En Gedi is an amazing place! It is best known as the place that David hid when he was running from Saul. Check out these photos and the OT stories will take on new meaning to you, I think (being here sure does it for me).
We read this in 1 Samuel 23:29:
29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi.
This is En Gedi. Why would David hide here? There are two primary reasons. First, it is easily defensible. From the top of En Gedi (the stronghold), your enemies must climb significantly to attack you. As they are using their hands to climb, you can easily attack them from above with arrows, with rocks, etc… Look at the next three photos to discover a second reason David would want to hide in En Gedi
Here is the reason he would hide here. Not only is it a stronghold (defensible); it also is a place of refreshment in the middle of the desert! Check out a couple more photos of En Gedi.
They asked me to speak to the group at En Gedi and I told them that what we will read about En Gedi and how refreshing it is will be hard to imagine for two reasons: 1) We are here in January. It was warm the day we were there, but nothing like it is in the middle of the summer. 2) We came by bus. This would be a two day journey through the desert to reach this place. The only way we can understand how refreshing it was is if it was the middle of summer and we hiked here from Jerusalem.
I can just imagine David and his men being refreshed by the springs and waterfalls of En Gedi!
Now – here is where it gets interesting!
We read this in 1 Samuel 24:1-3:
1 After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.” 2 So Saul took three thousand able young men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats. 3 He came to the sheep pens along the way; a cave was there, and Saul went in to relieve himself. David and his men were far back in the cave.
So David is hiding in En Gedi and they came looking near the Crags of the Wild Goats. A Crag is steep rock cliff or face.
I love teaching in Israel. I love it because I can hold a Bible in one hand and point with the other hand to what the Bible is talking about! These are the wild goats near the crags of En Gedi.
In the crags of the Wild Goats – Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. These are some of those caves! It is possible that Saul went into one of these very caves! And David and his men were hiding in the back of the cave! (v. 3)
The story continues and you can read the rest HERE. It is a great story worth reading!
Here was an amazing thing that occurred as I spoke. We had already seen several wild goats, but while I was speaking to the group, one came pretty close! Check out this photo!
I think a Psalm that David likely wrote in En Gedi is Psalm 104. Notice verses 10 through 13.
10 He makes springs pour water into the ravines;
it flows between the mountains.
11 They give water to all the beasts of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
12 The birds of the sky nest by the waters;
they sing among the branches.
13 He waters the mountains from his upper chambers;
the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work.
This passage describes En Gedi. We didn't see wild donkeys, but they are at En Gedi. Verse 10 is a great description of En Gedi.
Now notice verse 18:
18 The high mountains belong to the wild goats;
the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.
I've already shown you photos of wild goats, but what is a hyrax? It is this:
A hyrax is a mountain badger. We saw several of them as we climbed En Gedi. But here was the cool part. Literally WHILE I was reading Psalm 104 top the group, a hyrax (mountain badger) came out from behind the group and walked under one of the benches our group was sitting on. I admit after my shock, I wanted to cry with how the Bible felt like it was coming alive before our eyes.
I admit that I'm not sure they heard a word I said for a while as they were taking photos of the hyrax and the wild goats. But it was well worth it.
Here is my favorite photo I took of two hyrax (I don't know what the plural is of that)…
They look cold, don't they?
I've shown you enough photos for today. I hope you get to see En Gedi one day.