We enjoyed another beautiful sunrise over New Jerusalem while eating breakfast at the Shalom Hotel. We observed the Jewish people around us during breakfast. As one observes the Jewish people in Israel, we share Paul’s burden of loving a people with such a great zeal, yet such stubbornness, unbelief, hardness of heart, and in a lost and unsaved state.
We entered Jerusalem today through the Jaffa Gate, just to browse. We passed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church, as far as the Catholics are concerned, is where Jesus was crucified.
One proprieter in a shop was surprised I had only one wife – he had four wives. Wives are still bought for camels.
We went into a memorial for the Jewish independence in 1948, called the “War of Independence Memorial.” Then we entered the old synagogue of the Jews, the Hurva Synagogue.
Once again we passed the Byzantine Cardo (ancient Roman shop area). Pictures were taken of the folks in our group at this locale. (Pastor Grimes, James Taylor, Dawn Presti, and Jo Anne Abbott). We went back to our hotel early in order to rest, and to pack for our long journey home.
Today, Lord willing, we will proceed over the Israeli/Jordan border, catch our Royal Jordanian flight from Amman, Jordan to New York, and drive home to Stafford, Virginia.
We rode along “the old Roman road” to the border. This was the most beautiful ride of the trip, and naturally, my camera is packed away. We stopped above a Greek Orthodox Church, surrounded by DEEP canyons. Wooden crosses were seen everywhere. There was an aqueduct, and a cement path, and dirt paths. We passed another of Herod’s palaces, his winter palace in Jericho. Our road was narrow as we drove along the canyon called the Wadi Kelt. If we veered off the road just a little bit, we would have plunged to our certain death. We came to Jericho and saw a very rare occurrence indeed – rain! We crossed the Allenby Bridge into Jordan under the usual intense scrutiny. On the flight home, I sat next to a Lebanese American who was a Christian and we had a good conversation. We had a refueling stop once again in Amsterdam, Holland. On our stop in Amsterdam it was dark and stormy. Once above the clouds though, we found daylight. And likewise in our spiritual lives. To the lost, life is dark and stormy and full of uncertainty after death. But once we come to terms with Jesus Christ, we live in the sunshine, above our circumstances, with no fear of death – we even look forward to it. Our journey came to an end. It was like “a little taste of heaven.” Until we really arrive in heaven though, all good things must come to an end.
Shalom, Pastor Steve
Prophecy in the News
Published on Feb 21, 2017
3rd Annual Pikes Peak Prophecy Summit by Prophecy in the News
Jerusalem, a Middle Eastern city west of the Dead Sea, has been a place of pilgrimage and worship for Jews, Christians and Muslims since the biblical era. Its Old City has significant religious sites around the Temple Mount compound, including the Western Wall (sacred to Judaism), the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (a Christian pilgrimage site) and the Dome of the Rock (a 7th-century Islamic shrine with a gold dome).
Jerusalem is a mosaic of different peoples, faiths, and nationalities. Nevertheless, despite this diversity, under the sovereignty of Israel, Jerusalem is a city that works. But has it always been this way?
Watch this fascinating video of the entire history of Jerusalem in just 5 minutes. You will find it simply amazing!
If you are a student at the SouthWest Florida Bible Institute, and interested in taking the following course: “NT701 Two Tremendous Archaeological Discoveries” starting March 20, 2018, then you will want to watch the following cutting edge archaeological findings. Bob Cornuke is interviewed by Dr. Kevin Clarkson, president of Prophecy in the News, about his REVISED and UPDATED book “Temple.” The new book (just released days ago) can be purchased from KHouse and Chuck Missler, from Base Institute and Bob Cornuke, or from Prophecy In The News. The older book Temple is 207 pages. The new book you want to purchase is 239 pages – I received a copy of it today. Bob Cornuke is turning the field of Christian archaeology on its head, as he navigates through the plethora of 2,000 years of errors in tradition, and uses solely the Bible as his roadmap, pursuing the correct places of archaeological importance to the Christian. This book explores a new possible site for the temple, and Jesus’ exact place of crucifixion. If the location is correct, then the famed Islamic Dome of the Rock would not be in the way of building the temple! Bob Cornuke is highly respected in circles of famous people throughout the Middle East, and has combed the catacombs of passageways underneath Jerusalem with Benjamin Netanyahu. You will enjoy the following videos and his book Temple.
