Israel Study Tour with Taft Avenue Community Church

September 12-23, 2022

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Day 02 - Negev: Masada, Bedouin Hospitality, Tel Arad, Dead Sea

Today we got to go to Masada, the stronghold of Israel, which towers over the eastern border and the Dead Sea. Several of us were looking forward to hiking up the famous Snake Path, but they had it closed for the day. So we all loaded up into a cable car to begin our ascent. On top of the solitary mountain, Ronen told us the history of Masada and the region through six stories, including vignettes about Herod the Great, and the Zealots who held out long after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

We then descended the still standing Roman siege ramp on the backside of Masada.

From there, our bus driver Allon took us into the Judean Wilderness to Kfar Hanokdim. A kfar is a village, and this one is located to the side of the road, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Here we boarded a unique form of transportation: camels. We laughed as our group paired up for a ride around the countryside. Getting on and off of a camel makes for some roller coaster-like experiences!

That taste of wilderness life gave way to lunch and then a meaningful hospitality experience inside a Bedouin tent. We were served tea, coffee, and fresh bread, as we explored the biblical descriptions of hospitality from Abraham through to Hebrews and 1 Peter in the New Testament.

We then headed west to Tel Arad at the base of the Judean mountains. Here we learned about spiritual compromise and true worship. We also had a great view of the Negev, the south of Israel on the way to Egypt.

To finish the day we enjoyed slathering on some Dead Sea mud and floating in the Dead Sea. This amazing experience caused a lot of laughter and some disorientation as we alternately relaxed, barrel rolled in the water, and plucked salt crystal balls off the lake floor.

What a day! Can’t wait for what tomorrow brings!

Andrew Gilmore

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