Revisiting Israel - Part Four (Day two)
Qumran was amazing! As we drove to the actual site with the caves, we saw barren mountains of brownish red clay or rocks, with little to no vegetation mixed in. There is very little water here except what flows down through the dry wadis when it rains, so people who lived here would collect it for times when it didn’t. At the cave site we heard the story of how the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, but the story’s authenticity isn’t known for sure. However the scrolls were discovered, they ended up all over the world, having been sold off by Bedouins, among other things. Today, they have found 8 out of 9 scrolls – one is an exact replica of the book of Isaiah.
A couple of our men walked up to a cave far in the distance, one I would have liked to have seen. It is entirely possible that David once walked this area and lived in those caves, though the Bible isn’t specific as to individual caves (besides Adullam), but it does tell us he roamed the wilderness of Judah, of which this is part.
He also lived in En Gedi, not far from this place. This area was a hideout for David for many of the ten years he ran from King Saul. I wonder if Jesus ever came this far south of the Galilee. I can’t recall a specific time recorded in the Gospels, and most of his ministry took place in the mile to mile-and-a-half triangle near the Galilee. But if He did come this far south, it wouldn’t surprise me. In John 21:25 it says, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” So perhaps…In any case, geography comes to life now as I read Scripture. I’ll be more attentive to the places that are mentioned as I read.
From there we drove to the hotel. Because it was the Shabbat, (Sabbath) the hotel was not ready to accommodate us. They allow late check out (very late – like 5 p.m. or so) on the Sabbath. It is interesting to watch the whole country pretty much shut down, except for the places that fed us, to observe the Sabbath. Very few cars on the roads during this time. Since we couldn’t get into our rooms, we put our luggage in a holding room and took our clothes to a locker room to go down to the Dead Sea.
There is nothing quite like the Dead Sea. At first the water feels like normal water on your legs and feet, and the beach has a smooth, sandy bottom. But when you touch the water with you hand, it feels like oil. The water was cool, making me not so sure I wanted to go all the way in. But one cannot go all the way to Israel and not experience floating in the Dead Sea, and thankfully, the chill quickly dissipated. When you sit, you do not touch bottom because you do not sink. You can move every which way and you will still float. It’s pretty cool!
The hotel had a hot tub and a pool filled with water from the Dead Sea, but we didn’t go in them, mainly because of the crowds. Besides, the sea water mixed with the sweaty clothes from our earlier climb to the Tel at Bet She’an (posted yesterday) made me feel icky – my hair felt like I’d soaked it in olive oil. A shower felt very good!
I did manage to collect a water sample from the sea the next morning, (after a fast trot to the beach and another hurried climb uphill back to the bus – my legs were killing me!) And then, after all that work I thought I would have to give the sample of water up to Customs when we returned to the United States. Apparently, they have a policy about confiscating food or soil brought into the country. Fortunately, they let me keep it.
Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of our trek to Masada and En Gedi. I’ve got 95 pictures of Masada, but I promise to only post a few. :) elohim yevarech otcha (God bless you men)
elohim yevarech otach (God bless you women)
le-hit-ra-’OT (See you soon) (I bought a book on learning Hebrew.) :)