DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 10
This was a day spent in the Biblical Negev. Leaving our hotel at 8 a.m. again, we drove to Tel Beersheba, the archaeological site. We saw numerous ruins, including a well, three-chamber gate, typical “Israelite 4-room houses,” a massive cistern system, and a replica of the altar found here in the 70s (the real one is in the Jerusalem Museum). We read from Genesis 21 about Abraham, and eluded to Psalm 23 and the “cup” that overflows. From here we drove south towards Sde Boker and the Desert of Zin. We visited Ben Gurion’s tomb here. We also saw numerous “ibex,” (wild goats, Psalm 104). Next, we drove into the beautiful canyon of Zin where we walked to the water falls and back. About 15 in the group hiked further up to the eastern rim of the canyon. We ate lunch at nearby Avdat.
Following lunch, we drove back north to Arad, an ancient Canaanite and later Israelite city. We read Numbers 21 about the King of Arad who opposed Moses (the city would later be destroyed by Joshua) and 2 Chronicles 34 about the religious reforms of both Hezekiah and Josiah. Driving through the modern city of Arad, our last stop was the Foundation of Tears. This is a unique place with a Messianic theme, combining the 7 last statements of Christ with the suffering of the Holocaust. It is a remarkable ministry.
Driving 10 minutes further east into the Judean Desert, we arrive at our “Bedouin tent facility” called Hanokim. When we arrived, we enjoyed a 30 minute camel ride out into the desert. We then enjoyed dinner (“family style”) and a “hospitality” meeting with a Bedouin man.” After getting arranged in our “huts,” we enjoyed a a time of singing and devotion under a spectacular “full-moon” sky! It was a real privilege to praise and glorify God, the creator of the heavens and earth!
It was a unique a unique day in these southern regions of Israel.
DAY 5 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11
We woke up at 6 a.m. this morning here in the desert. Greeted by a cool morning and wonderful sunrise, it would be a hot day around 100 degrees. Following breakfast, we loaded the bus and departed around 7:30 for Masada. After hearing an introduction to this impressive “fortress,” we climbed the Roman ramp on the western side of the site. We visited a few of the more impressive ruins: southern palace, a cistern, the synagogue and the bathhouse. Shlomo also shared the story with passion. About a dozen of us hiked down the Snake Path, a stony trail that descends about 1,000 feet. It took about 45 minutes.
After loading the bus on this eastern side of the site, we traveled north to Engedi. This is where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 24) in a cave. We hiked to both the first and second water falls. Some in the group enjoyed getting wet. Continuing north along the western side of the Dead Sea, our next stop was Qumran. We ate lunch here. A few even hiked up towards the cave area of the city inhabited by the Essense community. After lunch we saw the site itself, including mikvot (ritual baths) and the scriptorium. Nearby, we enjoyed a time at the Dead Sea, a body of water consisting of over 30% salt and minerals. We “floated” for a short time.
Our last site of the day was Jericho. We visited the tel. From here we looked east into Jordan, seeing Mt Nebo and “Bethany Beyond the Jordan,” the baptismal location of Jesus. On the site, we saw the oldest tower structure in Israel as well as the stone retaining walls from the time of Joshua. Praise God for the historicity of the Bible.
From Jericho, we drove about 2 hours north to the Sea of Galilee. We checked in to our hotel for the next three nights, Nof Ginnosar, located on the NW corner of the Sea of Galilee. We enjoyed a late dinner and a free night.
DAY 6 – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
We plan to visit sites around the Sea of Galilee. An optional baptism will also be shared.