Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Blog 10 Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran, Dead Sea

Blog 10 Masada, Ein Gedi, Qumran, Dead Sea

Shalom, everyone! What a magnificent day this has been. Breakfast, as always, was good. Our accommodations have been and are good. As you already know, while in Jerusalem, we are staying the Grand Court Hotel. It lays just a little North of the old city of Jerusalem. If we had the time, we could walk to the old city within a few minutes.

We left Jerusalem (rising about 2,700 feet above sea level) this morning, heading for the Dead Sea area. The Dead Sea lies almost 1,300 feet below sea level. Our descent from Jerusalem was pretty significant.

Our first stop for the day was at a place called Masada. Masada is located in the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The name Masada means “fortress.” It was a place developed by King Herod who may have used it as a winter retreat with the belief that one day he could use it for a “hiding place” from those he imagined wanted to kill him.

This place has a great place in the history of Israel and for the Jewish people. A modern cable car carried us to the top of this natural mountain fortification developed by Herod the Great. Herod was called “the Great” because of his excellent architectural abilities. He was the kind of guy that you would not want to invite home for dinner or include on your circle of friends. He was brutal and proved it on many occasions.

There are many important and extremely interesting historical truths connected with Masada. Still to me, one of the most significant things about walking atop this marvelous mountain is the panoramic view it provides of the Southern end of the Dead Sea. It is in this area of the Dead Sea that scholars believe the cities of Sodom and Gomorah are buried. No man knows for sure, but God does and in the end, that’s all that matters. We do not need to know the location of these famous Bible cities but we do need to know the lesson God intends us to learn.

One more quick thing, when Lot look towards Sodom and Gomorah, the Bible says the Jordan Valley was water like the well watered area of Egypt from whence he and uncle Abraham had just returned. As I looked at this area and though about this, I can see how this could be true. How? In light of the fact that today it is barren and very dry. Because, when the land of Israel experienced two seasons of rain, both the early and the latter and understanding that the water of Jerusalem eventually ends up in this area via the Judean wilderness and the wadis (small river beds or little valleys), I can see how this place might have been lush.

A wild Gedi at Eiin Gedi

Following our hot time on the top of Masada, we headed for Ein Gedi or the home of the wild goat. This is an interesting place to me. It is one of the osasis’ located in the Southern part of the Dead Sea.

Cave  where Scrolls were
found in 1947

We were headed for a place called Qumran. This is the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by an Arab shepherd boy looking for some of his father’s lost goats. If he had not been a little lazy, this discovery would not have been made. BUT, as you know, there is NO such thing as chance when it comes to a sovereign God guiding the steps of little man as He does and when He does. The complete Book of Isaiah was discovered there is 1946, among many other thousand pieces of manuscripts dating centuries earlier. With the exception of three or five discrepancies (depending on the source) that are little more than punctuation differences, the Dead Sea Scrolls match what is known as the Textus Receptus manuscript from which our beloved King James Bible was translated.

This 66 chapter book is commonly known as and referred as “the mini-Bible.” The similarities between the Book of Isaiah and the Bible are remarkable in many ways. I am sure that your personal research on this subject will be rewarded in a number of wonderful ways.

FYI: I personally do not believe it was a ‘chance thing’ (and I DO NOT believe in chance or luck…no such thing: I believe that all things work….) that this discovery was made the year that preceeded the rebirth of the nation of Israel! Oh I would like to say so much here, but both time and space will not allow.

Qumran is one of the highlights of any pilgrimage to Israel. Each item that Qumran is built upon and the history that it provides only proves the sovereignty of an Omniscient God. As we listened to our guide speak about what makes Qumran what it is, it becomes apparent that a guiding hand has been at work creating a special place, possessing special characteristics in order to produce such a miraculous treasure as the Dead Sea Scrolls are. Copied, encrypted in a clay pot (not a wood or metal vessel), housed in a place where the humidity is perfect for preservation, and a place where discovery was inevitable in time and at the right time, the Dead Sea Scrolls must be classed as one of, if not the greatest archaeological discoveries of the last one hundred years if not in the entire history of archaeology itself. But then again, as I type this, I know I may be, well, actually I am, prejudice. I will not offer an apology.

From Qumran, it just a short trip to a place where some folks had the privilege to experience the Dead Sea in a personal way. Several in our group spent a few minutes in the Dead Sea, even those who could not swim! You don’t have to know how to swim in this body of water. It is impossible to not float here. The water has such a high viscosity that a human body, unless heavily weighted down, will float. Do you know why the Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea? Want more trivia? What famous Bible river feeds the Dead Sea? (Actually it not longer flows into the Dead Sea with the exception of during the rainy season.) What two famous cities mentioned in the Bible thought to be located under the most Southern part of the Dead Sea? Enough trivia don’t you think?

After another long day, we quietly made our way back to the Grand Court. We went from almost 1,300 feet below sea level to about 2,700 feet above sea level. Mauri says that in Israel “we have both the best and the worst. The time we have left in Israel is getting shorter very quickly. Our days here in the land of Israel have almost come and gone. Soon we will back home with family and friends telling our stories and making plans for our next pilgrimage…but not yet. :O)

Tomorrow is still to come and it is a marvelous day that lies before us.

I’ll tell you about it then.

As always, thanks for coming by and reading about our adventures of the day. I do hope this effort is a blessing to all. Remember too, if you did not come by to read, it would not do me any good to be here typing.

From tired and happy pilgrims walking through Israel,