Ein Gedi, Masada and Arad
February 26, 2008
by William Block

William BlockWe woke up to a great breakfast at Kibbutz Kalia and...Praise the Lord!!!...the road to Masada was open! We passed the Qumran area again, impressive mountains on the right, and a "nude" beach on the left (nobody was there). Our first stop was the AHAVA factory to buy some Dead Sea products, to make our women even more beautiful. We then made a stop at Ein Gedi which had a spectacular view of a waterfall complete with ibex. This is where David hid from Saul. They also bottle water at this oasis.

Masada Snake PathFurther south to Masada, where the new one-year-old Masada Museum presented the archaeological remains that had been excavated there in a beautiful fashion. We then took the cable car to the top, passing Elden and Pat on the way, as they hiked up the ancient snake path. A few rain showers threatened us while at Masada but did not deter our brave group from pressing on!

Masada PalaceMasada was wonderful in every way. The vastness of the storage rooms, the magnitude of the palaces, and the overall grandeur of the layout built by King Herod on top of this mountain truly impressed us. The site seemed packed with school groups. We noticed they were always escorted by an armed guard. We descended to Herod's northern palace to see the remains of beautiful frescos on the remaining walls.

Masada RampFinally we descended down the siege ramp, built by the Roman soldiers, which we all negotiated carefully, and fortunately without incident. We saw yet another water system under the walkway to the northern palace in our "Brethren and Cistern Tour." It is incomprehensible to even imagine how the mass suicide that too place at Masada was planned and executed! Could any of us have done the same?

Tel Arad FortressWe drove across the desert to our next stop, the city of Arad, where we had lunch in the local mall. We had a very enjoyable visit with two Israeli soldiers who sat at the table next to us. Then off to Tel Arad which was a Canaanite and Israelite village and YES- we saw the water cistern. Dr. Randall Smith and his group joined us at Tel Arad and he gave an informative lecture on this Canaanite/Judahite city.

We stayed overnight at the beautiful Beer Sheva Hotel to recharge for the next day.