Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More Judean Desert

At the top of Masada.  The Dead Sea is about 1300 feet BELOW sea level, so at the top of Masada we are just about at sea level!  No altitude sickness here!

Once a spectacular palatial fortress of King Herod.

Square drawn in the desert was once a Roman camp coming against the last Jewish fortress.

The Romans toiled in the scorching desert to build a ramp to the top.  900+ Jewish rebels lived here during the Roman conquest.

This is the Jewish Israeli Alamo - the Last Stand.  The inhabitants died "free" before the Romans entered the city.  The throats of all were slit by families and the last men remaining, alive by drawn lots, had to fall upon their own swords.  The Romans walked into a deathly quiet fortress and were denied the thrill of victory.

Descending by tram.

A South African man requested to be baptized in the Jordan River at Kasr El Yahud, the Fortress of the Jews.  The place where the Israelites are believed to have crossed the Jordan, where Elijah ascended, where John the Baptist baptized in the desert.  I'm sure you noticed the muddy color of the water.  Two days before the desert roads were impassable due to heavy rains and flash floods.  It hadn't rained for months on end, and the blessing of rain came with us.
My own Lydia's first public confession of faith and baptism, and in the Jordan where the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus as a dove.  She was looking forward to this day.
Qumram in the late afternoon sun.

A Bedouin shepherd boy was throwing rocks in the caves, looking for his sheep.  He heard the sound of shattering pottery when he threw his rocks in the cave above.  He found seven ancient pots upon returning with his family to investigate.  They took the pots to an antique dealer to see if they were valuable and sold them for a moderate sum.  The real treasure was within.  The Dead Sea Scrolls - early complete manuscripts of the Scriptures.

The scrolls were originally attributed to the Essene community that lived here in Qumran, but as thousands of parchments and texts were discovered throughout the Qumran caves while the Bedouins hunted for this hidden treasure in the 1940s-50s, it has become recognized that these are the sacred writings and scrolls of the Jerusalem Jewish scribes, carefully hidden before the complete conquest and fall of Jerusalem.

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