Wednesday, June 23, 2010

06/13/10 - Day 5 Headed to Tiberius

Today we left Jerusalem and headed to Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. We quickly left the city and the trees, flowers and other vegetation. Outside the city just a few miles is nothing but desert. Only rocks, dirt, barrenness, heat, and hills. We passed several settlements of the Bedouin people. They live here in the most primitive and simple way, but having to have their water trucked in to them. They raise sheep and goats and I don't know what these animals could possibly find to eat here.

Our first stop is Masada on the Dead Sea. It is on the top of a high mountain and was a fortress/palace built by Herod the Great between 31 -37 BC. You can walk to the top but we rode in the cable car.

It was a VERY hot place. I think it was 110 degrees this day.

We saw all the remains of this fortress/palace, including Herod's store rooms for thousands of pounds of food, bath houses, cisterns, and even his bedroom.

The view from the top.

Masada was also the place where in 66 AD a group of about 1000 Jewish people moved here from Jerusalem to escape the Romans. After living here for about 3 years, the Roman army set up camp - about 10,000 of them (5,000 soldiers and 5,000 slaves). You can still see the place of the Roman army camp and the ramp they built to go over the walls of Masada. When the Jewish group realized they were going to be attacked all but 2 women committed mass suicide.

Next on to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves in 1947. Over 700 manuscripts, including many copies of the Psalms and Isaiah, were found in 11 caves. This is one of those caves.

This area of Israel really sheds a new light on scripture references to a "dry and weary" land.

"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you;my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1

But in this desert we passed fields of beautiful, green, irrigated vineyards, date, olive, apple, avocado, almond, and banana trees, fields of sunflowers, corn, and watermelons, and greenhouses full of tomatoes and pepper plants.

Our first look at the Dead Sea, 1300 feet below sea level.

And we got to swim in it....or should I say float. The salt content is so high (about 30 -35% verses 2 -3% in the Gulf of Mexico) that you can't keep from floating. It was fun to just lay back and float with no effort at all. The bottom is thick mud and some say its minerals are very healing to your skin.

So everyone rubbed mud all over them. I got a tiny bit in my eye and my mouth and it burned like fire! I had to run for the fresh water shower to wash off!

We left the Dead Sea area and arrived in Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee. It is a beautiful area, full of flowers and trees and a sense of peace. Here is our view from our hotel room. We loved it here.

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