February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 6


Today was spent along the west coast of the Dead Sea and in the Judean Desert. It would be a perfectly sunny and warmer day, with highs in the 70s. We read from Psalm 18 as we left the hotel, claiming God as our metzada (“fortress”) and strength.



Masada, a palace-fortress of Herod the Great and place of refuge for Jews after 70 AD

Leaving shortly after 8 this morning, we drove north along the Dead Sea to Masada. This was one of Herod the Great’s palace-fortress (actually the first one built). Taking the cable car to the top of this 1,000 foot-high stand-alone mountain, we saw ruins from the 1st century. This included the palaces of Herod, the case-mate wall, the Roman ramp, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. Shlomo shared passionately about the remarkable story of this place, with 967 Jews using this site as a place of refuge against the Romans after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Most in the group took the cable car back down while others hiked the Snake Path to the bottom.



The spring/oasis of Engedi

Driving about 15 minutes north, our next stop was at the oasis of Engedi. This was where David hid from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). We also remembered the story of 2 Chronicles 20 that happened here as well as the romantic language of Song of Songs 1. Hiking back to some of the water falls, we took some time for reflecting and journaling.



Qumran and the Dead Sea

Continuing north, we visited Qumran. This was where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. During the lunch hour, many in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found (this included the famous Isaiah Scroll). We also then visited the small ruins of Qumran, see many ritual baths (miqvot), the scriptorium, and Cave 4. We read from “Psalm 151,” an extra psalm found here humbly written by David. We also read from Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3. Before we left, we could also see the new cave (Cave 12) that is currently being excavated further.

Judean Desert/Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt – Judean Desert

Driving now west and ascending almost 4,000 feet in elevation to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the beautiful Wadi Qelt. It is actually part of the Judean Desert. Here we heard the powerful words of Isaiah 40 proclaimed by this 7th century BC prophet of God. John the Baptist would echo the same words as he “prepared the way for the Lord” (e.g. Jesus) as well! The beauty of the desert in the winter was breath-taking!

The Western Wall

The Western Wall in Jerusalem

Continuing our drive to Israel’s capital, we checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner, most in the group walked to the Western Wall, the most holy place for Jews today! This wall served as a retaining wall for Herod’s Temple, a project he began in 20 BC. It is good to be in Jerusalem!


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Biblical Israel & Jordan Tour, March 2017 – Day 9 Summary



Masada – “Metzada” – the “palace-fortress” of Herod.

Today would be a day spent in the Judean Desert! The day would be mostly sunny, with highs in the low-mid 70s. Perfect!

After a very nice sunrise over the Dead Sea and another hearty breakfast, we departed shortly after 8 a.m. for Masada. Located just 10-15 minutes or so north of our last night’s hotel in Ein Bokek, we ascended this 1,000 foot-high “fortress” (metzada in Hebrew, see Psalm 18:1-2) by the cable car. The story of Masada is quite amazing. Taking place between 70-73 AD, 967 Jews found refuge from the Romans here after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. Among the ruins here, we saw palaces, the casemate wall, the Roman ramp (on western side), the synagogue, and the bathhouse. A number in the group walked down the Snake Path (1.1 miles) to the bottom while others took the cable car. Masada was probably the “stronghold” to which David fled following the 1 Samuel 24 story with Saul.


Some of the many water falls of Engedi

About 20 minutes north is Engedi. This was our next stop. Walking back the Wadi David towards the water falls, we read from Song of Songs 1 (the “henna blossoms of Engedi”), 2 Chronicles 20 (Jehoshaphat and the ascent of Ziz), and 1 Samuel 24 (David and Saul in a cave). Many walked back to some of the waterfalls here. Water flows all year around from this spring (“Ein”).

Continuing north is the site of Qumran. This is where we ate lunch. However, over the lunch hour, some in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947 (this included the famous Isaiah scroll, among others). Following lunch we visited the ruins of Qumran. Here we saw cisterns, mikve (ritual baths), and the scriptorium. In front of Cave 4 (where the majority of the scrolls were found), we read from “Psalm 151” (one of a few “extra” psalms), as well as 2 Timothy 3:16 and Psalm 19. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls changed not only biblical scholarship, but also lives!


