Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Day 8 Wednesday: Fleeing, Fighting, and Floating

Today was a short day to give everyone a chance to enjoy and be pampered half way through our journey.  But a short day does not mean an insignificant day.  In fact, it was extremely meaningful for us.

Fleeing:  We started by traveling a short distance north to an oasis by the name of En Gedi.  It was in this area where David hid in a cave while fleeing from King Saul.  1 Samuel 24 tells us while Saul relieved himself at the front of the cave, David and his men were hiding in the back of the cave.  David cut off the corner of the King's robe to prove that he could have killed him but didn't.  What an amazing amount of running water here in the desert.  David probably used this as a place to feed the sheep he kept for his father when he was younger.  This oasis is by the Dead Sea.  The sea is so salty nothing can grow or live in it.  But a prophecy in Ezekiel 47 says that one day a river will flow from the Temple in Jerusalem in such quantity that it will turn all the Dead Sea into a living sea of fresh water.  The same kinds of fish that live in the Mediterranean Sea will inhabit this revived sea.  And En Gedi will become a fishing village at that time.  How just like our Father to take something dead and make it alive again!

Fighting:  We turned back south and stopped at the mountain fortress of Masada.  King Herod built an opulent palace and living compound here in the desert on a plateau that rises almost 1300 feet high on the east side.  Its purpose was probably to administrate the perfume trade route that went from Yemen to the sea port of Gaza.  In 66 A.D. or so, Jewish rebels came here from Jerusalem to find a final stronghold to resist the Romans.  After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., more people joined them until over 900 people inhabited the mountain.  In 73 A.D. the Romans laid siege to Masada to stop the rebellion.  Once a ramp was finished and it was clear there would be a conclusion in the morning, the rebels did the unthinkable.  Choosing to die with dignity rather than have their women and children abused and them serve as slaves, each man killed his own family and then they drew lots such that they killed each other until a lone survivor committed suicide.  Two old women and a few children hid to escape death and were the ones to tell the story.  To see such insight into water collection and use in the desert was stunning.  Large cisterns (one of which could hold almost 3/4 of a million gallons or more) provided water for a bath house, large swimming pool, and other excesses.

Floating: We returned to the hotel shortly after noon. Our afternoon was filled with floating in the Dead Sea or in the warm Dead Sea spa in our hotel; pampering with massages and pedicures; and rest.  Tomorrow we head for the Holy City of Jerusalem.

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