Our first full day in Israel began with a drive to Qumran, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls were found in pots similar to these.
Interesting that the only picture I took of any plaques had to do with cleansing....after the long days we had hiking through the deserts and other regions, I can certainly appreciate their need for ritual baths!
As we walked around the desert area, I was surprised at the vast heights of the mountains and lows of the valley. Qumran is located at the northern point of the Dead Sea.
On another day we visited the Israel Museum where we saw the Dead Sea Scrolls on display.
This was also where we had an exceptional meal! Our waitress was the most precious girl and a truly bright spot in our day! While we were there, she learned to say some true southern favorites, such as "y'all" and "Roll Tide Roll".
Fresh fish with garbanzo beans, swiss chard, garlic and onions.
Followed by a trio of sorbets...passion fruit, malabi, and berry...this made me happy!
After driving south from Qumran, we took a cable car to the top of Masada, a mountain-top desert fortress built between 37-31 AD by King Herod. Masada overlooks the Dead Sea and from this isolated rock plateau we could easily see how the Dead Sea is literally drying up.
Original mosaic tiles...
Trees can grow on top of desert mountains...
A few of us walked down a 175 step staircase to the Northern Palace...then we walked back up the same flight in the desert heat...in the words of our fearless Bible study leader, Pam, "we didn't come all the way to Israel to stand around and be hot", so we soldiered up and were so glad we did once we saw the beauty of the Palace remains. The columns and painting of the remains were quite impressive. The Northern Palace had incredible views of the En Gedi, Dead Sea and Mountains of Moab.
Through the course of history, Masada was a place of destruction by the Romans, refuge for the Jews and ultimately the site of death for more than 900 Jewish men, women and children when all hope of salvation from Roman slavery was lost.