DAY 3: WEDNESDAY, JULY 10
We started this first full day anxious to begin seeing biblical sites. Some woke up early (because of jetlag), with others getting out to the beach for a pre-breakfast stroll along the Med shoreline. Following breakfast, we packed up the bus and headed south west to the first site of Beth Shemesh. Reading 1 Samuel 6 on top of the “tel” (ancient mound) about how the Ark of the Covenant was returned by the Philistines here, we collected some pottery samples and took a peak into one of the cisterns used during OT times. From here we headed south to the Elah Valley and the site of Azekah. Viewing the valley below, we shared the story of David vs. Goliath. It was here where God provided victory for the Israelites through the bravery of “shepherd-boy” David.
The next site was Mareshah, Beit Guvrin. We entered the Columbarium (pigeon cave) as well as the Bell Cave. Micah 1 and 5 was read here. We also sang, with Shlomo, our Israeli guide, providing a song on his recorder.
Following lunch, we continued south to Lachish, a city attacked by the Assyrians and later destroyed by the Babylonians. The walls and gate structure was impressive to see. From here, we drove into the heart of the Negev and to the site of Beersheba. We read from Genesis 21 and Psalm 23 about God’s “cup” of goodness overflowing still to us today. Driving eastward across this northern region of the Negev we arrived at Arad, an impressive Canaanite and later Israelite city. We read from 2 Chronicles 34 about Josiah’s reforms.
We ended the day by driving to our “Bedouin tent” dwelling located at the edge of the Judean Desert. We enjoyed the camel rides, “family style” dinner, and a time of praise and fellowship around the campfire. Before retiring for the night, most of us enjoyed gazing up to the abundance of stars, recalling the promises made to Abraham.
What a great first full day!
DAY 4: THURSDAY, JULY 11
We began this second full day early, with a 6 a.m. wake-up and 6:30 breakfast. Leaving around 7:30, we headed eastward to Masada, the “fortress” of the Judean Desert. Uniquely, we climbed the Roman ramp on the western side of this fortress built by King Herod. We saw few of the primary structures on top, before descending the eastern side by cable car. A few of us walked down the Snake Path to the bottom.
Driving northward along the Dead Sea, We arrived at Ein Gedi. Here, we hiked back to one of the water falls, with a few of us enjoying the refreshing water. It was here that David hid from King Saul (1 Samuel 24). Further north was the site of Qumran. It as here where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written.
After lunch we enjoyed some time floating in the Dead Sea and its highly salty waters. Even though it was very hot here, what a great experience. From here we drove to the northern edge of the Dead Sea to the site Jericho where the “walls came tumbling down (Joshua 6).”
We end the day by driving north in the Jordan Valley to the Sea of Galilee which we make our home for the next three nights at a kibbutz called Nof Ginnosar. Some enjoyed a quick swim in the Sea of Galilee before dinner. We also shared in an optional gathering along the quiet shores of this lake called in Hebrew, Kinneret. It was a beautiful time of fellowship. While covering a lot of distance today, it was another wonderful day of interacting with God’s Word and the stories of the Bible.