Posted by: griswoldfun | April 1, 2012

Israel: Day 6

Day 6 (March 13th):  Day 6 also happened to be my birthday. One of our buddies from breakfast that morning let our guide know and I was seranaded with “Happy Birthday” in both English and Hebrew. It was fun!

Our first stop of the day was at Masada which is a mesa where Herod the Great built two palaces and built an impressive water system to bring water up to the top.

In AD 66 a group of zealots took control of Masada and hid from Roman rule. In AD 73 the Romans completed a ramp up to the top to take control of the zealots and place them into slavery, but the zealots committed a mass suicide to avoid slavery.  This is what remains of the ramp that was built:

Masada is not mentioned in the bible by name but many scholars believe this was David’s hiding place when he fled from Saul wand where he wrote some of his Psalms (depicting God as his fortress and rock of refuge in Psalm 18:2, 18:31, 71:3 and 144:2)

Very beautiful and impressive views!

Next, we visited the Qumran caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

This picture is an attempt to capture “Cave 4” which is considered the most significant of the caves as 15,000 fragments from over 200 books were found here. Of note, in the 11 caves, every Old Testament book is represented except Esther (and no New Testament books have been found).

After lunch we had an unscheduled stop at a gas station / rest stop for a 3 dollar camel ride!

One of the most unique birthday gifts I have ever received! We were told that a three dollar camel ride will satisfy us for life 🙂

We then traveled along the Wadi Kelt (wadis are valleys) which travels from west to east and drains part of the northern Judean desert. Along it (in the gorge) runs the main route from Jericho to Jerusalem, referred to as the Jericho road (Luke 10: 34-35  – the story of the good Samaritan).

In the gorge of the Wadi Kelt is the monestary of St. George which is a Greek orthodox monastery built in 5th century AD. The original monastery was destroyed and then rebuilt in the crusader period, and was then again restored in 1901.

It was amazing to travel in a desolate area and then turn the corner and see the monastery and green oasis.

Following that we went to Genesis Land, the “traditional” place where Abraham and Lot split their ways. We enjoyed a nice early dinner in a tent with beautiful view (and we all “dressed” up in robes).

It got a little exciting when it was time to leave and the bus wouldn’t start!  All the guys joined forces (and muscle) to give the bus a big push to get it started.

We then made our way through Jerusalem over to Bethlehem where we were able to check out a local store with lots of olive wood and locally made jewelry. Not Mr. G’s  favorite,  but I sure had fun shopping for a nativity to bring home!

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