In Christ, Pastor Steve <><
Can you imagine the upheaval in political and religious thinking if the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is not the site of Solomon’s and Herod’s temples?
Since first published in 2014, Bob Cornuke’s ground-breaking book, TEMPLE, has been heralded as “an investigative masterpiece” with “astounding archaeological and prophetic implications.” We have already seen some “Bible scholars” publicly mock and try to refute him for his discoveries. Refusing to even debate him for fear that their lucrative careers will be tarnished, knowing all the while that the discoveries in this book has literally sent shockwaves through the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian worlds.
Bob has just released his NEW and updated version of this exciting book. Because there were so many negative untrue things being said about Bob’s discovery of the location of the Temple, Bob decided to add an appendix in the back of his new book to address these negative accusations. To be fair, he decided not to write the appendix, but to allow an outsider do the research and write this section of the book. That man is Dr. William P. Welty, who taught New Testament Greek for ten years at Simon Greenleaf University of Anaheim, California. Dr. Welty is a Bible scholar and executive director of the ISV Foundation. He was skeptical at first when Bob ask him to do the research, but when he finished, he called Bob and told him “There is no way that this is not the place of the Temple in the City of David.” His research is excellent!
Click on this link to read an article written by
Dr. William P. Welty titled:
In Defense of Dr. Robert Cornuke
1/2/2018 Palestine is the nation that was created solely to exterminate the nation of Israel. (Which will never happen). The Islamic hatred goes back to the loins of Abraham, and will continue for the remainder of the church age in which we live. It all started with Ishmael and Isaac, and Jacob and Esau. The following scripture highlights the current challenges that our world faces vs. Islam. The man representing the scripture, of course, is Ishmael and his descendants: Genesis 16:12 King James Version (KJV)
12 “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” The word “Jerusalem” is not found in the Koran. King David wrested Jerusalem from the Jebusites 3,000 years ago. It was founded as the City of David and Mount Zion, and has been so ever since. The latest stream of hatred from the Muslim world was caused by Donald Trump encouraging Israel to move their capitol to where it belongs – Jerusalem. Amen and amen, for a righteous president with fortitude. In Christ, Pastor Steve <><
Ramallah Shoe Store Sign Demands Shopper Apologies for “Trump’s Dirty Decision”
Shoe store in Ramallah puts up “Not So Welcome” sign at entrance, asks shoppers to apologize before coming in.
A shoe store in Ramallah has put up a sign stipulating that US and UK shoppers “offer [their] apologies and hold responsibility for the Balfour Declaration And Trump’s dirty decision [sic].”
Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!
November 28 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News
Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!
Bethlehem TODAY – The Birthplace of Jesus!
November 28 2017
Written by: Prophecy in the News
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit the town of Bethlehem in Israel, you will find that the place where Jesus was born is nothing like you would imagine. Perched on a hill at the edge of the Judaean Desert, Bethlehem is the historical place where Jesus was born “in a manger” and is now preserved by the “Church of the Nativity.” It is considered a major Christian holy site and is one of the oldest surviving Christian churches.
The birth of Jesus is told in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Matthew 1:18-25 – King James Version (KJV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.
Luke 2 – King James Version (KJV)
1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
According to the Bible, both accounts agree that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. According to Luke 2:7 (in the traditional translation), Mary “laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.” However, the Greek can also be rendered, “she laid him in a manger because they had no space in the room” — according to some scholars, they perhaps imagine Jesus being born in a cave. The gospel accounts do not mention a cave, but less than a century later, both Justin Martyr and the Protoevangelium of James say Jesus was born in a cave. Some believe this is reasonable, as many houses in the area are still built in front of a cave. The cave part would have been used for stabling and storage – thus the manger.
Saint Justin Martyr, (born c. 100, Flavia Neapolis, Palestine [now Nāblus]—died c. 165, Rome [Italy]; feast day June 1), one of the most important of the Greek philosopher-Apologists in the early Christian church. … He spent a considerable time in Rome.
