on the Jordanian side as brilliant. Arriving at our hotel in Ein Bokek, we also enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea (33% minerals & salt) as well as dinner.

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, APRIL 30: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, WILDERNESS OF JUDAH, JERUSALEM, MEMORIAL DAY SERVICE

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