Four Days Down South

11 Nov

I just got back from a four-day trip to the deep south. No, I don’t mean Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Texas. I mean the Negev, the southern region of Israel. The biblical Negev specifically refers to an hour glass-shaped region between the city of Arad and the Brook Besor. In the middle of the Negev region sits Beersheva, an important biblical site. All three of the Patriarchs came to Beersheva: Abraham dug a well here, as well as Isaac (who came here from Gerar in Genesis 26:23). Jacob left from here to go to Padan Aram, and then stopped by some time later on his way to Egypt. Beersheva was also an important administrative city during the reign of King David.

The modern term Negev, however, does not just mean the region I specified above. Negev today means all of southern Israel. Included in the broader Negev region would be such sites as Elat on the Red Sea (I snorkeled there) and Kadesh-barnea, from where Moses sent out 12 spies to examine the Promised Land.

A little bit to the north, near the bottom of the Dead Sea, is the ancient fortress Masada. It is a large fortress compound that saw its greatest days during the time of Herod the Great. He made it a “Rome away from Rome,” complete with imported foods, bathhouses, and multiple palaces. Jewish rebels took it over during the 1st Jewish Revolt, and only after building a massive siege ramp were the Romans able to capture the hilltop fortress. I personally ran up the winding path that leads to the top, and let me assure you that it would have been absolutely brutal to attack Masada with people throwing stones and shooting arrows at you. Sadly, about 960 Jewish people who were living in the fortress committed suicide rather than be captured by the Roman forces.

A little bit farther north, near the top of the Dead Sea, I visited the site of Qumran. This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. These scrolls, written between 200 BC and 68 AD, testify to the amazing way that the Lord has preserved His Word. When discovered and translated, the text of these scrolls matched extremely closely with existing translations from 1000 AD! The highlight of Qumran was standing in Cave 1 where the complete Isaiah scroll was discovered!

This was my last major trip while in Israel. The next time you hear from me, probably about mid-December, I will have just gotten back to the States. Shortly after that I will be back in California studying at my Christian college. Time flies so quickly…


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