The retaining walls of Jericho (Joshua 6)

Our last archaeological site was Jericho. Located just north of the Dead Sea, we climbed the tel and remembered all the stories from the Bible relating to the Jordan River to the east (Joshua 3, John 1) as well as NT Jericho located 1.5 miles south (Mark 10, Luke 19). The NT site was also where King Herod died in 4 BC. We also recalled the story of Joshua 6 relating to the OT site that was conquered by Joshua at the end of the 15th century BC. Besides an old rounded tower found here (the oldest tower in the region, perhaps 6,000 years old or more), we also saw the reventment/retaining stones that Joshua saw. It was on top of these stone walls that a mud brick wall was placed. It was this mud brick wall that came ‘tumblin’ down’ with the trumpets! At the end of the telling of the Joshua 6 story, Jeremy blew his shofar (ram’s horn) to add to the story.

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt and the Judean Desert

From here we drove nearly 4,000 feet in elevation towards Jerusalem. On the way, we made a brief stop at Wadi Qelt where we heard Isaiah 40 read and Psalm 23 sung. The imagery of these two passages in this Judean Desert came alive!

Upon reaching our hotel in Jerusalem, we checked in and enjoyed dinner together. Many in the group then walked to the Western Wall on our “orientation walk” through the Old City. We are excited to be here in Israel’s capital!


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Oct-Nov 2016 Israel Tour – Day 5


masada israel

Masada, located in the Judean Desert

Today was another bright and sunny day, with highs in the low 80s. Driving north along the western coastline of the Dead Sea, we started the day with Masada. This was a one of several “palace-fortresses” built by Herod the Great. Although not mentioned directly in the Bible, the Hebrew word metzada is mentioned in Psalm 18. The word means “fortress.” Long before this “stand-alone” mountain was developed by Herod, perhaps David used is as his “stronghold” (1 Samuel 24). Ascending to the top in a cable car, here at Masada we heard the valiant story passionately shared by Shlomo of the 967 Jews who held out in from the Romans for about 3 years. We saw a few cisterns and palaces, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. A number in the group enjoyed the hike down the Snake Path, while others road the cable care down.

engedi israel water falls

The waterfalls of Engedi. This is where the story of David and Saul took place (1 Samuel 24)

Driving north once more, Engedi was our next site. Here we read from 2 Chronicles 20, Song of Songs 1, and 1 Samuel 24. It was here where David hid in a cave from Saul. We walked to some of the water falls here. It’s remarkable to see so much water here in the Judean Desert.

Continuing to the northwest corner of the Dead Sea (Ezekiel 47), we came to Qumran. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found here in 1947. After eating lunch here, we saw the archaeological site where the Essene community scribed these scrolls (around 900 of them in a total of 11 caves). We read from “Psalm 151” (found in Cave 11) as well as from Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3:16 while standing right across from Cave 4 (where the majority of the scrolls were found). During lunch, a good number in the group hiked to the famous Cave 1 where the scrolls were first discovered.

walls of jericho

The retaining stone walls of Jericho

Jericho was our last stop of the day. We climbed the tel (ancient mound) and first looked across to Jordan and Mt. Nebo (where Moses died). We talked about a few of the stories that took place here, including stories from the New Testament (Zaccheaus, Bartimeaus, the Good Samaritan parable, etc…). At the site we saw the oldest standing tower in Israel as well as what is exposed of the double retaining walls of Jericho as seen and destroyed by Joshua (Joshua 6). Jericho was the first of 31 cities taken by Joshua (Joshua 12). We celebrated the historicity and accuracy of the Bible!

From here we drove north through the Jordan River Valley to Tiberias. We checked into Nof Ginnosar (north of Tiberias), while the pastors in our group are staying in Nazareth for the night.

We are looking forward to two days and three nights here in the region of the Galilee!

DAY 6 – SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5 – NAZARETH PRECIPICE, MEGIDDO, CAPERNAUM, CHORAZIM, MAGDALA, BOAT RIDE (this day has been altered because of the annual cycling race around the Sea of Galilee)

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June 2016 Israel Tour – Day 8


DAY 8 – TUESDAY, JUNE 28 Today was expectantly warmer than today since we spent the entire day in the Judean Desert/Dead Sea area. Leaving again shortly after 7:30, we drove east of Jerusalem, down to the Jericho area, then turned south. Driving along the Dead Sea, we arrived at our first site of the day, Masada! Masada was another palace-fortress built by Herod the Great. Taking the cable car up to the top of this “stand-alone” mountain (about 1,000 feet up), we heard the story of Masada (the resilience of 967 Jews again the Romans who ended up taking their own lives in 73 AD) and saw a few of the ruins (cistern, palace, casemate wall, synagogue, bathhouse). We … Continue reading

May 2016 Israel Tour – Day 8




Today was a “desert day!” Leaving our hotel after breakfast, we drove to through the Judean Desert to the east before turning south along the western coastline of the Dead Sea. Our first destination was Masada. The weather was very nice again, with sun and highs in the 80s.