WIKIPEDIA: The Gospel of James, also known as the Infancy Gospel of James or the Protoevangelium of James, is an apocryphal Gospel probably written about AD 145, which expands backward in time the infancy stories contained in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and presents a narrative concerning the birth and upbringing of Mary herself. It is the oldest source to assert the virginity of Mary not only prior to but during (and after) the birth of Jesus. The document presents itself as written by James: “I, James, wrote this history in Jerusalem.” The purported author is thus James, the brother of Jesus, but scholars have established that the work was not written by the person to whom it is attributed.
History of the Church of the Nativity
The first evidence of a cave in Bethlehem being venerated as Christ’s birthplace is in the writings of Justin Martyr around 160 AD. The tradition is also attested by Origen and Eusebius in the 3rd century.
In 326, Constantine and his mother St. Helena commissioned a church to be built over the cave. This first church, dedicated on May 31, 339, had an octagonal floor plan and was placed directly above the cave. In the center, a 4-meter-wide hole surrounded by a railing provided a view of the cave. Portions of the floor mosaic survive from this period. St. Jerome lived and worked in Bethlehem from 384 AD, and he was buried in a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity.
The Constantinian church was destroyed by Justinian in 530 AD, who built the much larger church that remains today. The Persians spared it during their invasion in 614 AD because, according to legend, they were impressed by a representation of the Magi — fellow Persians — that decorated the building. This was quoted at a 9th-century synod in Jerusalem to show the utility of religious images.
Muslims prevented the application of Hakim’s decree (1009) ordering the destruction of Christian monuments because, since the time of Omar (639), they had been permitted to use the south transept for worship.
The Crusaders took Jerusalem on 6 June 1009. Baldwin I and II were crowned there, and in an impressive display of tolerance the Franks and Byzantines cooperated in fully redecorating the interior (1165-69). A Greek inscription in the north transept records this event.
The Church of the Nativity was much neglected in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods, but not destroyed. Much of the church’s marble was looted by the Ottomans and now adorns the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. An earthquake in 1834 and a fire in 1869 destroyed the furnishings of the cave, but the church again survived.
In 1847, the theft of the silver star marking the exact site of the Nativity was an ostensible factor in the international crisis over the Holy Places that ultimately led to the Crimean War (1854–56).
In 1852, shared custody of the church was granted to the Roman Catholic, Armenian and Greek Orthodox churches. The Greeks care for the Grotto of the Nativity.
The Grotto of the Nativity, a rectangular cavern beneath the church, is the Church of the Nativity’s focal point. Entered by a flight of steps by the church altar, this is the cave that has been honored as the site of Christ’s birth since at least the 2nd century.
A silver star in the floor marks the very spot where Christ is believed to have been born. The star’s Latin inscription reads, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born — 1717.” The floor is paved in marble, and 15 lamps hang above the star (six belong to the Greeks, five to the Armenians and four to the Latins).
All other furnishings date from after the fire of 1869, except for the bronze gates at the north and south entrances to the Grotto, which are from Justinian’s 6th-century church.
Note: I was in Israel just after Christmas in 1987, exactly thirty years ago from writing this. I was inside the Church Of The Nativity and toured this holy site. I agree totally with the above article that the early church historians, led by Justin Martyr in 160 A.D., and followed by Origen, Eusebius and others, give this site the best credence as the genuine place where Christ was born. Merry Christmas, Pastor Steve <><
Key The Following Link From The Southern Baptist WMU, For A Celebration Of Christ’s Birth:
Archaeologists in Israel have uncovered a stunning 1,500-year-old Christian mosaic that was once the floor of a church or monastery.
Experts found the mosaic during an excavation in the ancient Mediterranean coastal city of Ashdod-Yam, now part of the modern city of Ashdod. The discovery, which was made in August, was announced Thursday by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
An inscription in Greek dedicated to the structure’s builders offered archaeologists a vital clue. The inscription mentions a date on the ancient Georgian calendar, enabling experts to date the building.
