Masada/En Gedi/Dead Sea, Israel – Highs and Lows

by Funhog Family on April 11, 2014

On top of Masada

Catapult Balls Away!

The Roman Siege Ramp

Roman Ramp

Southern Water Cistern

Jael - The Answered Prayer









We got up with the birds this morning (literally) and left Camel Land by 6:30a. Our goal was to be the first on the cable car up to Masada. Masada is famous for being the place of the Jewish rebels last stand against the Romans. A small group of Jews held the fortress Masada against a legion of Roman soldiers. It took the Romans a year to build a ramp up to the fortress in order to attack it. We found huge stones inside that were carved to fit in the Roman catapults. The night before the Romans took the fortress, the Jews drew lots to decide which ten men would kill all the others (including women and children). After the deed, the ten drew lots to decide which one of them would kill the other nine and then himself. The Roman victory was a hollow one as they entered Masada to find a mass suicide. It was incredible walking around exploring the very large area where these people lived quite successfully on a mountaintop in the desert. We also had another God encounter! Kendall has been praying to see wildlife. In Masada, Kendall prayed specifically to see a Jael, wild mountain goat. Literally within minutes our Jael appeared and then walked up the incredibly steep rock face to within five feet of Kendall. The Jael just stood there looking eye to eye with Kendall as I am telling her how great the Lord is to hear even the small prayers and bless his kids in such a direct way. When going to Masada, come an hour before dawn and hike up the snake path (a must do that we did not have time nor energy for), then tour Masada and walk down the other side on the Roman ramp. There is a trail from the base of the ramp that goes past all the Roman encampments back to your car. We will make the time to do this next time.

David Falls - En Gedi

Shade in En Gedi

From Masada we went to En Gedi; the place where David hid from Saul in a cave, and then cut a piece of Saul’s robe off when Saul chose that cave for a potty break (1 Samuel 24)! I loved seeing all the school kids and how they were teaching them about Saul and David where it happened! The canyon was beyond beautiful and literally an oasis of “living water” in the middle of the very desolate desert. We did a hike which kept crossing the stream to look at several waterfalls. I could have spent much more time there hiking and playing in the stream, but it was crowded and we had a date with the Dead Sea.

The Kendall Bob

The Brian Bob

Floating in the Dead Sea is just so cool! The bottom is mostly salt and the water has the texture of caster oil. We walked to where it was waist deep and then lifted our feet. You literally don’t sink at all, not even bob like a cork. You stay stationary in what ever position you choose. The Dead Sea is super salty and full of other minerals, so if you have a cut you will quickly know it. Kendall had a couple cuts to make her experience not as pleasant, so after a half hour of Dead Sea fun we called it a day. All we had left to do was drive to Jerusalem, return the rental car, and then walk to the hotel.

That seemed like a simple enough task until as we entered the city all road numbers ceased. We knew we needed to take the 1 to the 60 to King David street, but that was no longer an option. The signs said Jerusalem (East, West, Center,…). We got lost just entering the huge city, but quickly got directions to get back on track. By the time we saw the old city, traffic was bumper to bumper stop/go with San Francisco hills thrown in. I have been driving a stick shift for ten days and that type of scenario was the first time you could smell our clutch. We got within one mile of the car rental and made a wrong turn, putting us immediately in back alley catacomb bumper to bumper traffic. Kendall had three maps going at once trying to weave us back in the right direction. We got within half a mile of the car rental agency and traffic stopped. A lady in a car going past yelled to tell us a group was holding a street demonstration up ahead, as the police sirens wailed around us. So, we did like the locals and U-turned in the middle of the back alley bumper to bumper traffic. This put us close to where we made a wrong turn previously. We started following the signs to the city the car rental agency was located in, Mamilla. This took us through tunnels under the city and popped us up where we needed to be. I filled the gas tank up as we entered Jerusalem, but after three hours of traffic in the one mile area around the car rental agency it was no longer full. They asked if I wanted to take the car and go fill it up again. I laughed and declined. The driving was so slow (unlike Tel-Aviv) that it really was not that stressful, just maddening that we were so close for so long! Walking from the car rental office to our hotel was a piece of cake compared to driving. I would never choose to drive in Jerusalem, bringing a car back is enough for me.

