Bridgeway Israel in Depth Study Tour

May 6-17, 2018

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Ein Gedi & Qumran

A Morning in Ein Gedi by Brad Hobermann

When I came to Christ my first pastor mentored me. We met once a week, going through the Bible one book at a time. I wanted to embrace my Jewish roots by starting in Genesis, but my pastor insisted on starting in Matthew. Every week I completed my assignments and Bible reading. After getting a great start and really digging into the Bible, my pastor told me to start reading Psalms. Today we started our day in Ein Gedi. This is where David hid from King Saul and it is near the cave where David cut the garment King Saul was wearing. After reflecting on what he did, David told King Saul that since Saul was anointed by God to be king David would not bring harm to him. Starting in Ein Gedi this morning brought both this story and the Psalms to life for me. Crawling in the same caves David and King Saul were in was humbling. After a short lesson from Pastor Matt, we each took turns standing under a waterfall, which was meant to symbolize God’s Spirit rushing over us. That was the highlight of the morning for me.

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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Qumran and the Lower Jordan by Brian Kiley

Following a beautiful morning in Ein Gedi we proceeded to Qumran, the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. Pastor Matt led us through a teaching to help us better understand the Qumran community. I’ve always been fascinated by the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the Scrolls. It is incredible to me that such a historic find was stumbled upon by a shepherd. Pastor Matt’s lesson gave us some insight into some of the eccentricities of the Qumran community, and our understanding was enriched by walking through some of the stone structures found in the area. Many of us from our group also went on a short hike to a place where we were able to climb rocks and climb into some small caves. Our stops in Ein Gedi and Qumran featured a beautiful combination of biblical teaching and opportunity for adventure.

After Qumran we proceeded to the Lower Jordan River, the place where it is believed Jesus was baptized. The site itself was interesting in a few different ways. First of all, there was a substantial complex built around the river. It was clearly meant to host large groups. Second, there were many people from other groups all dressed in white baptismal gowns, which was in itself a sight to behold. Third, it was striking how close we were to the Jordanian border. Jordan was about a ten-second swim across the river, and there were soldiers from both Israel and Jordan on their respective sides of the river. While we were there Ronen led us through a teaching that talked about three significant transitions in leadership that are found in Scripture: Moses to Joshua, Elijah to Elisha, and John the Baptist to Jesus. In all three cases, the person on the receiving end of the transition was named “God is my salvation”. Following the teaching we all had the chance to dip our toes into the river. Like so many other stops on this trip, the visit to the river was surreal. It’s hard to put into words what it was like to stand in the very water where our Savior was baptized.

After that we drove up to the Sea of Galilee, where we’ll be staying for the next three nights. It’s a beautiful location, and I look forward to another great day of exploration and learning tomorrow!

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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