Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Israel 2016, Day 14

I almost fell off a mountain today!

We got to off an early start. Sunrise over the Dead Sea was spectacular.  

Those are the biblical mountains of Moab
Our first destination was Ein Gedi, the Spring of the Goat, part of the Nahal David, a major wadi that empties into the Dead Sea. 

Ein Gedi is famous for being the area of caves in which David hid from Saul in 1 Sam 23-24.  It also shows up in 2 Chron 20, Ez 47:6-10 and Songs of Solomon 1:14. 

It is a steep and beautiful area marked by fresh water springs and plenty of greenery. 
No wonder David was so hard to find! There are hundreds of caves in the limestone cliffs. 

The spring empties into the Dead Sea

Ed and Laura

Right up the road a few miles is Qumran. Qumran was a settlement of Orthodox fundamentalist Jews who were devoted to producing detailed and accurate copies of the biblical text and some secular writings during the inter-testamental period. Their village was large, well appointed and designed to provide a place where they could work while being set apart from the culture of the day. 

When they heard the Romans had attacked Jerusalem, they hid their writing in the caves above the Dead Sea and fled to Masada, which we visited earlier in the day. They never made it back.

In the 1940's, some Bedouin shepherds were trying to round up their sheep from a cave. One of them threw a stone into the cave in an effort to scare the sheep out. He heard something shatter. Looking inside the cave, he found a large pot with some leather scrolls inside. Thinking they might be worth something, he took them. Eventually they fell into the hands of a Hebrew scholar who recognized them for the precious artifacts they were. Among them were passages and whole books of Scripture. 

Upon exploring the caves in the area the shepherd found the first vessel, they found hundreds of others, many of them Old Testament texts that were a thousand years older than the oldest texts available. 

The biblical world held its breath. What would the scrolls reveal? Will they agree with the more recent texts the Bible was based upon, most of them written a thousand years after the event occurred? Were the newer texts accurate? These newly discovered texts dated back to a hundred years after the crucifixion of Christ. 

After careful unfolding and preservation of the scrolls, they were found to be in complete harmony with the previous oldest texts. God's word is not only true, it is reliable and has been preserved by His hand!

Here are some of the features of the village. 

This room was called the Scriptorum. It was where the writing took place.

There are a number of mikvahs, ritual baths, on the site

The caves that held scrolls were number in the order they were discovered. This is Cave #4.

A few more miles down the road is Cave #1, the cave where the first discovery was made. Dr. G. was careful to caution everyone that it was a hot day and the climb to the cave was steep and slippery. I didn't have to think twice about it. I wanted to stand in that cave!

I took water and a note pad and set off with most of the group. A few chose to stay behind. We started up the mountain and it was, indeed, quite steep. I was out of breath but doing OK up until I was about 50 feet from the cave. Suddenly, my head started spinning and I became disoriented. We were pretty high up! I knew enough to just plop down on the ground before I fell over and tumbled down the mountain side. A number of folks came to my aid but I just needed some water.

I keep myself hydrated pretty well, drinking 5-6 glasses of water a day on a normal day, quite a bit more on this trip. Still, between the climbing and sweating, I got dehydrated. I had water with me and within a few minutes was doing just fine. But, by then. everyone was on their way back down. 

I made it down fine, disappointed that I missed being in the cave but happy I was still around to miss it! 

Headed toward the mountain

Not bad at the lower level, but slippery with a lot of loose rock

Now we're getting pretty high up and the paths are narrow if they exist at all.

I made it far enough to take this picture! 

We got on the bus and headed for Yad Hashmona, about 20 miles west of Jerusalem. We'll stay there two nights with tomorrow, May 21, being a free day. 

On the way, we stopped for a restroom break. Sang and Myung got to meet a camel !

Here's our progress so far. 

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