Tomorrow we will be moving to the Sea of Galilee after spending seven days in the Negev Desert. Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying in the Judean Desert after being baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Tomorrow we will be going to one of the sites that commemorates this baptism. Slowing down and walking in the desert has been a special part of this vacation for me. Next time I should take it a step farther and fast/camp in the desert for 7 days!
The Negev has many amazing sites and we went to a few of them in the last few days. Ein Gedi is by the Dead Sea, and is a beautiful oasis that includes many waterfalls, tunnels through the vegetation, walking right beside a stream, seeing many pools, interesting animals and lots of people. This site was one that King Saul and King David came to for retreat. The main waterfall is called David Falls, a great place to rest and so different from the surrounding desert or Dead Sea! Check out some pictures at my facebook page.
Today we went on a journey further south into the heart of the Negev. En Avdat is a breathtaking canyon that has a spectacular view - its a mini version of the Grand Canyon. We viewed it both from the top and the bottom. Although we could not get as close as I would have liked at the bottom because water flooded the road. Candace and Cassidy thought it would be unwise to try and pass the water with the car. I said that if I went fast enough it would have been no problem. However, they felt the view was good enough where we were!
The parking lot was right beside the tomb for the first Prime Minister of Israel - David Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula. He was a leader in the Jewish community during the British Mandate and was the main founder of the state in 1948. So the people of Israel that are Jews appreciate him greatly. The Arabs and Palestinians are not so fond. Some people call him a land grabber others would say he sought true peace for both the people of Israel and the Palestinians. Just before the Six-Day War which increased the borders of Israel, David Ben-Gurion was quoted as saying “we are interested in peace on the basis of the (1949) status quo, but if the Arabs are interested not in peace but in war - we will fight, and then perhaps there will be a different status quo.” I do not want to go much further into the politics of this land. For some reason, we as Canadians have strongly held views on this without even visiting the area. I can respect the reverence the people of Israel have for their founder.
Another quote of Ben-Gurion that I found quite interesting was this: “The supreme test of Israel in our generation lies, not in its struggle with hostile forces without, but in its success in conquering, through science and pioneering, the wilderness of the country’s south, the Negev.” The famous Ben-Gurion University has one of its campuses a few kilometres from the gravesite. The University was established in 1969, with the aim of promoting and developing the Negev desert (60% of Israel land base). There are 20,000 students at the university!
Now back to our trip! We finally were able to go to Tel Beer Sheva. Yesterday we tried, but they closed earlier then what was posted. Abraham lived here for awhile, Isaac lived most of his life here, and Jacob betrayed his brother Esau right in the town we explored. Some powerful Biblical history happened here. As Jacob made his final trek to Egypt, he stopped at Beersheba and offered sacrifices to God. At night he had a vision and God told Jacob not to be afraid to go to Egypt, for God will make Jacob a great nation there and will surely bring his ancestors back. Finally God told Jacob that Joseph his son will be beside him when he passes away. (Genesis 46)
So much history in this land! From the Old Testament to the 20th history. We saw both today. We also saw beautiful sites created by God to help us remember His handiwork!! May this land have peace. May the people become reconciled to their saviour!
Tomorrow we will be switching from Old Testament history to New Testament history. We will see the area where the Dead Sea Scrolls came from, check out the baptism site of Jesus, and then go to the area where Jesus spent three years in public ministry! We are so excited for the adventure and the journey!