Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Holy Land Day 4

By Guest Contributor: Rahel Tafese

Highlights of the day:
Riding camels in the city of Jericho (mainly around the parking lot); climbing Mount of Temptation towards the Monastery; standing by a 2000yr. old sycamore tree as Julia shared her devotion on Zacchaeus; touring the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Qumran; floating on the Dead Sea, and dancing the night away with some of the Palestinian Women

As we crossed into the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank, we quickly found ourselves in Jericho, the OLDEST inhabited town in the world. The story of Jericho is found in Joshua 6:1-27 as the Israelites marched around the walls once every day for seven days, and on the seventh day, the walls of the city fell.
Before heading up to the Monastery on the Mount of Temptation, we made a brief stop for a camel ride around the parking lot and to browse through the souvenir shops.

A ride on this camel decorated in gorgeous cloaks was only 20 shekels--definitely worth the experience!
Two of our bravest fellows: Will and Dakota enjoying the camel ride

Mount of Temptation
The  Mount of Temptation is mentioned in the three Gospels: Matthew 4: 1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13 where Jesus, after being baptized by John in the Jordan River, is led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil as he spent 40 days and nights fasting. 
Heading up the mountain, Amer explained to us that the monastery was constructed around a chapel that marks the stone where Jesus sat during his fast.

The Monastery located on the Mt. of Temptation
Rahel, Alex, and Jessica overlooking the spectacular view of the Monastery

The earliest monastery was constructed by the Byzantines in the 6th century AD, but this modern monastery where the Orthodox monks currently dwell in was constructed in 1895. It’s such a tranquil place with a spectacular view at the top. While the rest of the fellows decided to trek up a steep path towards the Monastery, Jessica, Alex, and I took the cable car with a breathtaking panoramic view of Jericho, the Jordan Valley, and the Dead Sea. Even the short climb up the stairs to the front gate of the Monastery was a struggle in the midday heat.

View of Alex in the cable car looking stylish

Sycamore Fig Tree of Jericho:
Under this 2000 yr. old fig tree, Julia read from Luke 19:1-10 and shared about Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector, who was too short to see Jesus walking through the crowd and he decided to climb on a sycamore fig tree to getter a better view. (Being on the shorter side myself I can relate to him).
Julia reading scripture under a 2000yr old fig tree
This was a significant site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Nearly 122 biblical scrolls (fragments) were found from 11 Qumran caves, including every Old Testament book except Esther.
For instance, scrolls found in Cave 1 included the Community Rule, War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness, Isaiah and others.
Christina at Qumran
looking great in her WS Fellows shirt

Dead Sea- AKA premier spa experience
I had been looking forward to this moment for months. The Dead Sea, found 1,388ft. below sea level, is Earth’s lowest point on land. Technically it’s not a sea, just a salty lake, where no sea creatures can survive except some single cell bacteria. But it contains significant concentrations of sodium chloride and other mineral salts that work wonders on your skin. I read lots of articles that hailed it for its therapeutic properties.

Pulling out huge clumps of mud, we slathered it onto our skin for no visit to the Dead Sea is complete without the obligatory mud photo.

Group photo: our skin has never felt this moisturized, nourished, and pampered. So thankful for this beautiful oasis in the middle of the wilderness!

Reese and Julia with a big clump of mud.
Check out Alex's perfect face mask.
Julia & Alex casually floating in the Dead Sea.

Director Ned keeping it stylish.
He was convinced that the mud would work miracles on bald spots (not that he has any).

It’s devastating that in a couple hundred years this lake will cease to exist, as its main tributary is the Jordan River. The Dead Sea has been rapidly shrinking in recent decades due to the diversion of incoming water from the Jordan River.

You have a couple of hundred years to make your visit!
Dance Party at the Murad Hotel
It’s amazing how music can cross cultural and language barriers. After dinner we were able to partake in a dance party with some of the Palestinian women staying at the Murad. 
The ladies started out on the dance floor and afterward some of the men were allowed to join in.
Check out the video found on Ned's Facebook page

This was just one of the great adventures we had during our time in Israel. It was an experience unlike any other and we thank you all for your prayers and financial support that made this possible.

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