A Day Outside the City

Trip Start Aug 31, 2010
Trip End Sep 12, 2010

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Flag of Israel  ,
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

We spent most of the day outside of Jerusalem, coming back early since this is the eve of Rosh Hashanah or Jewish New Year. The hotel is filled with people who checked in to celebrate the holiday, while five of our fellow travelers check out tonight to head back to the U.S. since they are not going on to Egypt.  Let's get back to give you a report about today.

We started out this morning by heading over to the Israel Museum, where there are two important things to see. The first is a scale model of the ancient city of Jerusalem from Jesus' time.  This was formerly at the Holy Land Hotel, but was moved here a few years ago due to its significance.  It is a 1 to 50 scale model and gives one an outstanding perspective on the city's layout.

After viewing the model, we moved over to the Shrine of the Book, a section of the museum devoted to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Essene community that had accumulated and copied them.  There were fragments of almost every Old Testament book found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, but there was a complete copy of Isaiah, which is on display (a replica only).

After the museum, we got back on the bus to drive down to Masada, the wilderness fortress built by Herod but made famous by the 960 zealots and refugees who held out against the Romans after Jerusalem was sacked in 70 AD.  You reach the summit by cable car and in grueling heat you listen to stories of how Herod built the fortress, how the Jews occupied it, how the Romans besieged it and finally how important Masada is to modern Jewish life and thinking. The military saying, "Masada will never fall again" indicates that Jews will never again limit their options but will fight to maintain a strong homeland against all enemies.

After the tour, we ate lunch at the Masada visitor center and then moved on to an oasis in the desert by the name of En Gedi.  En Gedi is famous for the account of how David spared Saul's life in a cave as described in 1 Samuel 24. En Gedi has a waterfall, which creates an oasis in the harsh desert.  Some of the team put their feet in the stream but everyone was anxious to return to the shaded area.  It was 105 degrees. As we were pulling out, we saw two male ibex or mountain goats, which are native to the desert area.  How they survive and what they eat are known only to their Creator.

Then it was time for our last bus ride up to Jerusalem.  Tomorrow we have a four-hour drive to Eilat, which is on the Red Sea and the point where we cross into Egypt.  You may not receive another update until Cairo on Friday night, since we get up at 2 AM Friday morning to ride a camel up Mount Sinai to view the sunrise on Moses' mountain. Should be fun, but it won't be easy.  So stay tuned, there is more to come.
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