Today was a great day! We are just struggling with the effects of an 8 hour time difference. We were all up at 2:00am ready to get going and having a hard time sleeping. After Breakfast and a short rest, we went to Masada so we were there when the gate opened at 5:30. You can see pictures at my facebook page for the day!
Masada takes around 1 hour to hike and you go up 350 meters (130 stories!!). There was a large group assembled to enter the park when the gate opened - everyone wants to watch the sunrise as they hike. The goal is to get to the top before the sun emerges from the horizon. We made it in 1 hour, but started too late to be finished before the sun emerged. It was a great experience - both Cassidy and I said it was the best part of the day. Masada is like a mesa, and was fortified in 100BC. A palace was built and the town would be almost impossible to take over because it was so easy to defend. In the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the last stronghold was at Masada. Josephus the historian tells us that 960 Israelites were defending the palace in 73AD after losing the Galilee area and Jerusalem to the Romans. Then the Romans laid siege to Masada. After a couple months they built a ramp up the side and used a battering ram to break down the wall. Before they broke through, the citizens took their own lives instead of living in shame and humiliation as Roman slaves. A very interesting story.
We stopped in at the Dead Sea and spent some time at the beach and then went back to our apartment for lunch (and a nap!). Then came Candace's favourite part of the day - a 1 hour long camel ride in the Negev Desert! We went to the Negev Camel Ranch and enjoyed the peace and tranquility that is on the open desert riding on a camel. We went on sides of the hill with steep embankments, and we knew we could trust the animal that we were riding and the Bedouin guide. We went along the Incense trade route that connected the East to the West. Frankincense and Myrrh from the Orient were brought to the port at gaza and shipped all over Europe. The route was established 2500 years ago - there was a good chance it was the same route that the wisemen journeyed on when they came to see the Christ child!
It was a full day, with a few napping opportunities taken! Since it is Sabbath, no stores are open, so one needed to make sure that there was enough groceries in the apartment. It’s so powerful to see the country shut down for one day a week. I have been reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World by John Mark Comer and he suggests the need for people to shut down more often, take a sabbath and enjoy being slow. For us this trip to Israel has included many times to slow down and take the beauty in. To understand the lifestyle of Jesus so that we can take his yoke - for it is light and easy.