Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day One--From Beersheva to the Dead Sea

Tel Beersheva
Hotels in Israel typically serve very generous buffets for breakfast, and today was no exception.  We were well fueled for our first day of touring with our guide, Hezi.  This is my 3rd tour with Hezi, and I appreciate his hard work and devotion to getting us what we would like to have.  Today he helped us accomplish all our stops and just a little more.

An ibex along a pathway at the
 David Ben Gurion Memorial
We began by heading to Tel Beersheva, the mound containing the remains of the "city" of Beersheva dating back to before the time of Christ.  However, the site is more significant than that, as the place where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob saw significant events.  We focused on Isaac's personal reaffirmation of faith followed by his receiving the confirmation of God and others that God truly was with him--even pagans seemed to see he was blessed before he did!

We traveled on to Kibbutz Sde Boker, a place where the desert actually does bloom!  This kibbutz captured the spirit and dream of David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, who believed that bringing the desert of the Negev to life was the key to his new nation's survival.  He died there, and is buried nearby, in a site overlooking the wilderness of Sin, a rugged area mentioned as a part of Israel's journey to the Promised Land.  Seeing that terrain made you wonder how Moses could have led the people through such difficult and desolate regions, and made the need for manna absurdly obvious!

Moving on, we went to a Bedouin village setting where we were entertained and fed by our host, Salim.  He told of Bedouin life and customs, sang a few local songs, and played his coffee grinder!  You'll have to ask about that one.

Doing what you do
 in the Dead Sea
We drove on to look at the Mizpe Ramon crater, a massive hole in the ground that speaks of the incredible power of water to change a landscape (I'm thinking Flood here).  More Genesis came into view as we arrived at the Dead Sea.  Now a mineral spa resort, the area is a stark reminder of God's judgment as one contemplates the cities buried under the water near the southeast shore.  Our experience was much different as we stayed in a resort style hotel.  We didn't just float in the sea, but also took advantage of heated mineral and freshwater pools in the hotel's spa.  Then it was a great dinner and time in conversation before heading to bed--which I am about to do!