Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday, April 7

My last blog post mistakenly indicated April 7. It was really describing what we saw on Sunday, April 6. Now for today, April 7. Our day began with a visit to Bethlehem. Because this area is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, our Jewish guide was not allowed to join us. As in so many respects, I have noticed many changes in Israel since my last visit. The political realities we experienced today are another example of those changes. It is sad and discouraging. Enough said. None of us are the type who are into ritualism, pilgrim type of touring, so our visit to Manger Square was, --- well, we have now seen it! After a few other stops in the Bethlehem area including a shop where olive wood items are made and sold, we safely passed through the check points, were reunited with our guide and made our way down from Jerusalem to Masada.

What a place Masada is. To Israelis it has almost a sacred flavor. Virtually all Israeli soldiers are inducted there to this day. Masada is the place where in about 73AD, 965 Jews sought refuge from Roman legions. After 3 years when it was apparent they were no match for 15,000 soldiers, these brave Jews elected to end their lives rather than submit to slavery and other untold horrors.

The scene above is from Masada looking east toward Jordan. The Dead Sea is in the foreground.

One other site that we saw today is Qumran. In 1947, a bedouin shepherd boy inadvertently stumbled upon the find of the century. Over time, virtually every book of the Old Testament and hundreds of other important documents were discovered in a Qumran cave hidden away in clay jars. The fact that these Scriptures, about 1000 years farther back in time than any other Scripture texts previously known, differed so very slightly, shows the incredible and surely divine hand of preservation of our Scriptures.

Before heading back to our hotel for dinner and rest, we stopped by the Dead Sea. Here all tourists enjoy the unique experience of floating in this chemically rich body of water. It is also the source of mud baths which some believe help a person reverse the aging process. Apparently my brother and sister believe there may be something to this.

Time for sleep!


Greg & Tanya said...

Enjoying the blog Uncle Rick! Really appreciate reading the history and significance of everything you are visiting. I'm following along as well (though it seems to be a slightly different order) with the papers my mom gave us.... and reseaching on the net. maybe next trip we'll come? :) greg

info said...

Us here at home seem to be learning alot too! Great pics, can't wait to see the rest. Always thinking about you guys, Cynthia