“[By the grace of God (or Christ)], this work was done from the foundation under Procopius, our most saintly and most holy bishop, in the month Dios of the 3rd indiction, year 292” it reads. The year 292 corresponds to 539 A.D. “This is the earliest appearance of the use of the Georgian calendar in the Land of Israel, many years before it was used in Georgia itself,” explained Dr. Leah Di Segni of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who deciphered the inscription, in a statement.
Experts from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Gottingen and Leipzig University in Germany also participated in the project.
Ashdod-Yam was an important city during the Byzantine period. Long hidden under sand dunes, the city is now revealing its secrets. “As far as we know, Ashdod is now home to the largest community of Jews of Georgian origin in the world,” said Dr. Alexander Fantalkin of Tel Aviv University, Dr. Balbina Bäbler of the University of Göttingen, and Sa’ar Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in the statement. “Testimony to the presence of the actual Georgians in the Land of Israel as far back as the Byzantine period has been found dozens of kilometers from Ashdod – in Jerusalem and its surroundings. But this is the first time that a Georgian church or monastery has been discovered on the Israeli coast.”
The archaeologists note that, according to historical sources, the fifth-century Georgian Prince and Bishop Peter the Iberian lived in Ashdod-Yam.
Archaeologists are now working to raise additional funds to continue their excavation of the site.
The Ashdod-Yam mosaic floor is just the latest fascinating Christian archaeological find in Israel. An ancient Greek inscription, for example, was recently found on a 1,500-year-old mosaic floor near the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. The inscription mentions the Byzantine emperor Justinian, who ruled in the 6th century A.D., and commemorates the building’s founding by a priest called Constantine.
In 2015 a 1,500-year-old church was discovered at a Byzantine-era rest stop between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In 2014 the remains of another church from the same period were uncovered in southern Israel.
Experts also believe they have found the lost Roman city of Julias, formerly the village of Bethsaida, which was the home of Jesus’ apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip.
Reported by: James Rogers – Fox News
By Prophecy in the News| November 27th, 2017|Tags: Archaeologists, Ashdod, Christ, Christian Mosaic, Christian News, Georgian Calendar, God, Greek, Israel, Prophecy News
Mecca, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual home of Islam
Posted with permission from WND
Mecca, Saudi Arabia is the spiritual home of Islam
It is planned to extend over multiple nations and to dwarf New York City at 33 times its size. The costs are expected to be hundreds of billions of dollars, and it is already attracting investments from some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in the world.
It’s Neom, the new mega-city planned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon.
Located on the Red Sea coast, the city will have a special legal status within Saudi Arabia and will supposedly be fully automated, with robots outnumbering humans.
The city is also supposed to be powered entirely by renewable energy sources, feature free high-speed Internet and will extend over 10,231 square miles, crossing the Egyptian and Jordanian borders. The crown prince also spoke of the kingdom’s willingness to embrace what he called a “normal” life, promoting a form of Islam that “translates to tolerance, to our traditions of kindness.”
Saudi Arabia has debuted a flashy promotional video intended to attract foreign investment, vowing to build a center for global culture with “nothing to hold you back.”
“No set ways of thinking, no restrictions, no divisions, no excuses,” claims the narrator, speaking in a British accent. “Just endless potential. This is the blank page you need to write humanity’s next chapter. Neom … a part of the world set aside for those who want to change the world.”
The global financial elite are already rallying around the project. The Economist proclaimed:
“At the launch were an ebullient Masayoshi Son, the Japanese head of a $100bn ‘Vision Fund’, and Stephen Schwarzman, head of Blackstone, a private-equity giant. Klaus Kleinfeld, a former boss of Arconic, Alcoa and Siemens, is to be NEOM’s chief executive. The prospect of creating a dynamic zone without the barriers to enterprise found elsewhere in the country has such people genuinely enthused.”
Such grandiose pronouncements already are drawing criticism. The kingdom has already tried to construct the “King Abdullah Economic City in Rabigh,” billed as the “world’s next great economic city.”
But despite a projected population of 2 million people, there are only 5,000 permanent residents. There are also doubts whether Saudi Arabia’s bureaucracy can effectively administer such a massive project. In addition, the fall in oil prices is limiting the amount of cash the Saudis have to fund such an expansive project.
