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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February 2018 Israel Tour Summary/Update – Day 6

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

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

Masada

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.

Engedi

Engedi

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

Qumran

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!

DAY 7 – THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, ISRAEL MUSEUM, BETHLEHEM

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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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September 2017 Israel Tour – Day 13

DAY 13 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15:

Today was our last full day here in Israel. Rising with the sunrise in the desert this morning, we enjoyed a simple breakfast before packing up and driving east towards the most impressive of all of Herod the Great’s fortresses – Masada! We read Psalm 18:1-2 as we began the day, rejoicing that God is our “metzada” – our fortress! Today would be a predictably hot day as we traveled along the Dead Sea area.

Masada roman ramp

Hiking up the Roman ramp at Masada

Masada was a fortress built by Herod but then later used by 967 Jews between 70-73 AD. These Jews found refuge up here against Silva and the Romans. Since we approached the site from the west, most in the group hiked to the top up the Roman ramp, while others bussed around to the other side, taking the cable car up. Once on top, we saw storehouses, cisterns, the casemate wall, the synagogue, the bathhouse, and the impressive northern palace. We exited the site by taking here cable car back down. Some in the group hiked down the Snake Path.

Engedi waterfalls

A few of the waterfalls at Engedi

Driving a short distance north along the Dead Sea, our next stop was Engedi. This was where David hid from King Saul. We read from 1 Samuel 24, as well as from Song of Songs 1. We hiked back to some of the water falls and enjoyed getting wet! It is such a beautiful area! No wonder David came to this “oasis in the desert.” We even saw a few ibex and coneys here.

Our last site of the day was Qumran. This was where the Essenes scribed the Dead Sea Scrolls, the most important archaeological find in all of Israel. During the lunch hour, some in the group hiked to Cave 1 where the first scrolls were found in 1947 (including the famous Isaiah Scolls). At the site we saw many miqvot (ritual baths), cisterns, and the scriptorium. In front of Cave 4 (a total of 12 caves have now been identified), we read from “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm written by David), and Psalm 19. We rejoiced together in the preservation of God’s Word!

Cave 4 QUMRAN

Cave 4 at Qumran

From here we drove west up towards Jerusalem. On the way, we stopped for quick showers along the Dead Sea as well as a Hebron glass store in Jericho. Skirting around the city center of Jerusalem, we continued to Abu Gosh for our farewell dinner. The food was tasty and it was a great time of reviewing the entire trip and sharing. We then drove to the Ben Gurion Airport for our night flight home.

NOTE: At present, we are awaiting our flight home. The web site and pictures will be updated sometime later on Saturday.

DAY 14: SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16: ARRIVE BACK IN THE U.S.A.

We plan to arrive back in the States today. What an incredible trip! Praise be to God for a life-changing experience!

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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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April-May 2017 Israel-Egypt Tour Update: Day 7

DAY 7 – SUNDAY, APRIL 30:

This morning we departed just shy of 8 a.m. Leaving the hotel, we read from Psalm 18:1-2 which mentions God as our “fortress” (metzada in Hebrew). The air here at the Dead Sea is dry. Temps would be warm the whole day, with highs around 95 (typical for this region this time of year).

Masada

The palace-fortress of Masada in the Judean Desert

Our first site was Masada. This was built originally as a “palace-fortress” of King Herod. Taking the cable car up to the top (about a 1,000 foot ascent), we saw the palaces, the casemate walls, the Roman ramp (on the west side), the synagogue, cisterns, storage rooms, and the bathhouses. The story of Masada is remarkable (967 Jews holding out against the Romans for about three years). At the end of the tour, some took the cable car back down to the bottom while others hiked the Snake Path (1.1 miles). Nine hiked down.

Engedi

Engedi

Driving north along the western coastline of the Dead Sea, we came to Engedi. This served as an oasis for many over the course of 1,000s of years. We hiked back to the last water falls here. We read from 2 Chronicles 20, Song of Songs 1, and the primary story from 1 Samuel 24. It was here where David hid from Saul. It was amazing to see so much water here in such a “dry and weary land” (Psalm 63).

