Israel Study Tour

Feb 29 - Mar 8, 2016

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Thirsting for Water

Our second day began with a sunrise float in the Dead Sea. Because we were all wearing white hotel robes, someone commented that we looked like an army of angels.

After a delicious breakfast and wonderful cappuccino, we packed up and headed to Masada. Some hiked the snake path, including Melinda who ascended first, while others rode the gondola to the top. Ronan recounted to us the history of Masada. The snake path to the top was a teaching point to keep fighting and to not take our freedom or independence for granted.

Masada

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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After Masada, we stopped for lunch at the park at En Gedi. We then hiked up to caves which were possible sites for David’s encounter with Saul recorded in 1 Samuel 24, and sites for the writings of various Psalms. Bryan taught from Psalm 42 and made the point that in the desert we thirst for water and are constantly searching for it. He challenged us to consider how thirsty we are for the living God in our desert places. David was thirsty in a place of great trial and yet praised him. Regina led us in singing “As the Deer”. We hiked to an En Gedi waterfall where we washed one another’s feet in the refreshingly cool water.

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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Our last stop of the day was Qumran - the location of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ronan shared the history of the men who lived there, how they interpreted the scriptures and how the scrolls were discovered. After a long day we drove back through the West Bank, passed by the area of Jericho, and will now spend the next three nights by the Sea of Galilee.

The take away of today is water and how we thirst for it in a hot, dry climate. It restores us only temporarily, but Jesus is the living water who restores our very souls. We will sleep well tonight in him.

Qumran

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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