Qumran, the Wilderness of Judea & The Dead Sea

(Once again, sorry for the delay in posting. I’m thrilled to have access to Internet once again.)

Today we were on the bus a lot (hence the first picture) traveling from Jerusalem to our final destination of Jericho where we are spending tonight (Tuesday). traveling-on-the-bus-to-the-dead-sea

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Along the way we stopped at Beit Guvrin, bell shaped caves inhabited from 300 BC until well into the Arab period. Most of the ground here is chalky and was often mined in the past for use as mortar (by the Roman, for instance), for lime, and for use as plaster. There are now about 800 large caves in this area. Most notably this is where the Christians fled during the persecution of 50 AD-70 AD by the Romans. Many were hunted down and killed. One such large congregation of Christians was slaughtered right in this spot in the 7th century AD.

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After a VERY windy trip down 1300 feet below sea level (many of us were queasy by the time we arrived) to Qumran and the Dead Sea where the famous Scrolls were found in 1947, we got our first glimpse of this famous body of water. 1 cubic yard of water has 26 lbs of alkaline concentration compared to 5 lbs in regular salt water, which makes it many times saltier than a regular ocean. It was the most beautiful blue color.

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At one time today we were between 6 and 10 miles from the Gaza Strip where there is an uneasy ceasefire at the moment. Lots of military aircraft flying over (we don’t know exactly whose) and a few suspicious loud noises in the distance.

More about this wonderful day and the highlight–MASADA–later!

Out of time for now,
Diane