Day 6 - 2/20 – Saturday: Masada, Ein-gedi, Qumran, Dead Sea and Wadi Qelt
It was another warm and sunny day today (70s) here in the Dead Sea area. The morning began at Masada, a fortress/palace built by Herod the Great. We rode the cable car for 80 souls up. We saw the Roman ramp, the western palace, the bath house, captain quarters and storerooms, and heard the challenging story of the siege of this place with the 967 faithful Jews holding out to the end. Psalm 18:1-2 comes to mind as we realize that God is our rock and our fortress.
About 15 minutes north is Ein-gedi. Here we read from 1 Samuel 23 and 24. This is where David hid from Saul in the cave and cut off a piece of his cloak to prove that He could have killed him. But David promised that Saul’s life was at the mercy of the will of the Lord and not him. We continued here by walking back to a water fall of this Oasis in the desert and enjoyed the uniqueness of this area and a wonderful devotion by Daryl.
Our third stop was Qumran. This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essene community 2000 years ago, thus preserving the texts of Scripture. We visited the archaeological dig site, seeing various miqvot (ritual baths), the scriptorium, as well as a cave in which the scrolls were found. Following the visit, we ate a late lunch here and took in the huge gift shop.
The encounter of floating in the Dead Sea was a big surprise for all who dared the mud baths and floating in a salt sea twice as salty as our Atlantic Ocean. There was more laughter and smiles than anyone expected.
From here we started heading back to Jerusalem, ascending 4,000 feet in elevation. Along the way we stopped in the Judean wilderness location of Wadi Qelt. We read from Psalm 23, depicting vivid and colorful images of this unique region of desert and two things that Christ reminds us – the narrow way and that He is with us in every valley/challenge/situation/moment of our lives. Just as we were contemplating these things, surrounded by our new Bedouin vendor friends, a large Muslim family came to visit the site. Three monotheistic faiths represented at a place that Joshua, Isaiah, David and Christ all would have passed through. It was amazing... and maybe a divine appointment!
We all are looking forward to spending our first full day around the Golden City tomorrow with Bethlehem, the Garden of Gethsemane and the Palm Sunday route on our agenda.