June 24, 2016
Today we hiked up Timna in the Sinai desert. Our hike was up a shadeless rocky path that offered little relief from the sun. We were happy to find a small broom tree that offered us a bit of relief. We made our way up the sides of the mountain search for hand holds and places for our feet to land. We stopped along the way reflecting on the walk that Israelites took through the wilderness for 40 years, a time of testing and refinement. We scaled to the top and felt tested ourselves as it got hotter and rockier. We reflected on Exodus 19 where God said, ‘Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ God was creating a marriage covenant with the Israelites and the next chapter, chapter 20, God lays out the vows of the covenant, the ten commandments. Hearing the ten commandments put into this context, shined a new light on them. They shouldn’t be seen as a list of rules but words of a lover, laying out the vows of a marriage. At the end we shouted “we do” as a statement of acceptance of vows laid out before us. We made a stack of rocks as a memory of our vow that we hope will still be standing the next time a group makes it up there. Our fearless group made our way down the rock face, following the leader one step at a time. The path was treacherous for a bit but we became more and more like family as some of the stronger group members planted themselves along the trail to offer a hand to those coming down. We all made it down safely and ate a wonderful lunch of pita and hummus sandwiches. Temperatures were around 106 degrees as we finished our hike. One of our gracious group members, Bob Karel, bought the group ice cream, a welcomed treat after the hot hike. Thanks Bob!
The Timna Valley is located 15 miles (25 km) north of Eilat (Elath). It is not mentioned in the Bible but was used for copper mining during the biblical period. The valley of Timna is 35 square miles (90 sq km) with high mountains (1600-2300 ft; 500-700 m) on all sides except in the east. Mount Timna in the center rises 1486 feet (453 m) above the surrounding valley. The valley is drained by four wadis.