DAY 5 – THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 12: MASADA, EIN GEDI, QUMRAN, JERICHO, DEAD SEA
Today was the first full day of the trip for everyone! After an unique night at our “Bedouin Tent” hotel last, we enjoyed the entire day in the world’s lowest elevation, the area of the Dead Sea!
After breakfast and loading the bus, we first enjoyed camel rides in the Judean Desert. We then drove to Masada, a palace-fortress of King Herod built in the mid 30s BC. We read from Psalm 18:1-2 on the way, claiming God was our metzada, our “fortress.” Most in the group climbed up the Snake Path while others drove around to the eastern side and took the cable car to the top. On top we saw the western palace, a few cisterns, the casemate wall, storage rooms, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. Due to the heat, we all took the cable car down since the Snake Path was closed.
Driving to the north along the Dead Sea, Engedi was our next stop. Entering into the beaituflu canyon of Wadi David, we connected this location with the Bible. We read from Song of Songs 1 (henna blossoms of Engedi…), 2 Chronicles 20 (the Ascent of Ziz), and 1 Samuel 24 (David, Saul, and the “cave”). Most then hiked further into the canyon, enjoying the water falls along the way.
“Today was our first full day and it was incredible. The biblical connections of what we saw were abundant! The Judean Desert is really a stony and dry place! Hard to picture people living here. But they did!” -Tour Member-
Contining northward, Qumran was the next stop. Following lunch here (it was crowded!), visited the site. The Essenes who lived here were the ones who scribed the Dead Sea Scrolls. First found in 1947, about 900 fragments of texts were found so far, including every book of the Bible! We read from “Psalm 151’ (a humble psalm of David food in Cave 11 in 1956) and Psalm 19. We rejoiced in the inspired Word of God ( 2 Timothy 3:16).
Our last stop of the day was Jericho. This was the first city conquered by Joshua (Josh. 6). Looking east we could see Mt. Nebo (Dt. 31-34), the area of the Jordan River (Josh. 3-4), the area served by Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2), and the place of Jesus’ baptism (John 1). We also looked west up to the cliffs of the Judean Desert and remembered Jesus’ temptation here. We saw the oldest tower in Israel as well as the two stone retaining walls on the southern end of the site. It was the mud brick wall on top of this stone wall that “tumblin’ down” when Joshua encircled the city seven times and blew the trumpets/shofars. We celebrated the historicity of God’s Word!
We returned to the southern end of the Dead Sea, to Ein Bokek. Following this hour-long drive, we checked into a very nice hotel in Ein Bokek. We enjoyed dinner and floating in the Dead Sea!
What a great first full day here in Israel!