This morning we headed south into the desert area of Israel. I wish I could tell you how cool the view was on the way down but I was so nauseous that I couldn't watch. I was really disappointed that I wasn't feeling well but didn't lat that stop me from seeing the sites. I did get to see the site as we drove by Qumran and saw some of the caves that the dead sea scrolls were found in. That was pretty cool.
We made our way to Masada and watched a short movie on the history of Masada. Herod built the city on top of a lone plateau and had another castle on top of it. The great thing about the desert is that quite a bit of the site was not disturbed because there is no more than 8in or rain there a year. (Needless to say, it was hot up there!) After Herod, the city was used as a last stand by the Jewish Zealots trying to hide from Roman rule after the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Herodian Temple. It was said by Josephus that the zealots were so much against being slaves to the Romans that the father or eldest son took the lives of the women and children and then the "drew stones" in order to see who would be the last one remaining to kill himself (it is against the Jewish religion at that time to kill oneself).
We went to the top by cable car and could see the camps that the Romans set up to wait out the Jews who would probably run out of water. Eventually the Romans decided to build a ramp up the side of the plateau in order to bring up equipment to destroy the door and force the Jews out (it is still there!). That was when they killed one another. There are no remains of human bodies that would show that the 900-some Jews had done this. There were 28 remains of people who looked as though they had been buried ceremoniously. However, absence of proof does not always mean proof of absence as Mike told us.
From the top we also had a great view of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth! That was where we were headed next after a short stop to shop. We went next to Ehn Gedi, an artificial oasis built near the Dead Sea (the shoreline for the Dead Sea has been decreasing every year, originally it was on the beach but it is now about a half a mile from the beach). The place was a spa where you could get massages and the like. If we would have had more time that would have been awesome! But we didn't so we did what most people do, we went first to the fresh pool to cool off, then headed over to the mud station.
The mud from around the Dead Sea has minerals in it that will exfoliate the skin and leave if feeling fresh and clean. So we covered ourselves in mud, then waited for it to dry. Then we went and washed our arms and legs off in the sulfur shower. The we washed our faces and the rest in the fresh water shower. Then we took the "train" to the beach. We were told to back into the water slowly and then sit down almost and just let our feet drift out from under us.
I couldn't believe the sensation of floating in the Dead Sea! It was effortless! It was actually more difficult to stand up because we had to roll onto our sides and then attempt to put our feet down… it took a few times to actually do it! We could feel the salt on our skin. It was totally cool! Words cannot describe it any better than that!
After the Dead Sea we had to head back to the hotel to finish our packing and head out to dinner. We went to this place called "Mom's" according to Mike. The Hebrew was Alef, Mem, Alef which would sound similar to "Ae-m-ae" but whatever! The food was good, we had pita bread with lots of different toppings, some veggies stuffed with rice, and then we had chicken and beef skewers with rice. Yum yum! There was dessert but I wasn't hungry anymore! After that we headed out to the airport.
I can't even describe how awesome this trip was for me. I enjoyed it very much. It has definitely opened up my eyes to what I have heard about and read about. I can't wait to sit in church and listen to the stories from the Bible and be able to say "I have been there!" I hope that everyone had enjoyed my blog. I am sorry it took me so long to get the last few entries in there. I want to say thank you to Jessica, Rabbi Green, and Gene for making this trip possible. I enjoyed it very much.
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God Bless You, Mandy