A wonderful day but with sad news. Today I got word that my friend passed from cancer. It placed a damper on my day. She was a believer so is now joyously with our Lord Jesus. I thank Him for her life and the ease with which she left it. I will miss you, Brenda, until we meet again.
We had another great day. We spent the day near and in the Dead Sea. Leaving Jerusalem, we crossed a ridge and suddenly were in the desert. And I mean desert as you can see from the photos. There was simply nothing there. It’s amazing to me that anyone would attempt to live in the area.
This is a date farm. They grow thousands of dates in Israel, exporting them all over the world. Our guide told us archeologists found some 2000 year old date seeds in a dig and attempted to germinate them. Three grew and have produced fruit. The dates are smaller than modern dates and not as sweet but I think it’s pretty cool to know that we have dates typical of those eaten by Jesus and others alive when he was.
These little guys are hyrax and live along the areas near the springs. They are cute and related to elephants. Yeah, I know. It’s hard to believe but I googled it to see if the guide was telling the truth.
We went to En Gedi where David was hiding with his men from Saul who entered the same cave. David’s men urged him to kill Saul but David said he wouldn’t kill the Lord’s anointed. There were caves all over the place. The spring is sweet and plant life flourishes along the water course.
View of Dead Sea from Masada
Masada was a fort built by Herod the Great, who wasn’t so great as he murdered those he seemed to love. He was a great builder, however. The Temple and a number of palaces and also Masada as a fortress and a palace for himself just in case he decided or was forced to go there. His palace on the mount had three floors complete with multiple bedrooms, a private lounge area and private bath. The model shows what it would have looked like 2K ago.
Mosaic floor. Herod, trying to become popular with the Jews, only used patterns to be sure not to offend them with an image.
They found amphoras of or for wine with the equivalent of “Property of Herod” stamped in the clay.
See the squares? Those are Roman encampments.
Herod had all the walls thickly plastered to cover the rough stones. There were six layers of colored plaster to create the designs on the walls. The square structure is a ritual bath most likely added when the Jews came to live on Masada.
A full Roman bath complete with the warm, cold and hot rooms was included in the design. These show the subfloor sections of the hot room.
The major question is how, in the desert with the salt sea, do the fortress have water for the 50 men stationed there? Here, Herod shows his genius. When it would rain on the ridge to the west there would be a flash flood as the ground doesn’t absorb the water. Instead it rushes down the slope. Herod built cisterns and channels to funnel the water into many cisterns. This supplied enough water for 10 years.
The story of Masada is so sad. After the destruction of Jerusalem about 900 Jews fled to Masada. They lived there but harassed the Romans and finally crossed the line when they destroyed a grove of plants used to make the most favored perfume in Rome. Cesar sent 20,000 troops to deal with the 900 Jews. They built a siege ramp and when it became obvious to the Jews they would be attacked and had no way of winning they met and decided that if they couldn’t live free they would die free.
Each man went and killed his children, then his wife by slitting their throats. They the men gathered and drew lots. The man chosen then slit the throat of each man. When all were dead but him, he stabbed himself. When the Romans came onto Masada the next day they found only silence. The only reason we know what happened is that one woman and two girls chose not to die. They told the story. Today, all recruits in the Israeli army go to Masada and the story is told. Then they say, “Never again will Masada be defeated.”
See the black painted line. Above that is restored, below is original.
On we went to Qumran. Recent discoveries have changed the idea that this was an Essene community. Essenes were celibate. They’ve found graves of women so that rules them out. Other things lead away also. Now, they aren’t really sure who lived in the community.
Just behind Qumran is the cave where the first of the Dead Sea Scrolls was found. After they authentication and high priced sale of four of the scrolls word got out to the beduins and they scrambled all over the area looking for more. In all 800 scrolls and 2000 papyrus were found. These included seven complete Bibles, but for Esther.
The end of our day was spent trying out the Dead Sea. It’s extremely salty; 39%. You certainly don’t want to drink it or get it in your eyes. We slathered the mud on us and it left us looking 10 years younger, or so the story goes.
In His Steps
My church offered the opportunity to travel for 10 days in Israel. I jumped at the chance. So daily I will be posting images and comments. I hope you are blessed with what I share.
This blog is dedicated to BL who went to meet our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’ve been friends for over 40 years, raised our boys together, and our lives should have had many more years along side each other. God had other plans. We will be together for eternity.
I love you and will miss you terribly.