Day 4 (Saturday, January 5)
Today we traveled from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea. Here are a few highlights that may be of interest.
SEA OF GALILEE
Our group and another group took a boat ride in the Sea of Galilee. Once we got out into the middle, we cut the engines, read about Jesus walking across the water to the disciples' boat and then sang together. It was very moving to consider Jesus walking on the water while singing "How Great Thou Art."
Here is one of my new friends, Andrew. He is a church planter in Tampa.
If you look carefully, you can see a rainbow that was clear to us, but didn't come out great in the photo.
This boat is a big, archeological find. It is called "The Jesus Boat" because it is from the first century. It was discovered in 1986 buried in the mud when the Sea of Galilee was at a low point. This would by the type of boat that Jesus used and that were commonly used by fishermen in Jesus' day. It is very fragile and the wood is so soft that it would crumble in your hand. This is likely the type of boat Jesus preached out of and Peter fished out of (see Luke 5:1-11).
This is Qumran. It is the location of arguably the greatest archaeological discovery in history. Those at Qumran (perhaps Essenes) copied the Scriptures and other ancient documents from about 100 BC to AD 68 AD. When they were discovered in 1947 everything changed when it came to defending the Bible. The scrolls proved that the Bible had been handed down and translated accurately through the generations. These are the earliest manuscripts that still exist. The significance of the discovery is that they matched exactly (except for minute errors of transcription) the manuscripts from the 9th century. It is impossible in one paragraph to express how important these findings were.
The cave you see here is cave #4 (out of many caves where manuscripts were discovered). The scrolls were first discovered when a shepherd was throwing rocks into caves and heard something break. The scrolls had been sealed in clay pots. The ones that were sealed well were very well preserved for 2000 years!
Notice this waterfall and pool of water forming. Our guide kept saying, "This is very, very unusual." While driving we were hit with a quick rainstorm and he called it a "flash flood at Qumran." To see this much water falling in the desert is quite amazing! We could see three waterfalls – this was the closest (the others were larger, but further away and didn't show well in photos). Our guide kept saying, "It almost never rains here." Three of us hiked up to get this photo and all of a sudden a woman using a loud speaker attached to the building started talking in Hebrew. Apparently she was talking to the three of us telling us to get away from the edge… Whoops… We must have been a quarter mile from the building, but with the rock face – the sound carries a long way! One of the guys with me was the VP of the tour company we were using, so I figured it was ok. I guess it wasn't.