Happy Valentine's Day! There is not much proof of valentines day here but someone on our bus made cards for everyone and handed out M&Ms so that was fun!
What an amazing day we have had today! The weather cleared and we had a gorgeous day down at rhe lowest place in the world: The Judean Desert and the Dead Sea. Just 20 minutes from the city of Jerusalem you drop 3300 feet down to the Jordan Rift Valley. Here we saw the desert fortress of Masada, the spring of En Gedi, the community of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, we floated in the Dead Sea and finished the amazing day in the oldest city in the world, Jericho.
Masada was our first stop, an amazing fortress built by Herod on top of a huge mountain. Going up by cable car you can see for miles around you. On top of the mountain was where the Jewish Revolt ended in 73 CE. Here almost one thousand Jewish Rebels killed their families and themselves rather than being enslaved by the Romans. You can still see the siege ramp built by the Romans up to the fortress today.
We continued on to the Spring of En Gedi where David hid from Saul and cut off the hem of his robe in a cave. Over at my Facebook page you can see some cool pictures of caves. It is so cool to visualize these stories we know so well in the actual places where they took place.
Next is one of my favorite spots, the site of Qumran. The site is where the Essene community during the time of Jesus lived. Their calling was to copy manuscripts of scripture and other important writings. The most significant archaeological discovery in Israel took place here in1947 by discovering the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Scrolls confirmed the authenticity and integrity of the biblical translations we have today. Very significant stuff.
Next was the memorable 'swimming' in the Dead Sea. It is more like floating and is an incredible sensation. The mud in the sea is so mineral rich that it is great on your skin. We had a ton of fun floating in it and covering ourselves in mud!
After swimming we swung by the city of Jerixho, an oasis in the desert. We saw the spring of Elisha and the ancient city of Jericho as well as the modernization one.
It was great to have a better day weather wise and we are hoping for continued good weather tomorrow as we visit the mount of olives, southern wall, mount Zion and Bethlehem.