This second full day of the trip included some unique experiences. Before the summer sun and heat of the day, our first stop was to drive south from Beersheba to Sde Boker. Here, we saw a few ibex on our brief walk to the tomb of Israeli’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion. What an instrumental role this humble man played in the establishment of the State of Israel. Wanting to be buried where he was grew up, he and his wife (Paula) were buried here in this beautiful area overlooking the Wilderness of Zin. From here we descended into the canyon of Zin for an hour hike. At every turn, the beauty of the desert radiated God’s magnificence! We hiked to the water falls, and then ascended on the upper trail that led to the canyon rim on the other side. The climb was steep at the end, and required the use of climbing the ladders provided for hikers, but it a worth it. Everyone made it to the top and enjoyed the experience.
From here we drove back to Beersheba to visit the ancient tel. Reading form Genesis 21, this is where Abraham and Abimilech made a treaty by the well. Although the well probably does not date to the time of this father of the Israelite nation, the walls, the 4-room “Israelite houses” and the cistern system were impressive to see. Leaving Beersheba, we headed to the ancient site of Arad stopping for a quick bite to eat on the way. Tel Arad is an equally-impressive site. Here we read from 2 Chronicles 34 about King Josiah’s reforms. An 8th century temple built with the close dimension of the Temple that stood in Jerusalem 75 miles away can be seen here, complete with a Holy of holies inner court and the “Jochin & Boaz” standing stones. Josiah’s reforms were aimed to centralize worship again in Jerusalem, and to bring to an end impure worship taking place elsewhere.
To end the day, we drove about 10 miles further east to the western side of Masada, the famous Wilderness of Judah fortress built by Herod. Although very hot, we walked up the Roman ramp, seeing a few of the ruins on top. While hearing the story of the zealots enduring the Roman siege of the fortress, we saw the northern palace, the bath-house and the 1st century synagogue to name a few. We walked back down the ramp to our van below. Driving to our hotel on the shores of Ein Bokek, we enjoyed a “float” in the warm and salty waters of the Dead Sea. We ate dinner at 8, and then retired for the night. What a great second full day! God is good!