But another critic is worried about the more disturbing implications of the plan. Joel Richardson, the New York Times bestselling author of “The Islamic Antichrist,” believes he has solved the biblical riddle of “Mystery Babylon” in his book of that title.
And he argues the location of the end times’ city of evil is in Saudi Arabia, making the kingdom’s newest plans to become an economic superpower deeply worrisome.
One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture – solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of “Mystery Babylon.” Available now in the WND Superstore.
“Throughout church history, interpreters, commentators and students of the Bible have struggled to understand the identity of a last days city known as ‘Babylon the Great’ (Revelation 17-18),” Richardson told WND.
“Many have looked to the city of Rome as the fulfillment, while others have looked to Jerusalem, or New York City. Others have been awaiting a city to be rebuilt on the literal site of the ancient Babylon about 50 miles south of Baghdad in modern day Iraq. In my book ‘Mystery Babylon,’ I suggested the kingdom of Saudi Arabia may be a more appropriate, and even more biblically defensible position. Specifically, I look to the city of Mecca, the single greatest city of idolatry that mankind has ever produced.
“Well over a billion and a half people bow down five times daily and pray toward that great city. The mosque in its center which houses the famous Kabba, or cube-shaped shrine that Muslims pray toward, is literally the single most visited location in the whole earth, with millions upon multiplied millions of religious pilgrims visiting each year.”
Richardson does not take seriously Saudi claims of favoring a “tolerant” form of Islam.
“Saudi Arabia is the single greatest source of funding for the spread of radical Wahhabi Islam all over the earth,” he said. “Over the past 40 years, the Saudis have spent roughly $150 billion to build mosques and fill them with radical Wahhabi hate preachers all over the earth. They have arguably spent more to spread Wahhabism around the earth than the entire mission spending of the global Protestant church. From any given madrassa in Pakistan to the mosque in your town or city, it is likely it was paid for by the Saudi royal family. No other nation in the earth has done as much as the Saudis to spread a false religion throughout the earth in such a way that its fundamental character has been so permanently impacted.”
Richardson believes the effort to build a new “mega city” supports his claim “Mystery Babylon” will be located within Saudi Arabia.
“Students of biblical prophecy have long noted that the book of Revelation speaks not simply of a city, but of a ‘mega-city’ that will emerge in the last days,” he observed. “Consider the massive building projects taking place in and around Mecca and Jeddah, which will soon feature the world’s newest and tallest building, dwarfing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Just to the north, the Saudis have been quietly building the King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), which is slated to become the region’s most technologically advanced sea port. All three cities – Jeddah, Mecca and KAEC – will soon be linked by a high-speed rail line which will allow anyone to get from one city to the next in less than 30 minutes.
“There is no doubt that this emerging megalopolis will match all of the unique descriptions of the last days Babylon, combining idolatry, religious power and economic power into one desert sea-port. It is for this reason that students of God’s Word are taking a fresh and serious look at the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its relationship to biblical prophecy. Now, the Saudis have announced this massive project to the north of Mecca and Jeddah. Truly, this would fulfill the description of a ‘mega-city’ as mentioned in the Book of Revelation.”
Richardson, a frequent critic of Saudi influence on American politicians, acknowledges the kingdom will find it difficult to realize its breathtaking ambitions. Nonetheless, he warns the rapid expansion of Saudi influence throughout the world and the construction of a sprawling metropolis straight out of the pages of Scripture should command the attention of faithful Christians.
“Any watchful student of prophecy will be paying very close attention,” he said. “We should be paying attention not only to ‘Neom,’ but to all that is now unfolding in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the ancient and modern day fountainhead of a violent false religion now bursting out into the nations.”
One of the greatest mysteries in Scripture – solved at last! Discover the terrifying truth behind the shadowy identity of one of the greatest horrors of the end times. New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson reveals the secret of “Mystery Babylon” Available now in the WND Superstore
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Prophecy News Watch
At breakfast we witnessed another beautiful sunrise, a red rubber ball rising over new Jerusalem. This is Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath – no work is done. Our breakfast was made from food prepared on previous days. Not even scrambled eggs could be prepared. Talk about straining gnats.
