CROSSING EGYPT AND FLOATING AT THE DEAD SEA
Crossing the border from Egypt to Israel was nerve-racking.
Although I travel abroad often, experience with immigration always makes me anxious. No matter how ready, I always have stomach upset.
This time I felt a double impact, from the ‘horror’ stories about Israeli border officials and how tight they were with the rules. No smile and everything was formal. Though there was no big problem but seeing my traveling companions grilled with many questions they had to answer made me cringe. I could not help them because they had to answer each question themselves.
After passing through the immigration process, we finally got a visa from the immigration officer. I could breathe easily. We met a driver outside the immigration area.
We, finally, entered Eilat. Everyone smiled happily. We left the border to meet our guide at Qumran.
A busy harbor with dozens of lavish resorts along the Red Sea. It is part of the southern Negev Desert, adjacent to the village of Taba in the south, the port city of Aqaba in the east, and Saudi Arabia in the southeast.
A popular destination for local and international tourists as it has beautiful beaches, a stunning turquoise water of the Red Sea and brilliant coral reefs. Combined with great hotels, nightlife and desert landscapes make Eilat the perfect destination for a holiday.
Our bus drove smoothly along the busy port of Eilat until we reached a salt pillar called Lot’s Wife. In the Bible, Lot’s Wife was a figure became a pillar of salt after she looked back at Sodom.
In Judaism, Lot’s wife punished for not obeying the angel’s warning. She deemed unworthy to be saved and turned into a pillar of salt. Another Jewish legend said that she looked back to see if her daughter was with them or not.
Qumran National Park
Archaeological site located between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea coast. The site is famous for where the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden.
First, we watched a short film about Essenes and continued to see the pottery and other artifacts in the exhibition hall. Then we went to the archaeological site under the hot sun.
A shepherd of the Bedouin tribe found the first scroll in 1947. He threw rocks into the cave to search for his goat but heard the sound of broken pottery. He found seven clay pots of scrolls wrapped in linen for almost 2000 years. The ancient scrolls sold to antique dealers, then changed hands several times.
Nearly 900 scrolls found in the cave. Mostly written in parchment and some on papyrus in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only a few were intact, the longest one was more than 8 meters. The condition of the scrolls were well-preserved due to the hot and dry desert climate.
These scrolls believed to belong to the Essenes sect. Scrolls found in eleven caves around the settlement, some accessible only through settlements. Overall there are 12 caves where scrolls and parchments found.
There are also found cistern (water reservoir), Jewish ritual baths, and burial. Similarly, the dining room or meeting room and kilns to burn the pottery.
A large cemetery was found just east of the site. While most graves contained the bones of men, several women were also found. More than a thousand found in Qumran cemetery.
These scrolls stored in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem where they are kept at optimum temperatures and moisture conditions to preserve them for the foreseeable future. The Copper Rolls found in Cave # 3 are on display at the Amman Museum in Jordan.
After the mass at the local Catholic church, we must hurry to the Dead Sea for a quick dip, experienced the natural mud and float in the salt water. Before that, our guide slipped a short visit to the Greek Orthodox church where Zacchaeus met Jesus.
Jericho became famous, among many other legends and archaeological excavations, due to Zacchaeus. He was short so he could not see Jesus through the crowd. Zacchaeus then ran and climbed a fig tree that grew along the path Jesus was about to pass. When Jesus reached the place, he looked up and called Zacchaeus. Jesus told him to go down because he would visit his home. The crowd surprised that Jesus, a religious teacher/prophet, tarnished himself by being a guest of sinners.
Although no one can confirm whether the old tree was a tree quoted in the New Testament, experts have researched and verified that the tree may have existed since the time of Jesus.
Also called the Salt Sea between Israel and Jordan in southwest Asia. The Dead Sea lies between the hills of Judea to the west and the Transjordanian highlands to the east.
The Jordan River is the only major source of water that flows into the Dead Sea, forming pools and sand holes along its banks.
The Dead Sea attracts visitors for thousands of years. This is one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great) and has been a supplier of products ranging from asphalt to Egyptian mummification to potassium for fertilizer. People also use salt and minerals from the Dead Sea to make cosmetics and herbal sachets.
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