DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30

IMG_6405We left the hotel at 8 a.m. this morning.  The weather today in this region of Israel was predictably sunny and warm (95 was the high).  Driving north along the western coastline of the Dead Sea, we visited four sites, beginning with Masada (Psalm 18:1-2 – “Metzada”  – fortress).  After taking a cable car to the top, Shlomo shared with us the famous story of the fortress used by nearly 1,000 Jews from 70-73 A.D.  We saw the largest of about a dozen cisterns, the Roman ramp, bathhouses, and storage rooms.  Over a dozen of the group walked down the Snake Path (about 1.6 miles, descending 1,000 feet or so).

The next site, Ein Gedi, was only a 20 minute drive north.  Here we read from 2 Chronicles 20 (referencing the “Ascent of Ziz” and Engedi) and 1 Samuel 24, the story of David and Saul’s “cave” encounter.  We hiked back to the 2nd water falls

IMG_6415Continuing to the northern end of the Dead Sea, our next stop was Qumran.  This was where the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Some in the group hiked to the cave area, while others enjoyed lunch.  We visited the site together, seeing ritual baths (mikvot), scriptoriums, and a few of the caves where the scrolls were found.

Our final stop was Jericho.  Here we looked east across the Jordan valley and saw Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34) and the area where Jesus was baptized (Bethany Beyond the Jordan” – John 1).  Looking west we viewed the traditional Mt. of Temptation as well as the oldest tower in the world.  At the southern end of the “tel,” we saw the two foundation walls of the city, the same walls Joshua saw.  The mud-brick wall, the one that fell at the blast of the “shofars,” as built on top of these walls.

IMG_6451From here we drove an hour and a half to Maagan, our “kibbutz-hotel” for the next three nights.  It’s a beautiful place that feels like a “retreat center.” After dinner, we enjoyed a time of worship and sharing along the quiet shores of the Sea of Galilee.

DAY 5 – THURSDAY, MAY 1

We plan to visit the Golan Heights.

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