Israel Familiarization Trip

January 4-15, 2016

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Water in the desert

My time in Israel has been unlike any other. I have to keep reminding myself that these places we are visiting and the sites we are seeing are actual places where Biblical characters have walked, lived, and encountered God. We are only on day three and I find myself having a tough time choosing highlight of the trip thus far.

Today in En Gedi I was able to understand and view the Psalms of David in a way that I have not before. I was standing beside a tree looking up at the massive rock structures including caves where David could have quite easily hid, and that was a surreal moment. As I gazed down at the trees below where a stream of water used to be, the whole concept of a “tree planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1) made more sense than ever before. In the middle of a desert God has provided trees and a stream of water. As the stream of water sustains the trees, so God sustains us today. In our very own lives we can often feel dry and even lost, but God is faithful and He continues to give us just enough, and we need only to trust Him. The desert can be a frustrating place for us, but it is where God works in his people and reminds us of who He is.

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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After experiencing En Gedi, we hopped back on the bus and traveled to the place where seven of the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, including the book of Isaiah. For me, this was an incredible place to visit due to the value and importance of God’s Word in our lives as Christians today. It is easy to say I have not fully processed my experiences so far, but I look forward to that time. I am so grateful the Lord has allowed me to be here in this time to experience Him afresh and see the Biblical text come alive.

Eryn Holm
High School Associate Director
Calvary Church of Santa Ana


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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journi|Steve Williams||Mikveh for ritual immersions at Qumran. Also caves seen in the hills around the community.

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journi|Steve Williams||Qum Ran where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered by a shepherd looking for lost sheep or goat in 1948. Took our possession of ancient Hebrew scripture texts a giant leap of over 1000 years into the past.

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journi|Steve Williams||The Acacia tree which grows in the wilderness of Israel. This is the wood used in the Ark of the Covenant.

journi|Steve Williams||Zoom in to see the Biblical Hyrax sitting on a tree branch in the middle of the tree.

journi|Steve Williams||One of the reasons David hid in En Gedi - streams of fresh water. Likely the idea of Deer panting for streams of water came from the Ibex going to the water in En Gedi.

journi|Steve Williams||The "Broom Tree" behind Ronan in the Wadi of En Gedi. This is the tree Elijah laid under in his Journey in the wilderness running from Jezebel.

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journi|Steve Williams||Hiking into the cliffs of En Gedi where David hid while Saul pursued him to kill him. Spotted Ibex - the national animal of Israel.

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