Day 10--Tuesday, APRIL 4
After playing in the Dead Sea last evening and enjoying a night in a spa hotel, we began our journey north again making our first stop at the ancient mountain fortress known as Masada. In Hebrew, the word "masada" means fortress, and that is exactly what this piece of real estate became over time. For the Jews, this special place represents the last Jewish stronghold against Roman invasion. The Roman army of 20,000 came against 967 Jewish people (men, women and children). Why did the Romans need to take this? They didn't. But it was about dominance. Kind of like the Alamo.
To learn more, go to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/masada-desert-fortress.
After getting to the top, we were all able to hear more about the history and explore the various structures that have endured. Fortunately for us, historian Flavius Josephus was able to pass along the accounts of what occurred here.
After grabbing a Magnum ice cream bar, we boarded the bus to move further north to the beautiful site of En Gedi. Here was another hike, but it was a wonderful trek back into a waterfall and cove, along welcoming pools and beautiful scenery. Two creatures are frequently seen here: the Ibex and the Hyrex. If you don't know what they are, look it up and marvel. At the first pool we stopped to read Proverbs 30:24-28 and Zechariah 14:1-11 as we connected past and future. I remarked to several of my tripmates that I could spend a week at En Gedi alone with God. Interestingly, my allergies went crazy here. Go figure!
After a shopping stop at the Dead Sea's AHAVA outlet store for skin treatment, we enjoyed lunch and then the site of Qumran. To learn more, go to http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/EinGedi.html.
Qumran is the famous location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by accident in a cave in the area. The Qumran find has exonerated the veracity of the Old Testament against the liberal thinkers of the day who were skeptical about it up to that point. Isaiah scroll was a phenomenal find. The Essenes, a private religious community living in the desert) hid the scrolls because after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD they aimed they were the last Jews alive. We opened our Bibles and read Luke 1:5-20; 3:1-3 about Zechariah and John the Baptist.
At Qumran more than 800 caves are still unexplored. Why? One reason is that handling the scrolls is a difficult issue because Qumran is in the West Bank. It is about control. One person reminded us that Muslims begin dating history that matters to them with Muhammed, so they will destroy anything prior to that because to them it is irrelevant.
WHAT DID OUR FATHER TEACH ME TODAY?
Humility hurts. Hiking up the face of Masada needs to be balanced with the pace at which you attempt it. There are two ways to get to the top of this mountain that towers 1424 feet above the Dead Sea: (1) take a 3-minute cable car ride, or (2) walk it. Of the 36 people on the trip, 13 of us determined to make our way up the Snake Path on the eastern side of Masada. All was well for about half the hike until I began noticing my heartrate running too high. So for the remainder of the hike I had to slow my pace, work at deep breathing, and get to the top behind everyone else. It became a grueling hike for me not because of leg fatigue but because of heart rate and nausea. My legs are strong, but my heart rate just got too high so I needed more frequent breaks. The team was gracious to wait for me and cheer me on. Thanks, everyone!
Two movies to consider as well: The Dove Keepers and Masada