Living Water in the Wilderness
Our third day in Israel! And yet another fun and tiring one at that! Today, from our hotel, we drove to the first of three areas that we were going to, Ein Gedi (the Spring of the Goats). Just like Masada, we had to hike to the spring, but instead of going up, up, up, we hiked down, left, right, down. It was closer quarters and a lot more trees and brush! It was beautiful! Ein Gedi was the rock fortress that David ran to when Saul started to pursue him, it was a place of caves and hiding places. Why here? Because there is a huge fresh water spring, The Spring of Ein Gedi. Here we found two gorgeous spots of fresh water pools (after intense hiking of course!) to hang out and swim in. Amazing after 1 ½ hours of hiking!
En Gedi is the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea. The springs here have allowed nearly continuous inhabitation of the site since the Chalcolithic period. The area was allotted to the tribe of Judah, and was famous in the time of Solomon (Josh 15:62). Today the Israeli kibbutz of En Gedi sits along the southern bank of the Nahal Arugot.
We then saw Qumran where the dead sea scrolls were found. It was really cool to see the caves that they were found in as well as the ruins from the Essene settlement there. We learned a lot about the role the scrolls played in the formation of the nation of Israel. After this we had the option to go on a more challenging hike. We climbed up a mountain above the settlement in Qumran. In previous years, Joshua classes wrote on rocks the biggest thing or things they learned during the year. We were able to do the same. We had 15 minutes as a quiet time for prayer and writing something on the stone. Then, following the Joshua tradition, we shouted the Shema off of the mountain. Rather than going down right away, some of us stayed behind for a while longer and prayed. It was a really powerful moment for a lot of us. It was my favorite moment of the trip so far.
10 miles south of Jericho, Qumran was on a “dead-end street” and provided a perfect location for the isolationist sect of the Essenes to live.
The site was excavated by Catholic priest Roland deVaux from 1953-56. More recent excavations of the site have taken place under the direction of Hanan Eshel.
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