Floating in the Dead Sea is a very unique experience. Don’t get it in your eyes! Very salty, but good for your skin. We stopped at En Gedi Nature Reserve on the to Masada and then an En Gedi Spa, where we ate lunch (starving & exhausted after Masada). Instead of staying at the spa we drove on down to the public beach to take a float.
Kay floating in the Dead Sea
Neal & Kay, Dead Sea at En Gedi
En Gedi Nature Reserve
En Gedi Nature Reserve
Dead Sea at En Gedi
En Gedi Spa
Spa at En Gedi
Beach at En Gedi
Entrance to En Gedi Nature Reserve
We weren’t even tempted to stop for a ride. We also saw one roaming around in the valley.
Like the entire state of Israel and God’s chosen people, Masada embodies the spirit and tenacity of of His people. I had the mistaken idea that after we took the cable car to the top, we would see a few caves where the Jewish rebels hid from the Romans. Of course, it was nothing like that. King Herod had built it as a fortress and winter palace, which included the large Western Palace, the Northern Palace, three small guest palaces, storage rooms, bathhouses, cisterns, living quarters. Some Jewish rebels called Sicarii (sica, meaning curved dagger) conquered Masada around 66 AD. The last of the rebels fled to Masada after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. and joined those under the command of Eleazar Ben Yair. They added a synagogue and mikvehs (Jewish ritual baths). It took Flavius Silva commander of the 10 Legion (of 8,000 troops) months to conquer, after building eight camps, a siege wall and a ramp. (73 or 74 AD) When they finally managed to reach the top after numerous battles, they found nothing but dead people, who chose to take their own lives rather than surrender and become Roman slaves. According to Josephus, two women and five children were found alive, hiding in cisterns.
This was the most physically difficult day we had. Not only was it very hot, but all the climbing up and down was a strain on our knees, feet and back. Actually, I would say none of their “tourist sites” are for sissies. I thought this would take us 30 or 45 minutes. We were there 2 1/2 or 3 hours and could have stayed longer if we hadn’t been so worn out. You’ll see I had a hat and long sleeves on (to protect from the sun) and very thankful to have my sturdy (not cute shoes on). I did see a lot of gals in short shorts and flip flops. I suspect they didn’t stay long or explore much of the area. If so, they were much tougher than me. My knees will either be tough as stone (like everything here) when I get back, or I will need two knee replacements:)
Here are more pictures of Monday’s trip around the Galilee.
Statue of Peter
Ruins of what they think was Peter’s house.
A little ways from Capernaum is a placed called Ginosar, where there is a museum with a 2000 year old boat discovered in recent times when the water level in the Sea was very low. Of course Neal loves antiques, so we had to stop and see it & also met some friendly like-minded people there!
Museum at Ginosar
2000 year old boat
This shows the 11 different kinds of wood the boat is made from.
After we made it around the Galilee, we stopped at a baptismal site on the Jordan River. Our friend from Australia, Rory, wanted to baptize himself in the Jordan, so setting aside the normal tourist protocol, he did it the way he wanted and had a wonderful experience.
Traditional baptism service
Rory, baptizing himself.
Beautiful Jordan River
The next stop yesterday was a kibbutz on the Galilee, called Ein Gev, where Rory, our friend from Australia had worked 10 years ago. The changes since then were amazing to see. We saw the crops, livestock, restaurant & gift shop, a shop to buy skin products made from olive seeds and oil, a harbor where they give boat tours. (not running when we were there or we would have taken one.) We did buy some of the skin products and olive oil.
Restaurant at Ein Gev
View of Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee from harbor at Ein Gev
Harbor at Ein Gev
Fruit stand at Ein Gev
The most cattle we’ve seen in Israel.
Cattle at Ein Gev
The most amazing experience we had yesterday was to see the beginnings of a new “settlement” in the Shomron. (Samaria), which is legally and biblically part of Israel. We drove miles and miles through barren hills before we started to see the desert blooming here and there with trees, grapevines, greenhouses and fields. We went up one hill to see the beginnings of a new settlement. There was a little coffee shop/restaurant, where we stopped for some coffee. I was shocked to see something like that in the settlement, considering what else we saw. People were working with straw and mud to build houses and that was pretty much all that was there. No hardware stores or lumber yards to run get supplies. Just very hard-working courageous people fulfilling prophecy and being part of history as God’s chose people continue to return to the land and build and plant and see the desert bloom.
By the way, the village where we are staying (Nevey Menachem) and the other hills of Karnei Shomron started in much the same way and they are just beautiful. You would think you were in Hawaii. I’m quite sure in 5-10 years, This place will look just as beautiful.
Back patio at Cafe
Our 3 guys at the cafe
Neal, enjoying the view
The first house built at the settlement.
First house. Made from mud.
Side view of first house.
Walls, made of mud & straw.
Other houses at settlement.
House under construction.
Making the straw/mud walls. (A lady inside the wall, stomping down the mixture.)
Phone booth at settlement.
Today was another adventure driving to the coast, exploring the Roman Aquaduct, Ampitheatre, Bathhouse Complex, Hippodrome, etc, and on to Haifa, Mt. Carmel, on to Nazareth and down thru the Jezreel Valley (Armageddon).
Neal & Rory at the Mediterranean
Rory on top of Roman Aqueduct
Bottom of Roman Aqueduct
We are staying in Beyt Yosef (House of Joseph) in Neveh Menacham, one of the hills of Karnei Shomron (in Samaria). It is a guest house with several bedrooms and three kitchens for guests. (2 kosher and one not kosher). The view of the outlying hills is beautiful and the house is surrounded with all kinds of fruit trees and vines, etrog, mango, passion fruit, pomegranate, figs, grapes, banana, and lemon. Every village (sort of suburb) in Karnei Shomron is very neat, clean, well done with blooming trees, flowers and bushes everywhere. I will have to take some more pictures and edit this posting so you can see. We were only here in Shomron (Samaria) a day or two before we could easily see from a distance (as well as driving thru) which villages are Arab and which ones are Jewish. The Jewish ones are neat, orderly, clean and beautiful. The Arab villages are nothing like that and when you drive through them, they are full of trash and junk everywhere.
Beyt Josef guest house.
View of guest house from the side.
View from the balcony.
Another view from the balcony.
Banana plant behind grape vines.
Bougainvillea everywhere. This one just getting started. Geraniums are 2-3 feet high.
Bloom on the banana plant.
Etrog, which should be ripe in time for Festival of Sukkot.
Ripening olives in the back yard. Olive trees are everywhere.
Irak Burim where they think the altar of Baal was torn down by Gideon.
On Thursday evening, we went back to the hills of Gerazim and listened to a Hebrew speaking archaeologist (later interpreted by an English-speaking guide) explain to a small group that the hill on which we were standing was where Gideon, from the tribe of Manasseh lived. A little while into the lecture, an IDF soldier from a base nearby came over and told him we were not allowed to be there. They had gotten permission from a higher authority, but apparently, the soldiers who were there hadn’t been informed. So we all got in our cars and traveled up another road on the same hill. From there we could see across the valley to another hill called Irak Burin, which they believe Gideon and 10 men went during the night to take down the altar of Baal. (Read the story in Judges 6) So amazing to be standing on the same places we read about in the Bible. In fact, Mt. Gerazim was in today’s Torah portion!!!
Irak Burin, the hill where they believe Gideon and 10 men took down the altar of Baal during the night.
One of the hills of Gerazim where Gideon and the tribe of Manasseh lived.
Irak Burin, not a great picture, but a little more detail.