Today was the very first day that we went to the east side of the hill country, and we saw the wilderness.
Wilderness of Judah
East of the hill country is dry with just 4 inches of rain whole year. It is because of Foehn wind. When we came close to the dead sea, the wilderness ended and flatbed was spread out in front of us.
Flatbed near the Dead Sea
Finally we met the famous dead sea.
We ran along the Dead Sea shore, and there are so many dates plantations.
Dates Plantation along the Dead Sea
The Bible says about the honey a lot, and the thing is there are no bees and consequently there are no honey. And the guide said Bible mentioned possibly about the dates honey. In this area, people make honey out of fruits, and among them, dates honey is the most common thing.
I thought it is palm tree such as Coconut, but the local guide said it is date tree. And when I went to Jericho today, I tasted a date, and it was so sweet. I think that was the sweetest date I’ve ever eaten. I have no idea why, but all the fruits here in Israel has far much better taste.
We arrived at Ein Gedi, and the very first thing welcomed us was this tree. It is Jujube tree, kind of thorn tree. Many people believe the thorn crown of Jesus was made out of this species of tree (not this tree). The t horns are not only sharp but also very long.
On the Ein Gedi hiking route, I saw three falls, and this is the first one just after the entrance, named lower fall. See how the Ein Gedi is dried and deserted.
Dead Tree next to the fall
The tree is just next to the fall and is dead. When King Saul pursued after David to kill, David fled and hid himself in this Ein Gedi and most probably he saw the same or similar thing that I saw today. He probably projected himself to those trees. His psalm sings, “like a tree planted by the water.” I now think it is not just beautiful poetic expression, but the reality and to him it was the matter of life and death. He had to choose to be one of the two trees, and the situation was hopeless. He must have thought that the only chance to be the green tree is to stick to God.
Watching the Dead Sea from Ein Gedi
If you see the picture above, it is green only along the water. Everywhere else is dry and dead.
Fall of David
This was our destination – the Fall of David. After here, we headed back.
With Paula Hiebert
Paula is my Biblical Hebrew professor at McCormick Theological Seminary and wife of Ted Hiebert. She also is a wonderful OT scholar, studied at Harvard University for her doctoral degree.
Caves of Ein Gedi
There are many caves in Ein Gedi, and maybe David hid himself in one of those caves. After Ein Gedi, we headed to Qumran where the famous Dead Sea Scroll was found.
Replica Jars of Qumran
These are the replica of the jars which contained the scrolls about two thousand years.
Community Rule Scroll
Qumran was actually a community of even 1,000 religious men. Whoever can join but there was three years probation. The life there was very strict, and the scroll above was the Community Rule scroll.
The member’s daily life is full of religious works, including copying the scripture. This is the scriber’s desk.
Ritual Bath Site
One of the religious thing was ritual bath. Ritual bath itself was not unique to this community but Essenes emphasised very much, and they had several ritual bath sites when they didn’t have enough water even to drink. Above photo is the actual archaeological site of their ritual bath.
Qumran Cave No. 4
This is Qumran cave No. 4 and is most important cave. It may not be impossible, but highly unlikely that there would be another scrolls to be found, because they searched the entire vicinity thoroughly. At Qumran site, there was a huge group of Korean tourists, and I heard the leader said, “I said SIT DOWN.” Some local people said that they see more Koreans than Jews in Israel, and I also saw a Korean signs in Jericho. We had lunch at Qumran.
Dead Sea Kalia Beach
After lunch, we went to Kalia Beach of the Dead Sea. Paula and Ted used to live in Israel for a year and she today told me that she can easily recognise that the water level of the dead sea lowered a lot. Our guide said that the dead sea is dying. It is so sad that everywhere I go, they say the nature is dying. When I went to see the glacier on Rocky Mountains in Canada, the guide said that the glacier is dying. I am afraid in one or two generation, if the guide would just say to the people that ‘it used to be dead sea,’ or ‘it used to be glacier here.’
The mud was so sticky and it tried to take my shoes off all the time. I tasted the water expecting the saltness but I tasted extremely bitterness. And several seconds after, I began to taste the saltness. And I thought about the Elisha’s miracle in Jericho. People appealed to him that the spring water was too bitter. I guess that was because the spring was connected to the dead sea. And Elisha put salt into it. The water is bitter because of too much salt, and he added even more salt. It is crazy and non-sense. His treatment doesn’t really make any sense. But it worked. Likewise, I think, God’s way and Christian’s way is crazy and non-sense to other people’s eyes. But if God helps us, we can do miracles.
I actually wanted to take a photo holding a news paper or something, but I could not find any. There was a lady who refused to go in because she cannot swim. So I told her the body floats automatically. It feels like someone pushed me up from inside the water.
Dead sea is about 430 metres below sea level, and it is very warm. So we enjoyed semi-summer weather today. The Dead Sea contains high percentage of salt and diverse minerals, they sell the mud for lady’s skin. And I feel my skin got softer and better after the bathing.
Zacchaeus climbed this tree
We went to Jericho, our final destination for today. It is believed that Jesus called Zacchaeus down from this tree. I hope everyone can meet Jesus and be called by Him.
Peacock in Jericho
We went to a very important archaeological site, and there were so many peacocks. They reminded me my honeymoon at Hawaii.
Camel in Jericho
And I saw a camel. Unlike the public image of Israel, I haven’t seen any camel until today. I don’t think even that camel is not for transportation but for fun ride.
The mountain on the back is the Mount Quarantania which means forty, and is also called Temptation Mountain. It is believed that Jesus fasted for forty days and nights and tempted at this mountain.
This is 5,000 BC, so it is about 7,000 years old.
Layers of time
This is the layers of time. Black layers mean the fire destruction.
10,000 BC Tower
This is the tower built around 10,000 BC and consequently it is 12,000 years old. And this is one of the earliest building of the human history. Actually Jericho is THE OLDEST CITY in the world.
Fortress of 1,900 BC
This is the fortress and walls behind for fortification built around 1,900 BC. The buildings in ancient Jericho was built with mud bricks and you can see them in the photo. So far the archaeologists failed to find the Jericho wall that Joshua destroyed. Some scholars say that Israel did not really come and destroyed, but the city automatically emptied by themselves even before Israelites came. Some scholars believe that we just did not find the right one yet.