Israel, Jordan Study Tour with Living Oaks Church

October 1-13, 2018

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Along the Way and Up to Jerusalem

Today’s adventure started off with an early morning swim in the Dead Sea. However, swimming is somewhat of a misnomer. There was a lot of bobbing and floating, but certainly no real swimming. With the Dead Sea being 30 times saltier than the ocean, and being loaded with all sorts of minerals, it was like being in a giant pool of unset jello. After a quick rinse, we were off to our next stop-Masada. As a group we took cable cars up to the top of this impressive fortress. Here we learned this is where Jewish zealots made their last stand against the Romans in 73 AD.

After a quick picnic lunch, we headed off to Ein Gedi. This is an oasis in the desert where David was hiding from King Saul and has an encounter with him as we read in 1 Samuel 24. As it was an extremely hot day, it was easy to see how welcome this place would be to weary, overheated desert travelers. It was also a place with many animals, including the ibex, a cute cousin to the goat, which is used as the official symbol in the park system of Israel.

The next stop was just down the highway a bit-Qumran. This is the place where in 1947, two young Muslim sheepherders threw stones into a cave and heard the sound of pottery breaking. It was the beginning of the greatest discovery of modern times. As more caves were discovered with scrolls, the entire Old Testament (with two exceptions) was discovered. These scrolls were believed to be from a group known as the Essenes. It is thought that this group was that of which John the Baptist was a part.

Then we drove up to Jerusalem. Driving through the hills we passed many Bedouin camps with their flocks and herds. Then we crested the mountain and entered the city of Jerusalem. It is difficult to explain how both life styles are at home in this place. The past and present live side-by-side, day-by-day.

Greg and Vicki Gibson

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