We set out from Jerusalem nice and early this morning only to be held up by traffic on the motorway out of town for nearly an hour & a half. The problem was another suspicious package left on the side of the road a long way from where we were but all the roads had to be closed which caused a grid lock. When the traffic did start to move it only took minutes to clear, which made me think that Auckland roads must have a design problem.
Our first stop was the Qumrun site of the dead sea scrolls and the essecenes, a community who set themselves apart to seek truth and God away from the religion of Jerusalem in the En Gedi area. Very interesting place and community they were. The dead sea scrolls consisted of copies of most of the books of the bible plus teaching from the Essecenes. In some of the footnotes in the New Living translation of the bible I like to use it quotes the dead sea scrolls as a reference.
Our next stop was EN Gedi the place in the desert where David and his men hid in the caves of Adulum from King Saul. Its a beautiful place with fresh flowing streams coming out of the caves and hills around. The area teams with wild life including the IBEX and the Coney or rock badger seen every where around En Gedi. At night there are lots of other Animals like foxes & wolves. En Gedi is mentioned often in the bible and is a place in the desert I really love.
Next stop was the Aharva factory where they make Dead Sea cosmetics.. interesting place and of course lots to buy for some. From the Aharva shop we went to Masada the mountain fortress build by King Herod and taken over by the Zelots who fled Jerusalem in 70AD after Jerusalem was ransacked by the Romans. They managed to hold Masada for nearly three years in defiance of the ROman oppresors. The ROmans through an amazing engerneering feat built a ramp up the side of the fortress and overcame the Jewish Zelots. The Modern day Israeli defence forces take their people up there when they graduate and they say Masada shall never fall again.
All our activities today were along the shores of the dead sea in the Arava Desert areas of the Negev. Tonight we are staying in a Kibbutz in Hatzeva an Agricultural community making the desert bloom and produce amazing crops of almost everything that men grow. Its a nice place a little rustic but really comfortable and friendly.