Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Israel 2016, Days 12 & 13

I'm writing this on Day 15, May 21. We've been staying in a very small village, at a facility named Yad Hashmon, about a mile for what used to be called Kiriath-Jearim. It's a beautiful place run by Messianic Jews and Christians who have moved to Israel. 

Since we have a decent wi-fi signal, I can get caught up. So, I'm going to combine the previous two days into one posting.

Day 12

We spent the day in The Negev, an arid area south of Jerusalem, shaped somewhat like an hourglass with Be'er Sheva in the middle.

Be'er Sheva was our first stop. In this region, water rights were everything and always in dispute. In Gen 21, Abraham and Abimilech (a title more than a name, similar to "Pharaoh") negotiate for the water rights  and name the location Be'er Sheva. (Beersheba). It shows up in 1 Sam 18 and Judges 15:30-31. 
The surrounding area is dry but not a desert. 
The ancient city was large and sophisticated for its time.
This is a very large cistern, designed to hold water for those times of no rain. Many of the ancient cities had surprisingly sophisticated water systems.
This is a bench at the gates of the city. This is where the elders of the city would sit and adjudicate issues among the people. "Elders at the gate."
Arad, on the  northeast side of the Negev was next. There was an upper and lower city. The upper city was newer, built in the Byzantine Ear. The lower city was built by David. Arad shows up frequently in the Old Testament (Num 21-33, Josh 12, Judges 16 and a few other places)

The upper city was a strong fortress.
The lower city, built by David was large. 

Advat, far to the south, was a highly prosperous city due to the spice traders that traveled through it on their way to Gaza, a port city on the Mediterranean.
Strong towers and arches from the Byzantine era dominate the city, which flourished until about 400 AD when shipping and transportation began to develop better ways to move goods.

Ian makes like a Nabatean Spice Trader

Joe, Daniel, Kevin and Daniel commandeer the high points.

On our way South to Eilat, we stopped in the Wilderness of Paran to meditate on Deut 8. It was a powerful time of prayer and contemplation on what the wilderness was really like and how Israel might be looking forward to a land of "milk and honey...." (Dt 8:7-10). Take a look at Dt 8 and keep this scenery in mind as you read it. Think of what the Jews must have been thinking when they heard of the abundance of the Promised Land compared to how they lived in the wilderness for so long. Think of how barren your life was before knowing Christ. Even with the blessing of knowing Christ, think of how heaven will will make whatever we are experiencing now seem like the wilderness. "For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land..."

That's Brian in the lower right.

We arrived in Eilat, on the northern end of the Red Sea, late in the evening. Eilat is a bustling port/resort city with the border to Egypt one mile to the south, Saudi Arabia directly to the East and Jordan directly to the northeast. We checked into our rooms and prepared for the next day. 

The Red Sea and the mountains of Saudi Arabia. Jordan is just to the left and across the sea.

The city is large and active at night

Day 13

The next morning, we visited Coral Beach and took a swim in the Red Sea. Here are some shots from around the beach.

On our way north, we visited a full sized model of the Tabernacle. It was far too crowded to get any decent pictures. I hope to do a Sunday School lesson on it sometime soon after I get back.

We also stopped at a site known as Solomon's Pillars composed of wind blown and eroded rock formations. There was a copper mining operation there, including a furnace to heat the ore and refine it into pure copper. When mixed with tin, copper produces bronze. With the dawn of the Bronze Age, operations like this in regions like this became very valuable assets and were frequently fought over.  

Furnace for refining ore

We spent the night on the shores of the Dead Sea in one of the nicer hotels of the trip, so far. 

The Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. It receives water from the Jordan River and its tributaries but has no outlet. Situated at the very base of a long range of limestone mountains, it is rich in minerals and salts. The water is totally unsuitable for drinking and has a vaguely sulfuric odor. Because of the high mineral content, it is extremely buoyant. 

Mining for minerals in the Dead Sea is a huge industry. However, the sea level has been falling for quite some time. Israel and Jordan use the Jordan river as one of their primary water sources. The water level is alarmingly low and adjoining nations have been trying to work out a plan to sustain the Dead Sea.  

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