Dead Sea & En Gedi
After our tour of Masada, we went to the Dead Sea, and floated in it. That was an incredible spot. But very slippery, and the salt was very acrid. We were warned not to get any in our eyes, or mouths. What was hard was, once your feet went up, getting back to shore was not a picnic. I have to be honest and say of all the spots we visited, that was my least favorite. I am glad I did it once, but once is enough. Perhaps at spas where there is a sandy bottom my perception would be different. The Dead Sea is getting smaller and smaller as time goes by. It is frightening to the locals and they are debating what to do about the diminishing sea. One idea is to bring water from the Red Sea and put it into the Dead Sea – the slogan being, “From Red to Dead.” They are not acting quickly on this because they have learned from the past that ecology can be ruined if one acts too fast. (Heather’s note, perhaps prayer would be more effective in this.)
Right before we visited Israel, they had an unusual rain storm where it rained 12 inches in one day. The Mt. of Olives flooded, and there were pictures in the local newspapers that mirror the floods we have received locally. What made this unusual is it usually doesn’t rain in May. Nurit kept pointing out the damage caused by the flooding.
What also happened because of the rain is there were sink holes formed around the Dead Sea, and lots of gullies formed by the flash floods.
Some people took huge clumps of salt from the rocks. The muslim women went into the Dead Sea fully clothed in burkas.
Pastor Don had the driver stop the bus alongside the road and pointed out caves in the mountainside. These were the caves where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls.
You can see the cave to the left, in the shorter mountain. It was one of the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Shepherd boys were crawling around the caves, and tossed a rock into the cave, hearing a tinkling sound of breaking pottery. They found a scroll and sold it in the market. Eventually a buyer asked where the scrolls were found, and a treasure was uncovered. What made the scrolls so important is scholars compared the scrolls found in these caves with current Old Testament Scriptures and found out that the texts were virtually the same, the only difference being an occasional punctuation mark. That kind of defeats the argument that the Bible can’t be trusted because translations change the text – if documents hidden thousands of years ago agree with the current Scriptures, then translations have not changed the meaning of the text. There were 300 scrolls found. No one knows why the scrolls were put into a cave. Nurit said they never threw away an old Torah, but buried the worn out copies, and it is possible the scrolls were buried in a cave. John the Baptist and the Essenes lived in this area. It is also possible the Essenes buried the scrolls to protect them from the enemy.
We also visited an oasis of En Gedi. Most of the springs around the Dead Sea have a high salt content, but En Gedi is one of two fresh water springs. Josephus praised En Gedi for palm trees and basalm. Ezekiel predicted that fishermen would line the shores of the Dead Sea by En Gedi (Ezekiel 47:10).
Around 1000 BC, when David fled from Saul (1 Samuel 23) he stayed in the strongholds at En Gedi. En Gedi means “the spring of the kid (goat). Ibex live near En Gedi. When we were walking toward the waterfall, we saw Ibex and other creatures. They kept walking, not afraid of the humans.
One time, when David was fleeing from King Saul, pursuers searched near En Gedi. Saul went into a cave around here to take care of his needs. David and his men were hiding in the recesses of the same cave. When Saul slept, David came and cut off part of the hem of Saul’s garment to let Saul know that David posed no threat to Saul’s life. 1 Samuel 24.
You can see a cave with a stone in the opening. Hermits have come to live in these caves since the time of Jesus.
We had to walk quite some way to get to the waterfall.
There were streams that people were swimming in.
And beautiful waterfalls. It is hard to believe that such an oasis can exist in the middle of the desert.
Part of the tradition of visiting En Gedi is to get into the water and stand under the waterfall.
You can see a Muslim woman in a burka enjoying the waterfall.
Here am I in my blue suit under the waterfall. Had to get that picture so that Jim could see that I really did this. What was exciting is, at one point when many of our group were in the water, a rainbow formed.
From certain spots on our descent from En Gedi you could see the Dead Sea. It was a good tactical position for conquest of Israel, and some of the various “ites” (Amorites, etc) came and conquered Israel from the base of En Gedi.
I am going to save Jericho for another posting because there is so much to share about that.
Hope you enjoy these pictures.
Have a blessed night!
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