We drove south on route 90 through the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. This dry desolate region is located east of the Judean Watershed that parallels the Dead Sea.
At 1300 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth. Known in ancient times as the salt sea (Genesis 14:3) due to it’s 30% concentration of salt and minerals. The Dead Sea has no outlet so the evaporation takes the water and leaves the minerals.
Along the route we saw military outposts on both the Jordan (above), and Israeli side, that are guarded and patrolled 24/7 by both sides, despite a long standing truce.
Another amazing sight to behold are the countless miles and miles of desert interrupted by massive date palm groves all along the route, a beautiful fulfillment of Isaiah 35:1:
“The wilderness and the wasteland shall be glad for them,
And the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose”
- We stopped at Jericho, known as the oldest known fortified city in the world, and the first city to be taken by Joshua and the Israelites as they entered the promised land:
“Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.” See Joshua 6:1-27 here
Next we visited Qumron, located just above the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. It was here in 1947 that the Qumron scrolls, the most important Biblical discovery of our age, were discovered. The manuscripts found are 1000 years older than any previously discovered, and the Isaiah Scroll, the longest of the Old Testament was found intact in the cave above.
How incredible is it that 2 verses in the last chapter (Isaiah 66:7-8) that could easily have been lost to history, verified the precise details of how Israel would be reborn just 1 year later on May 14, 1948?
“Before she was in labor, she gave birth;
Before her pain came,
She delivered a male child.
8 Who has heard such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day?
Or shall a nation be born at once?
For as soon as Zion was in labor,
She gave birth to her children.
En-gedi is an oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea. It is named for the abundant spring found in the area, and looked very tempting as the temperatures by 2 PM were 110 degrees.
En-gedi was named as a city in Joshua’s territory (Joshua 15:62; 1 Samuel 24:3-7; Psalm 142.
Masada (mountain fortress) is a natural rock fortress on the western shores of the Dead Sea. The upper plateau covers 20 acres and rises 1300 feet above sea level. The fortress was built by Herod the Great as a place of refuge, as he became more paranoid that many people were out to kill him. Herod had 7 fortresses constructed with a sophisticated water system and food storage bins that could support him and his entourage for years.
On May 2, AD 73 the 10th Legion of the Roman army succeeded in breaking through the walls only to find 960 of the defenders had taken their own lives. Josephus reports that there were 7 survivors – two old women and five children.