Israel Study Tour with Calvin Theological Seminary

January 3-15, 2016

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Looking for a touch from God

What happened today? We went to Ein Gedi, the wilderness where David hid in a cave when Saul pursued him ( 1 Sam 23:29,24:1). We were not shown the exact location of David's cave. No one knows. But how providential and somewhat humorous that out of the many caves in Ein Gedii, Saul should choose to use the bathroom In David's hiding spot.

Ein Gedi

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.

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Some of us also followed the brutal steep trail up to Masada, a rock fortress on an isolated hill surrounded by precipitous cliffs built in the event of a siege. The height gives a good vantage point but the fortress walls, although about 4 feet wide, were not impenetrable. The fortress was finally destroyed by the Romans around 74AD.


The summit of Masada sits 190 feet (59 m) above sea level and about 1,500 feet (470 m) above the level of the Dead Sea. The mountain itself is 1950 feet (610 m) long, 650 feet (200 m) wide, 4,250 feet (1330 m) in circumference, and encompasses 23 acres. The “Snake Path” climbs 900 feet (280 m) in elevation. From the west, the difference in height is 225 feet (70 m).

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The highlight of the day was floating in the Dead Sea. Imagine feet, hands, heads sticking out, buoyed in shallow water because of the density of salt. God showed up in many ways throughout the day, but our desire to soak in initially biting-cold water, even to just get our hands wet seemed to resonate with the spiritual pulse of all who visit, that we're looking for a touch from God.


Dead Sea

Known in the Bible as the “Salt Sea” or the “Sea of the Arabah,” this inland body of water is appropriately named because its high mineral content allows nothing to live in its waters. Other post-biblical names for the Dead Sea include the “Sea of Sodom,” the “Sea of Lot,” the “Sea of Asphalt” and the “Stinking Sea.” In the Crusader period, it was sometimes called the “Devil’s Sea.” All of these names reflect something of the nature of this lake.

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