Cave 1 Qumran

Inside Cave 1 at Qumran

Continuing north we arrived at Qumran. During the lunch hour some hiked to Cave 1 (of a total of 12 now – up from 11 – with the most recent announcement of a new cave) where the first Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. The discoveries of these scrolls were the most significant in all of Israel! Following lunch we visited the site itself, seeing mikveh (ritual baths), cisterns, and a scriptorium. In front of Cave 4 we rejoiced in the remarkable preservation of God’s Word and read from “Psalm 151” and Psalm 19.

Driving north towards Jericho, we turned west to ascend to the Hill Country of Judah and Jerusalem. About half way there, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt (part of the Judean Desert). Here we heard the words of the prophet Isaiah (Is. 40) and Psalm 23. The view was spectacular of this unique and dry region of the Bible.

Wadi Qelt

Wadi Qelt & the Judean Desert

Arriving in Jerusalem at our hotel, we checked in. After getting freshened up, we enjoyed dinner. A little more than half of the group then bussed to Shlomo’s home community for a special Memorial Service (in Hebrew, “Yom Hazikaron“). It was indeed very moving and a unique experience as Israel remembered all of their 23,544 fallen soldiers since 1948. One of Shlomo’s sons sang in the service. We also enjoyed a time of desert at Shlomo and Rachel’s home. We drove back and retired for the evening.

We are looking forward to our first full day in Jerusalem tomorrow!

DAY 8 – MONDAY, MAY 1: OLD CITY, WAILING WALL, WESTERN WALL TUNNEL, JEWISH QUARTER, ISRAEL MUSEUM, YAD VASHEM

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

DAY 9 – TUESDAY, MARCH 21:

Masada

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.

Engedi

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!

Jericho

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!

DAY 10 – WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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January 2017 Pastors Israel Tour – Day 6

DAY 6- SATURDAY, JANUARY 28:

Dead Sea

Floating in the Dead Sea

The morning started with a later check-out time. This allowed the group to enjoy floating on the Dead Sea before breakfast. Today would be a very unique weather day here in this area We had sun, rain, cool temps (50s) and a number of unbelievable full (and double) rainbows.

Prior to breakfast a few floated in the Dead Sea. After breakfast we left the hotel at 9:15 and drove north to Masada. As we drove, we read from Psalm 18:1-2 which refers to God as our metzada (“fortress”). At Masada, we road the cable car to the top. We saw many things, including the southern cistern, the palace, the Roman ramp, and the bathhouse. To the north appeared our first rainbow of the day. Five in the group walked down the Snake Path to the bottom (1.2 miles, descending 1,000 feet).

ibex at engedi

Ibex at Engedi

With the road now open (it was closed due to flash floods), we drove further north to Engedi. Walking up the canyon, we read from Song of Songs 1 (“henna blossoms from Engedi”), 2 Chronicles 20 (the “ascent of Ziz”), and 1 Samuel 24 (David hiding in a cave from Saul). Because of the fear of flash floods, we were only able to walk to the first water falls. Along the way, we saw 30-40 ibex and a few coneys (Psalm 104).

Rainbow over the dead sea

Rainbow over the Dead Sea

Located towards the northern end of the Dead Sea, Qumran was the next stop. On the way, we saw another rainbow. Over the lunch hour, six in the group hiked to Cave 1. It was here where the first scrolls were found in 1947 (including the famous Isaiah Scroll). At the site of Qumran, we saw the ruins that date back to 1st century BC to the 1st century AD. We read from “Psalm 151” (an extra psalm of David found here) as well as Psalm 19. We celebrated the preservation and sacredness of God’s Word. Upon leaving, a double rainbow appeared again over the Dead Sea.

On our drive to Jerusalem (ascending 4,000 feet), we enjoyed a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. We heard the words of Isaiah 40. Shlomo also sang Psalm 23.

double rainbow

A double rainbow at Qumran

Upon arriving to Jerusalem, we checked in and enjoyed dinner together. Following dinner we walked to the Western Wall, the most holy area for Jews today! It was amazing to see!

We are looking forward to the next three days here in Jerusalem!

DAY 7- SUNDAY, JANUARY 29: MT. OF OLIVES, POOL OF BETHESDA, VIA DOLOROSA, HERODIUM, BETHLEHEM

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