DAY 5 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30
Today was a sunny day, with highs in around 80. Waking up early to a wonderful sunrise over Jordan, we left our Bedouin camp and drove to Masada located only about 8 miles east. Masada was a palace-fortress built by King Herod. It as later occupied by 967 Jews after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. It was surrounded by Silva, the Roman general and his legions of soldiers. He built a ramp upon which many of the group ascended to the top of this “stand-alone” city. Others in the group bussed around to the eastern side of Masada and ascended via cable car. On top we saw cisterns, palaces, mosaics, storehouses, a synagogue, and a bathhouse. 13 in the group hiked down the Snake Path. We read from Psalm 18:1-2 about how God is our “fortress” (metzada/Masada).
Leaving Masada, we drove north along the western coastline of the Dead Sea to Engedi. Here we read from Songs of Solomon 1, 2 Chr. 20, and 1 Samuel 24 (David’s “cave” experience with Saul). We hiked back to the second water falls. Many enjoyed getting a little wet.
Further north was Qumran. While some ate lunch, others uniquely hiked to “Cave 1” where the famous Isaiah scrolls were discovered in 1947. After lunch we visited the archeological ruins of Qumran where the Essene community wrote these ancient scrolls/texts. We read from “Psalm 151” (the extra psalm found here) and 2 Timothy 3:16, celebrating the preservation and authority of God’s Word. Before leaving the site, we also hiked to Cave 11, where the “Temple Scroll” was found.
Next, we drove to the Dead Sea where we enjoyed “floating” in this unique body of water (1,400 feet below sea level, 33% salt/minerals). Everyone enjoyed this “unique” experience!
Our last site of the day was Jericho. We talked about the historicity of the Bible in the context of the Joshua 6 story. Here we see a perfect “match” between archaeology and the Bible. We saw the very “revetment/retaining” walls that Joshua saw. A bud-brick wall on top of this stone wall is the one that came tumbin’ down!
We drove up to, and through the northern edge of Jerusalem enroute to our hotel located in Tel Aviv. We enjoyed a late dinner and a free night. It was another great day here in Israel!
DAY 6 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31: Caesarea, Mt. Carmel, Megiddo, Sepporis, Nazareth Precipice
(REGIONS to study: Lower Galilee, Jezreel Valley, Sharon Plain, Hill Country of Judah)