FROM THE SCRIPTURES
So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan (Joshua 3:14-17 ESV).
Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces (2 Kings 2:6-12 ESV).
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing (John 1:19-28 ESV).
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11 ESV).
In 1946, near a desolate spot in the Judean desert known as Khirbet Qumran, a Bedouin teenager crawled into a cave and discovered multiple clay jars he hoped were filled with treasure. He was disappointed when what he found inside was just some old scrolls. These old scrolls turned out to be more valuable than treasure though, and this accidental discovery exploded into an 11-year search producing almost 900 different manuscripts.
This was the greatest biblical manuscript discovery of all time confirming the reliability of the Old Testament. The manuscripts range from full scrolls to tiny fragments, written on papyrus, parchment, and bronze. They are written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, and can be divided into two categories: biblical books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Psalms, etc.) and non-biblical books (prayers, legal, and end-time documents).
The initial scrolls were in such great shape that buyers doubted they were actually ancient. The scrolls were most likely hidden in this near perfect environment when word came of the approaching Roman army bent on crushing the Jewish Revolt (66-73 A.D.). It was written by the Essenes, a separatist sect of Jews who had retreated into the wilderness, and among other things, painstakingly transcribed the Scriptures over several years. The scrolls are significant because they are the oldest group of Old Testament manuscripts ever found. The ruins of the Qumran community where the Essenes lived can be visited today. The excavations revealed pools that were used for ritual baths, cisterns, storehouses, and a large meeting hall.
The most interesting room is the Scriptorium, where two inkwells were found with benches for scribes to do their work. This room is probably where many of the manuscripts were copied
FROM THE SCRIPTURES:
Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way (Psalm 119:97-104 ESV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end (Psalm 119:105-112 ESV).
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV).
Ein Gedi *
Ein Gedi and its nature reserve on the shore of the Dead Sea, is where the fauna and flora of a splendid nature reserve intersect with great biblical adventures. This oasis has been a green Garden of Eden in the wilderness since ancient times, a refuge in the endless desert. The living landscape of David’s hideout from Saul and the Song of Solomon comprise some of these adventures.
As you climb the path toward the sparkling waterfall, the picture of David hiding from King Saul (1 Sam. 24:1-22) comes alive with a view of cliff-side caves. The spirited animals that gave the site its biblical name, the “crags of the wild goats” (1 Sam. 24:2), rest at cave entrances and walk around the reserve. The water gurgling through the tangled reeds and under shady acacias once nourished the beds of spices that enrich the poetry of the Song of Solomon (Song 1:14).
The mosaic floor at the excavated remains of the Ein Gedi Ancient Synagogue and town shows the dramatic story of Ein Gedi’s people at the time of Jesus The inhabitants of Ein Gedi in present days have established an internationally acclaimed botanical garden, where you can find more than 900 species of plants from all over the world.
FROM THE SCRIPTURES
David Spares Saul's Life
1 Samuel 24:1-7 (ESV)
When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks. And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul's robe. And afterward David's heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul's robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord's anointed.” So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
Song of Songs 1:14 (ESV)
My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi.