Saturday, January 15, 2011

On the Sabbath in Judea

We started out today at the Mt. of Olives in order to see the dramatic view of the entire city before the rain. I can understand Jesus' anger at the merchants in the Temple because there were enough intrusive street vendors to spoil the inspiration this wonderful sight

The rest of the day we spent in the environs of the Dead Sea about an hour away. We visited the Qumran community where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered overhead in the cliff caves. In addition to Bible texts there were also 500 Temple scrolls discovered there. We visited the only natural oasis on the west side of the Dead Sea--the springs of En-Gedi and saw the Hyrax (rock badgers) and Ibex (mountain goats) for which the springs are named. It was here that David hid in the cave from King Saul. We visited the Ahava factory where the Dead Sea beauty and skin care products are manufactured. (How much would I need to erase 20 years of wrinkles?) The cable car ride was dramatic to the top of the Masada fortress where the last 936 Jews of the 66-73 AD rebellion against the Romans committed suicide. Our Jewish guide, Isaac, said in the psyche of all Jews, "There must never be another Masada."

We ended the day at the lowest spot on the face of the earth at 1300 feet below sea level. Floating on the Dead Sea is easy because of its 50-70% mineral content, but you don't need sunscreen because the atmosphere is so dense UV rays don't reach the water's surface.

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