Two Sites of the Dead Sea

Good morning from Jerusalem. It is Shabbat, and everything is shut down. It’s very peaceful. Maria and I will be heading to a Messianic synagogue in a little while, but I wanted to keep this journal going.

Yesterday Maria and I got started a little later than normal. We were enjoying taking our time. I think I mentioned this, but we originally intended to visit Jericho and the Mount of Temptation. We asked an IDF soldier at one of the checkpoints if it was safe and he said it wasn’t a good idea. So that gave us a bit more time to view the sites in the Dead Sea region. Good thing, because we tend to take twice as long as most people.

If you are ever staying in the Dead Sea region, looking for an alternative from the expensive hotels, Masada Guest House is an awesome place to stay. It’s located at the foot of Masada, and our room had a view of the Northern Palace.

So we headed first to Ein Gedi. Wadi David and the Ancient Synagogue are there. We visited the synagogue before the wadi, knowing we would end up quite wet.

They unearthed a synagogue in it’s entirety. Well, almost. As with most ruins, there isn’t a roof and most walls are are chest high or less. But I was amazed that most of the mosaic flooring is still in tact. In fact, I was a bit shocked that we were able to walk on a portion of it. They have a large tent structure protecting it from the sun.

When we arrived, there was a group of students with their teacher. They were just finishing up, so we weren’t able to benefit from his knowledge. But that was okay. There were some signs telling us what we were looking at.

We entered the area through an ancient street that runs along the synagogue. There were also several houses unearthed, as well as mikvahs. This synagogue had two floors and the only remant of the second floor was a few stairs.

There is a long hall for an entrance with a wash basin at the far end. Two columns led to the prayer room, with it’s mosaic floor, the bemah, the ark, and the seat of Moses (where the leader of the congration would sit.) The mosaic floor was amazing. In the center was a square containing birds, as well as a two squares set of center from each other. Maria, curious about why the ark didn’t face Jerusalem, discovered that the points of the squares faced true north, south, east and west. Amazing, no?

We spent a little time in thought and prayer. I was trying to be mindful of time because we had to be back in Jerusalem by 6pm for Shabbat dinner at the hostel. Most of our trip thus far, time has only been a factor when the place we are in is closing.

Our next stop was the wadi. We climbed rock steps and saw smatll waterfalls along the way. At the first one, Maria stood under the falls. She was amazed at how powerful it was.

Higher and higher we climbed, through trickling water where we stopped to splash ourselves for relief from the heat of the day. When we finally reached David’s fall, Maria once more went under the fall. This one was larger and even more powerful. I went to it, but my clothes would end up too heavy to descend, so simply puts my arms under.

After descending, we stopped to see some trees that were there. They had very large thorns. These are acacia trees, the wood used to make the ark and many items for the mishkan (tabernacle) in the widerness. Though experts say a different tree of thorns was used for Messiahs crown, Maria thinks they are wrong, saying it makes more sense that the same wood used for the ark would be used for Messiah.

After a late lunch, we headed back to Jerusalem, fully satisfied with all that we saw and learned. And even as we passed the turn for Jericho, I didn’t have the feeling that something was missing. We saw and experienced exactly what our Abba wanted us to see and experience.

I missed a turn in Jerusalem, so ended up seeing more of the residential area. Everything was already shut down, with a few stragglers heading home. I’m glad we missed the turn. And we still arrived at the hostel by 5. God is so good. We are so blessed.

May your day be blessed with the might presence of God. Shabbat Shalom!

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