To actually go see
It’s not hump day but we rode some camels today! It felt like it could have been a scene in a movie. We pulled up in the bus and saw all of the camels sitting there, ready for us. Before we went on our ride, we watched an informational video to ensure our safety and the safety of the camels. We were already laughing before we even got out there. We picked a buddy, got escorted to a camel and hopped on. After we started riding I remember scanning the desert, looking at the best friends I have ever known, laughing so hard at all the jokes being shouted and all the camels that were pooping or growling. My stomach actually hurt from laughing. It was one of those days. I absolutely loved it.
Vicki here on the blog!
Our second day in Israel has been a blast. We started off the day by eating breakfast at our hotel and hiking Masada. Masada was Herod the Great’s fortress back in biblical times. The hike itself was one that had been hyped up for us all year. We had been told it was one of the toughest hikes we do in Israel, which made us all kind of nervous. After a lot of breaks were taken and lots of water was consumed we all made it to the top. We spent the rest of the morning learning more about the fortress. In our Ancient Israel class, we spent a lot of time talking about Masada so we all thought it was really cool to actually go see where we’ve been the studying.
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).
This trip has been quite an eye opening one for me. I’ve dreamt about going to Israel for the last year and half or so and it’s crazy that it’s finally here. Yesterday, we went to the valley of Ellah, where David caught Goliath. During our time there, our RD Seth talked to us about the reason that the Israelites kept loosing against the Philistines in battle; they didn’t trust in the power of their God. During Joshua, especially, lately, there have been many moments where I’ve been challenged to trust in the power of the God that I serve. A God who restores, redeems, and redefines, even when I can’t see it or feel it. I’m really thankful that Joshua allows us to come Israel and experience the Bible first hand and I can’t wait to see more of what God wants to do through bringing these places and stories to life while we’re here.
The Dead Sea
We all went into our rooms, suited up, and put on our robes. The Dead Sea is right across the street from our hotel, so we walked over and were able to get right in. Ronan provided us with some Dead Sea mud to put on our faces and bodies before getting in. When in the Dead Sea, our bodies float right up. It was so relaxing to be able to lean back and sit in the water without having to hold ourselves above the surface. Because there is so much salt, we had to be careful about not getting it in our eyes or mouths or any cuts we had. Some people accidentally got water in their eyes and had to be led to the shore to rinse them out with freshwater! The Dead Sea was a relaxing and fun experience for all of us.
Arad is a Cannanite name from the word “shepherd.” A Jewish community lived here. It was a great place in the Negev because even though it is still in the desert, there was water, agriculture, and it was pretty close to Masada, Beersheba, and the Mediterranean Coast. However, the ark of the covenant, in all three of its homes, was about a weeks worth of travel away from Arad. Because of this, the people in Arad created their own temple and had a statue in the Holy of Holies of God and his wife, Asherah. We can learn an important thing from them, that Yahweh is not my way. Even if God seems far away sometimes, we do not need to replace him with idols.
Like many cities in the Holy Land, Arad was repeatedly settled because of its strategic geographical location. Though situated in an area with little rainfall, Arad was inhabited frequently in ancient times because of its position along the routes coming from the east and southeast.
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