We started our day very early to avoid the worst heat on the top of Masada. We left Jerusalem at 7 am and drove east through the West Bank passing several settlements that in the most recent agreement are considered part of Israel. A great surprise awaited the kids when we reached the sign indicating that we were at sea level. We took the off ramp built specifically for Suchi the camel, which is where the sign for being at sea level was,because we would be going below sea level. The Bedouin owner and his son have a great business going. Zvi explained that the West Bank Bedouin are not Israeli citizens, but those that live in Israel proper are citizens. As trackers, they are valuable members of the IDF.
We turned south and drove along the Dead Sea. We passed the site believed to be the ancient city of Jericho, however, the walls of Jericho have not been discovered, so the exact location is anybody’s guess. Unfortunately, it is not safe for Israelis to go to Jericho or Bethlehem, but many Christian tourists can visit these cities.
It was very hazy over the Dead Sea. The surface is 1300 feet below sea level, and it’s deepest level is 2400 feet below sea level. It is the remnants of an inland sea, and has been receding at a rate of 1 meter per year, since the dam was built diverting the water from the Kinneret. This sea lies on a tectonic rift, the Syrian African rift which runs from Turkey to Mozambic. The eastern tectonic plate is moving at a rate of 1 cm per year. These plates have moved 100 km since recorded history.
The multimillion dollar industry, the Dead Sea Works, extracts salts and metals from the southern end of the Dead Sea including salt, pot ash, Magnesium for VW cars, and many other elements with medicinal properties. Modern medicine uses Dead Sea treatments for patients with psoriasis and arthritis. AHAVA is a company formed by four kibbutz that market skin care products made with Dead Sea minerals.
We drove past the caves where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered by a Bedouin shepherd, on November 29 th 1947. ultimately scrolls were found in 11 caves.
One of the First scrolls discovered contained the entire book of Isaiah, but mostly only fragments were found. A total of 40,000 fragments were found.
The 3 most important reflections on the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls are
1. Bible hot off the press, it is the Oldest bible. 2200 yr old full text, every book except Esther.
2. Essene society detailed. We are all descendants of the Pharisees.
Essenes are the 3rd branch of ancient Judaism. They went into the desert, rejected main stream Judaism, practiced celibacy, believed in predestination, used a solar calendar.
3. Christianity develops out of this time, John the Baptist was an Essenes.
Masada @ 110 degrees,
It was built by Herod the Great as a winter palace getaway, although it is unclear if he ever visited it. Had enough water stored in cisterns to last 4 years. Occupied by Jewish fringe radicals in 66 AD before the destruction of the temple by the Romans. They grew food, including date trees. Amazingly, scientists were able to grow a date tree from a 2000 yr old pit found at Masada. This tree is now 5 yrs old.
Masada Myths. They were heroes? They were terrorists, they were zealots?
ATJ=”According to Josephus,” who wrote down the only account of the events at Masada, 10 yrs afterwards and never came himself.
Dead Sea…..warm mineral bath and mud …free floating…no worries…relaxed and happy
Respectfully submitted by Susan Benfield and Nancy Rosen