Kendall’s take:
April 10th: Traffic, beauty, and wildlife
Wow! How the days do fly. We started our day with a trip to the bathroom in the freezing morning cold. We said good-bye to the camels (I am reminded of Gracie Bango whenever I hear them.) and drown down (or rather up) to Masada (we were going to stop at Lot’s wife even after we found the camera, because daddy and I think it’s so cool. Mt Sodom (as in God’s judgement for Sodom and Gomorrah) is a mountain entirely of salt. Well, they (some men) were working/constructioning there and wouldn’t let us go. Daddy was disappointed, but had to concentrate on the road. It is so crazy here! (I think I don’t need audio-dramas here as there are so many live ones.)

A big truck goes the speed limit so the cars behind it get mad and try to pass him; but, when it tries it doesn’t pay attention to what is behind it so as it’s half-way past the big truck, another car behind him who is trying to pass 8 or more people at a time comes up and they beep and honk as a big tour bus comes straight at them!! Then they hurry back in line with the other cars that are behind the big truck. (It doesn’t seem to get them anywhere though. So I don’t understand why they do it.) The big trucks soon get tired of it and pull over so everyone can pass. We haven’t seen anyone get a speeding ticket yet. (I’m amazed!)

We got to Masada at 7:40. We decided not to do the snake path because it takes an hour to walk it and our legs were sore from riding a camel around in the desert for an hour! So we took the cable car. Daddy was soon happy about the choice I picked because there was hardly anyone there! If we walked up the snake path, hundreds of people would be there from going up the cable car. We had fun walking around and I prayed to see some wildlife. We explored, wandered, enjoyed, and experienced Masada. Finally, we got down to the northern palace. Some one had spied an ibex (also known as a mountain goat) and pointed him out to us. I so wanted to see him closer up and was so excited to see him at all!!! I was an answer to prayer. When we came back up to the top, the ibex came close up to us and looked me in the eyes. I was so excited because he came so close I could have petted him if I dared. We only saw about two tours of people up on Masada, but there were millions of people who rode the cable car down with us! It was so full of them, you could hardly/barely move!

Next, we went to En Gedi; where Dave hid from Saul in the cave and Saul came in and “attended to his needs” and David came and cut a piece of his robe. There were hundreds of people there! Except for the crowds, my side hurting, and the heat, En Gedi was a cool experience and I enjoyed it. Next, we went to Mineral Beach at the Dead Sea and swam on rather bobbed up and down in the water. It is so salty you have to float and if you have a cut it stings it. I found out I had three places that stung on me and that I had to get out after ten minutes as they hurt so bad. We showered off and got back in the car. Finally, we drove into Jerusalem only to get lost amid its busy, full of traffic streets. When we finally found the car rental we parked it wrong. Then we had to re-park it, give them the keys, and then we were free to fly down to our hotel. Daddy was telling me we would probably get to our hotel as fast as a taxi could walking because of all the traffic. When we got to our room it was very nicely furnished with some fruit, water, shower, three beds, toilet, window, soap, etc. But we couldn’t find the light to the bathroom so we found a sign saying, “Put your room card in”. (In this hotel, they have cards instead of keys.) Well, Daddy inserted it and immediately, the air conditioner turned on! Daddy thought it was bizarre, but I thought it was very cool. We ate some fruit, took showers, and sat down to our homework. And now I think I will say “Good-night! Good-night!”


Phil Sanders April 11, 2014 at 9:08 am

Don’t you wish you had the luxury of spending a year or two in Israel, relaxing, getting the feel for everything and sightseeing? It (the trip) really makes the Bible come alive, esp. when it comes to locations of events. Hope you guys are enjoying your trip. The Sanders P.S. We took a picture at the Dead Sea of Leslie Martin covered in that black mud. Funny!

Funhog Family April 14, 2014 at 8:49 am

We would love to spend more time in Israel Phil. I agree there is so much to consume in any amount of time less than a year or two. I would love to see a picture of Leslie Martin covered in the black mud. I asked Kendall if she wanted any and she made a pretty funny face to say no!

Diane Tuten April 18, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Floating in the Dead Sea must be even more awesome than floating in the Great Salt Lake in Utah!

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