Israel is made up of hills, valleys, hamlets, and towns. Mountains abound all around the Jordan Valley. We descended toward the Dead Sea and traveled the mountain, desert road, which is also rocky, hilly, craggy and lonely – between Jerusalem and Jericho. We descended over four thousand feet and once again, entered a different climate. This, as you probably realize by now, was the road used by the Good Samaritan. Our ears popped. What a beautiful land of endless variation! We saw many Bedouin camps and tents, goats, and sheep along the way. Israel really opens up the past. We passed through the wilderness of Judea, just north of Neger, and the wilderness of Beersheba. We passed deep gorges and narrow mountain passes, and canyons (Wadi) on the way toward Jericho. In the distance we saw Mount Nebo, Jericho, and the Wilderness of Temptation. We descended rapidly to the Dead Sea which was once a desert, but now, with water available, tomatoes, onions, strawberries, etc. are raised. We saw a Greek Monastery – the site of Biblical Gilgal. We also saw the place where Joshua crossed the Jordan River and laid down twelve stones. The Dead Sea provides Israel with minerals, power and electricity. We turned south towards En Gedi and Masada. We passed the mountains at Qumran, where later today, we will see the caves where the Bedouin shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947. Our ears kept popping. Now we went by the actual caves which hid the scrolls. What a desolate place is Qumran, home of the Essenes. The Dead Sea is 20% salt, and right next to a fresh water spring. The residents of Qumran depended on this fresh water supply. We saw possible Essene farms and a community near Qumran.
After proceeding south along the Dead Sea for awhile, away from the spring, the land again turned into a desert. The Dead Sea is shrinking and getting smaller. The water line is moving back. What beautiful terrain – the desert, mountains, and the Dead Sea – it has to be seen. We drove south a long way, passing caves where rebels hid from Greek and Roman authorities. The Dead Sea was four shades of blue, surrounded by lush, green vegetation, and towering red and brown mountains and cliffs. Leopards and ibex dwell in these forlorn mountains. We kept proceeding south toward the oasis of En Gedi. As we passed through En Gedi, we immediately saw an oasis filled with beautiful palm trees. En Gedi, of course, is where David hid from Saul in a cave and cut Saul’s garment. I can see why David stayed here.
We then passed a health resort where a sulfur spring bubbled from the ground. Finally we approached our first destination of Masada. What a majestic site in the distance. The ramp that the Romans built in order to capture Masada could be seen. The Romans, under Titus, took three years to capture it through siege (70-73 A.D.). We also saw Mount Sodom south at a distance. An oasis was at the bottom of Masada. What a beautiful drive, Jerusalem to Masada. One may ascend Masada in one of two ways: 1) by cable car or 2) by the “snake path” which takes about forty five minutes. There is no rain here, and we saw one large cistern on the way up. It was a large man made quarry, turned into a cistern. Masada means stronghold, rock, or fortress, and was built by the paranoid Herod. There are three separate levels to King Herod’s Pleasure Palace, connected by staircases. The top level of Masada is twenty acres. Many of the Roman encampments could be seen below. The Roman encampments were square shaped and very easy to see. Masada had water, swimming pools, gardens, and just about everything to make it a paradise. A Roman wall crept all around the base of the mountain in order to keep the people captive. After three years, over nine hundred zealots committed suicide. Masada was discovered only one hundred years ago. When the Romans laid siege to Masada, they probably got their water at En Gedi. When the Romans attempted to build the earthen ramp, the zealots threw rocks down on them. We passed a stone quarry that was used by Herod in order to build. The walls of all the rooms at Masada were once beautiful, painted, and covered with plaster. There were saunas, hanging gardens, bath houses, pillars, storage rooms with a nine year food supply (the food was near Herod’s quarters). There were beautiful mosaics. There was even a hot room, and the floor was supported by small columns – underneath the floor were coals and hot water which created a sauna. Tile was on some of the walls. As mentioned, the pleasure palace of Herod had three tiers, and was located in such a way as to catch the breeze at the end of the mountain. The outline of the Roman encampments could be seen all around the mountain. The General’s Quarters could be seen inside the encampments at the corner of each. Water came to Masada all the way from the mountains near Jerusalem and was collected in cisterns. There were holes in the base of Mount Masada which collected the water runoff from the mountains nearby. The force of gravity pushed the water up, because even the top of Masada is below sea level! The top level of Masada features the Northern “pleasure” Palace. Next, I visited the lowest tier of the pleasure palace, the third level down. This tier gave Herod shade and breeze. There was a hidden stairwell which was built into the rock, that Herod used to go up and down. There were no trees in the area, hence the Romans had to haul a battering ram for a long distance. Then I saw the middle terrace of the pleasure palace (Northern Palace), and observed the remains of a narrow, circular stairwell built into the rock.
