Day 9 – Saturday, March 16: Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran, Judean Desert, Jericho


We checked out of our hotel by 7:40 this morning following a good breakfast. Today was “desert day” here in the Judean Desert. The weather was once again perfect, with mixed sun and clouds and highs around 75.



The site of Masada (metzada, in Hebrew, Psalm 18:1-2) was our first site and only a 15 minute drive from our hotel. This was built in the early 30s BC as a palace-fortress by Herod the Great. We took the cable car to the top and began seeing the ruins from the 1st century. We saw huge cisterns, the western and northern palaces, the Roman Ramp, the synagogue, and the bathhouse. In 70 AD, this was the location where 967 Jews found refuge from the Romans following the destruction of the Temple. The holdout lasted about three years until all by five of these Jews (a few women and children) took their own lives. It is a story of bravery and courage! About a third of our group walked down the Snake Path.


Ein Gedi

From here we drove about 20 minutes north of Masada to get to Ein Gedi, one of only a few oasis here in the edge of the Judean Desert. We read from Song of Songs 1, 2 Chronicles 20 (the “Ascent of Ziz”) and 1 Samuel 24 (David hid from Saul here). Most in the group hiked back to the water falls at the end of the canyon. The final path was closed to the farthest falls, but the view was still spectacular from there! What an incredibly beautiful place! It was amazing to see so much water here in the desert!



Continuing about 30 minutes north we arrived at Qumran. Some enjoyed lunch here before seeing this most important site, while others took the late lunch time to hike to the the cliff area above the archaeological site and climb through the aqueduct. Here we could see Cave 6 and the beginning of the aqueduct system that brought rain/flood water into the site. Following our lunch/hike, we began our visit of this most significant site. It was here at Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found! The discovery began in 1947, while the excavation took place through 1956. We walked through the limited ruins where a small community of Essenes lived (or retreated here from Jerusalem, as a new theory suggests). To date, over 900 scrolls and fragments of texts scrolls have been discovered in 12 caves. The scrolls/texts date primarily from the 3rd century BC – 1st century AD. At the small archaeological site we saw cisterns, ritual baths (mikvot), and the scriptorium. In front of “Cave 4” (where the majority of texts were found), we read from “Psalm 151,” and Psalm 19. We celebrated the perseverance of God’s Word!

“Today was ‘desert day’ here in Israel! We visited great sites, enjoyed three optional hikes, and made connections once again with the Bible. Our group is a lot of fun and wonderful blend of fellow believers.”
Masada Palace March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey


Our last archaeological site of the day was Jericho. We arrived at Tel es-Sultan, or Old Testament Jericho. After we climbed the site. We looked east and could see the Jordan Valley the Mt. Nebo on the ridge on the horizon (Dt. 34). Elijah was taken to heaven in the area across the river (2 Kings 2). Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River at “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (John 1). Looking south we could see the area of NT Jericho (where Zachaeus and Bartimeaus lived, and where Herod the Great died in 4 BC). We then turned our attention to the ancient OT site of Jericho. The archaeology of this ancient site of Jericho supports and confirms the Bible’s historicity. Besides seeing the oldest structure (a round tower) in Israel, on the southern end we saw the double retaining walls of this Canaanite city taken my Joshua (Joshua 6). A mud brick wall once stood on top of these stone walls. They came tumblin down.

To end the day, we traveled just outside Jericho to our “kibbutz/hotel” (Al Mog) where we enjoyed dinner and a free evening. We travel north to the Sea of Galilee tomorrow!


Day 10 – Sunday, March 17: Wadi Qelt, Shiloh, Beth Shean, Mt. Gilboa, Tiberias

Masada March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey
Ein Gedi March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey
Qumran March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey
Masada March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey
Qumran March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey
Jericho March 2024 Israel Tour John DeLancey

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