DAY 7 – SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23: MASADA , JERICHO, WADI QELT, SHILOH, JERUSALE
Today was a sunny and warmer day, with highs in the low 70s. We drove from the south end of the Dead Sea to Jerusalem, with great sites along the way!
We left our hotel at 7:30 once again. Driving about 15 minutes and reading Psalm 18:1-2 along the way, we arrived at Masada (Metzada – “fortress”). We took the cable care up to the top of this palace-fortress built by King Herod in the 30s BC. We saw the western palace, the Roman ramp, the casemate wall, the synagogue, the northern palace, and the bathhouse. Shlomo shared the story of the 967 Jews who used this location as a refuge against the Romans following the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. They were here nearly three years before they took their own lives. Most took the cable car back down, while about a dozen walked down the Snake Path.
We drove northward along the western shoreline of the Dead Sea. We learned about the recent tectonic research that took place last month in some of the gullies that reveal earthquake activity as well as the sea level during various periods of Biblical history. After arriving at Jericho, we enjoyed a quick a quick lunch prior to climbing the site of Jericho (Tel es-Sultan).
Looking eastward from the top of the site, we could see Mt. Nebo (Dt. 34), and the area of Bethany Beyond the Jordan (where Jesus was baptized, John 1). Looking west, we could see the edge of the desert where Jesus was tempted. Archaeologically, we saw a large stone tower (perhaps a tomb or memorial?). The date of this structure predates even Abraham by a few thousand years.
At the southern end of the site we could see what still stands of the retaining walls of ancient Jericho. These date to the time of Joshua. A mud brick wall once stood on top of this stone wall. It’s the mud brick wall that came tumbling down (Joshua 6). Praise God for the accuracy and historicity of His Word!
“Once again today was an outstanding one! From Masada to Jericho, to hearing ‘Isaiah’ in the Judean Desert, to Shiloh… they all were amazing experiences! What a trip this has been so far. And now Jerusalem the next three days! Wow!” -Tour Member-
Judean Desert – Wadi Qelt & Desert of Parath
Driving westward and beginning our ascent toward Jerusalem, we made a brief stop overlooking the Wadi Qelt. Here we heard the words of Isaiah 40 and Psalm 23. The desert was green with life due to the winter rains. John the Baptist would proclaim the same words of Isaiah here. Continuing from here we turn north to go down to the Parath Desert. We read from Jeremiah 13 as we enjoyed the windy road.
The road eventually took us further north past Mishmash (1 Samuel 13-14), Bethel (Genesis 12, 28), Ai (Joshua 7-8). The city of Shiloh was our final stop today. We climbed the site and looked at the ancient ruins. The almond buds were in full bloom and were so beautiful! The Tabernacle once stood here (from about 1400 to about 1060 BC). We read from 1 Samuel 3 (about the call of Samuel), and Jeremiah 7 that references Shiloh). As Samuel did, we were encouraged to pray, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” We also saw a movie before leaving the site.
Jerusalem would be our final destination and home for the next three days. The drive took about 50 minutes. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner together. Following eating together, many in the group enjoyed a walk to the Western Wall. We are looking forward to being here in Israel’s capital city!