Masada was yet another palace-fortress of Herod the Great. It was built on a “stand-alone” mountain that reaches about 1,000 feet above the visitor center below. We ascended Masada in a cable car. Shlomo shared with us the story of how 967 Jews died here top as the Romans surrounded them for nearly three years. We saw the one of the palaces, the Roman ramp, cisterns, the casemate walls, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. A few in the group hiked down the Snake Path at the end of the tour of this amazing place. Praise God that He is our metzada (our fortress, our “Masada”)!

Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi

Driving north now about 20 minutes, our next stop was Ein Gedi. We walked into the canyon (“Wadi David”) and enjoyed the narrative of Ecclesiastes 1 and the stories of 2 Chronicles 20 and 1 Samuel 24. This later story preserves David’s experience of hiding in a cave here when Saul was pursuing him. We walked back far enough to see some of the water falls.

Continuing north, Qumran was our next stop. This is where the Essenes community wrote the famous Dead Sea scrolls! We saw some of the ruins that included cisterns, scriptorium, and miqve (ritual baths). We also read from “Psalm 151” as well as Psalm 19 and 2 Timothy 3 as we celebrated not only the preservation of Gods Word but also the impact God’s Word has in our lives. During lunch, some even hiked up to the famous “Cave 1.”

Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

From here we enjoyed floating in the Dead Sea. This is a body of water that is about 30% salt and mineral. Everyone enjoyed it very much!

On our way back to Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. With the Judean desert as the backdrop, we heard the powerful words of Isaiah 40 (“A voice of one calling in the desert…”), while Shlomo sang “Psalm 23.” The overview of the Judean Desert was special!

We returned home to the hotel for dinner. Some enjoyed a walk to Ben Yehuda Street and Jaffa Road for some shopping and a taste of modern Israel culture.


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Oct-Nov 2015 Israel Tour Day 5

DAY 5 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30 Today was a sunny day, with highs in around 80. Waking up early to a wonderful sunrise over Jordan, we left our Bedouin camp and drove to Masada located only about 8 miles east. Masada was a palace-fortress built by King Herod. It as later occupied by 967 Jews after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. It was surrounded by Silva, the Roman general and his legions of soldiers. He built a ramp upon which many of the group ascended to the top of this “stand-alone” city. Others in the group bussed around to the eastern side of Masada and ascended via cable car. On top we saw cisterns, palaces, mosaics, storehouses, … Continue reading

January 2015 Israel Tour – Days 4 and 5

DAY 4 – TUESDAY, JANUARY 13  Today was another sunny day, with enjoyable temperatures once again, although cool in the morning. We spent the entire day in the Biblical Negev. After checking out of the Leonardo Hotel in Beersheba, our first stop was Tel Beersheba. Here the stories of Abraham took place (Genesis 21). We saw the walled city and gate, rounded streets, a typical “4-room Israelite house,” and reconstructed horned altar. We descended into the cistern system as well. From here we drove south to Sde Boker, the burial place of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel. We saw ibex here, a “wild-goat-like” animal that inhabits this area. From here we oveviewed the Wilderness of Zin, … Continue reading

June, 2014 Israel Tour – Day 5

JUNE 12 – DAY 5 This morning we left our Dead Sea hotel to begin our drive to the north. After another great breakfast, we loaded up the bus for Ein Gedi located about 30 minutes to the north.  Reading from 2 Chronicles 20, Song of Songs 1, and 1 Samuel 24, we recalled all the events that took place in this “desert oasis” in the heart located at the edge of the Judean Desert.  We walked back to the 2nd water falls, seeing “ibex and coneys” (Psalm 104) along the way.  We saw a number of caves as well, making us wonder what cave it was where the David/Saul encounter took place.  We all enjoyed the refreshing water. About … Continue reading

Israel/Jordan Tour – Nov, 2012, Day 7

The day started with a beautiful sunrise over the Dead Sea. After breakfast and loading the bus, our first site of the day, Masada, was only 15 minutes north. Masada is best known for being a Jewish fortress that withstood the Romans for 3 years following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. We rode the cable car to the top. Among what we saw were cisterns, casemate walls, the Roman camps and ramp, a bathhouse, and a 1st century synagogue. Half of the group hiked don the Snake Path to the bottom. Next was Engedi, where we read about the David-Saul story and hiked back to the second water falls. Further north along this western side of the Dead … Continue reading