Back on the top terrace was the oldest synagogue in the world at the time of the Second Temple. Ezekiel, Chapter Thirty Seven, “The Vision of Dry Bones,” was found in the synagogue. Nearby, there was a chamber for the scrolls, or library. We observed the Roman ramp of earth closeup from the top of Masada. There were many towers posted along the outer walls. We left the “leisure” Northern Palace, and entered the Western “working” Palace. This was the Administrative Palace. A woman and her daughter were the only ones who did not commit suicide in 73 A.D. They hid themselves in an empty water cistern.
Now we will head for En Gedi. The Dead Sea has no fish or seaweed. The sulfur smell is very strong. En Gedi comes from “En” or spring, and “Gedi” or goats. We came to Wadi David – the springs and water source for En Gedi. We observed the ibex wandering on the cliffs, the mountain animal of Israel, from which we get the word “Gedi.” En Gedi features a beautiful waterfall. At En Gedi, the water originates at a spring and goes underground. The water is warm. On our walk back from the waterfall, we saw a “coonie” which looks like a groundhog. We also saw about twenty ibex walking along a high ridge. We saw many other ibex amid the rocks. They are very coordinated for the mountains, and they change the position of their feet to land square on the rocks.
Now we went to the Dead Sea at En Gedi for a swim. One can float there with no effort at all. Salt deposits were left all over our bodies. Since I shaved the previous night before swimming, my neck stung. You could smell the sulfur, and clay deposits were left everywhere. The clay is used for cosmetics, facial treatments, and other vain pursuits of man. Since the Dead Sea is the lowest place on the face of the earth, and tropical, and unseasonably warm, and has many mineral deposits, one feels that God did something special here – such as rain fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah, and dropping the entire valley below sea level.
Onward to Qumran. We passed an oasis filled with palm trees along the way. (By the way, it just came to mind that there were no problems on the trip which had to do with the recent P.L.O., Gaza Strip and Bethlehem developments). Qumran was settled by the Essenes in the eighth century B.C. We visited the remains of the community, observing a water channel, a cistern, scrolls stored in a Scriptorium, and a cemetery. Many scrolls have been located in these mountains nearby. Observed in the Essenes Community were homes, pottery, stables, flour, a dining hall, a pool and a cistern. Every remaining artifact gives evidence of a simple life style. The Essenes left Qumran and went to Masada.
We left Qumran to go back to Jerusalem. On the way home, our guide mentioned that Bedouins still trade camels for wives. They love their simple life style. We passed a military camp. Now we went back to the road which goes from Jericho to Jerusalem. We passed another military camp. Many Bedouin Camps were seen on the way back to Jerusalem. We passed through today’s Bethany and stopped at Lazarus’ tomb. It was deep and dark and seemed very real. We had to duck and crawl in order to enter the crypt area. It appeared to be a real possibility of genuine authenticity, like the tomb of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.
We again entered Jerusalem. We visited Jesus’ Garden Tomb, mentioned in the paragraph above. It too, seemed authentic because of 1) the trough where the stone rolled, 2) and the window where the Bible seems to indicate light came in (John 20: 4-8); when John and Peter saw the linen clothes in the tomb, a source of light would have been needed for them to see the clothes after running into the tomb – the window, of course, would have provided the light.