DAY 6 – THURSDAY, MAY 9: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JERICHO
This morning here in Israel was Independence Day (year 71)! We were greeted to another full sun day, with perfect temps around 85 (not bad for the Dead Sea area this time of year)! While some went “floating” in the Dead Sea at sunrise, we all enjoyed breakfast before checking out.
On the way to Masada we read Psalm 18. Here David used the Hebrew word metzada is used for “fortress.” This was precisely what Masada was used for. Early in his reign, Herod the Great built a Masada as a palace-fortress (one of several). We took the cable car up to the top. We saw the casemate wall, Roman ramp, the western and northern palace, cisterns, and the bathhouse. Shlomo passionately shared the history of the fall of Masada, with 962 Jews taking their own lives, while 5 women and children were spared. 11 in the group walked down the Snake Path while most in the group took the cable car back down to the bottom.
Driving northward along the western edge of the Dead Sea, we read from Ezekiel 47 (about fresh water running from Jerusalem, making this salty sea fresh). Upon arriving at Engedi, we walked back into the Wadi David where we read from Song of Songs 1 (henna blossoms of Engedi), 2 Chronicles 20 (the Ascent of Ziz), and 1 Samuel 24. It was here where David hid from Saul. We then hiked back into the canyon to enjoy the water falls. It is incredible there is so much water here in the middle of the desert!
“Today was a day spent along the Dead Sea. We saw some great sites and even had a few extra hikes.” – Tour Member-
Continuing northward, we arrived to the northern tip of the Dead Sea and to the site of Qumran. The Dead Sea scrolls were first discovered here in 1947, making this site the most significant one in all of Israel! Most enjoyed lunch while others explored the cliffs above the site during this hour. We then visited the site. In front of Cave 4, we read from “Psalm 151” (one of the extra psalms written by David), Psalm 19, and 2 Timothy 3:16. Praise God for the preservation and purpose of His Word.
Our last site of the day was OT Jericho (Tel es-Sultan). Climbing the site, we first looked east towards Mt. Nebo (Dt. 31-34) and the Jordan River. This was where Jesus was baptized (John 1). To the south is NT Jericho where Zacheaus and Bartimeaus lived. King Herod also died here. Looking west, also remembered that it was in the Judean Desert where Jesus was tempted for 40 days. Following seeing the oldest stone structure in the region, we walked to the southern end and discussed the story of how Joshua took the city of Jericho (Joshua 6). We saw the two stone retaining walls of the city, upon which was a mud-brick wall. It was this mud-brick wall that came tumblin’ down after encircling the city seven times and blowing the shofars (ram’s horns). The archaeology and the biblical story match perfectly!
Al Mog Kibbutz
On our way to the hotel, we made brief stop at a Hebron glass shop in Jericho. At the hotel, we ate dinner and then checked into our rooms.
We continue northward tomorrow to the Sea of Galilee area.