Israel

Jerusalem 1

In the afternoon of Wednesday September 9 we drove from Ein Gedi to Jerusalem. Close to Jerusalem, we noticed that we saw clouds! You don't see a cloud all day at Eilat or Ein Gedi, it's remarkable we actually noticed that we saw clouds again. Finding our hotel was a bit of an issue, but after driving around the old city, and asking around at various other hotels a couple of times, we finally found it. We didn't do a lot, but went to bed early, for an early start.

This is us on Thursday, in front of the Jaffa gate (the gate to Joppa).

And at the wailing wall, which most Jews consider the center of their religion unfortunately.

More photos next time.

Ein Gedi National Park, end of Day 1, and Day 2

Below three pictures taken when we were on our way back from Ein Gedi National Park, should have been part of the previous story.

The kids liked the springs so much, they wanted to go back another time. So we went early next morning: 8am at the gate (Wednesday September 9). We wanted to do a longer treck around the mountains. This is somewhat up. The white is the dead sea, because of the heat and sun it just fades away with a camera. In reality you don't see a lot either. The mountains of Jordan on the other side are hardly visible during the day.

We didn't go all the way to the top: according to the office you may only do this if you take 5 liter water per person... Halfway the mountain was hot enough though. Ida was just near collapse, but luckily we came to the Shulamit spring which Ida could let run over her back as much as possible. Refreshed we continued down to Dodim cave, a very unique cave. With cave we always think about a real cave in a rock, but perhaps the cave where David hid was more like this, a pool with a cave over it?

We climbed up again and went to the Ein Gedi spring. Just five minutes in this heat is already enough to scorch you! When we came at Ein Gedi springs, the water just feels so good. The pool was small:

As you can see, the boys enjoyed themselves!

A very nice place.

Ein Gedi National Park

After swimming in the Dead Sea it was already very hot, so the kids went back to their airconditioned rooms, while Ida and I went in our airconditioned car to the Ein Gedi kibbutz for some work. Ida really had to the laundry, I had to upload photos.

We were back quite late, perhaps 2pm or so and had lunch using the lunch provided by the Youth Hostel. Came with our take away yesterday evening, very useful. After we went to Ein Gedi National Park. It's basically a small valley between scorching rocks, with water supplied through underground channels from the Western side of the Judean desert. This creates a unique climate. There are waterfalls everywhere. The following photo shows the waterfalls, not the true depth unfortunately. But I reallly suggest you click on the picture and zoom in (zoom button in the bottom right corner) to see it in its full glory.

The park was home to some unique animals. Here the hyrax.

Their colour is very well adapted to the background:

The same for the ibexes (wild mountain goats). We could seem them trekking high up the hills, going up impossibly steep ascents.

But the big attraction are the springs and pools of course. You just can't believe how refreshing it is to get in one of those pools after having walked through possibly 55℃ in the burning sun.

So that's basically what we did: we went from pool to pool. The kids enjoyed themselves immensely.

There was even a natural slide in one of the pools.

The pool the kids liked most was the one where they could climb up and jump down.

Just before closing time we reached the last and largest spring, the David spring.

Swimming in the Dead Sea

We stayed in Ein Gedi for two days. It's even hotter here than in Eilat, just soring desert. In the morning it's ok (but still hot). Below sun rise over the Dead Sea on Tuesday, September 8.

Access to the Dead Sea was fairly close, only 2 minutes by car. This particular access point must be very popular given all the amenities.

Ida enjoyed it.

As did Anne Roos.

The water is actually clear.

The backdrop of where you swim.

The hotel is next to a national park with lots of wild goats, ibexes.

Who don't mind crossing the street.

To Ein Gedi

After Timna National Park we continued our journey towards the Dead Sea, and specifically Ein Gedi. Ein Gedi is known as Engedi in the King James. David lived in this area when he fled for Saul. At the south tip of the Dead Sea we could already clearly see an important industry here.

Somewhere from a top, towards the North East:

The water is really blue here.

And then we arrived at our apartment. Luckily we could get dinner at the hotel, there is basically nothing else here, no villages, no restaurants, no shopping.

And without air conditioning we couldn't survive here. At night it's still hot, probably still 36℃ or so.

Timna National Park

On Monday morning, September 7 we drove towards Engedi. On our way we stopped at Timna National Park. One of the reasons was that it had a replica of the tabernacle.

It's desert, surrounded by dry stoney hills, and all kinds of interesting rock formations.

The tabernacle isn't as large as perhaps imagined.

The replica is on true scale.

The altar, laver and tabernacle:

It was hot here, very, very, very hot. Luckily Mum and Dad could take cover on a platform on a small lake, while the kids still had enough energy to paddle a boat:

The next attraction were Solomon's Pillars:

Auke and Dieuwe had to go in as deep as possible:

But the burning heat had been a bit too much for AnneRoos:

Another attraction were ancient copper mines. The Egyptians had an extensive mining operation here. The visitor centre had a replica of a mine shaft. By this time AnneRoos had enough energy to make it up that shaft, to the roof of the building:

But the main reason we stopped here was the natural arch. Dieuwe is just walking towards it:

Again an attraction to great to resist.

I and Ida managed to get up as well, using a somewhat easier route.

The boys made it even further up.

This location place was completely deserted, we had it all to ourselves. We also visited the old mines, and the kids crept through a few of them. Interesting, but just walking here saps your energy, extremely hot. No idea how people could have survived in this heat.

And that ended our visit to Timna National Park. Up to the Dead Sea, and our hostel there.

Eilat

Crossing the border wasn't as big an affair as it sometimes seems to be. It was very quiet, we were basically the only persons. The only odd thing was that customs asks you what religion you are. And then we were in Eilat, known as one of the way stations of the Israelites. It's either about here, or an Arab village in Jordan, slightly more south.

We felt very sweaty after a day in the bus, so went first by taxi to the Shelter hostel, and then we walked down to the beach to have a swim. It was dark by now, but you could still make out that the water was very clear. Next day was Sunday. No churches here. There was a Bible study done by a Presbyterian pastor from the States. This was actually very sound. He talked aboud baptism by the Spirit and that, when asked if you had been baptised by the Spirit, this was code language for: have you spoken in tongues?

But he then want through all verses in the Bible, seven in total, which talked about baptism by the Spirit. Five of them are prophetic (i.e. it would happen in the future: Pentecost), one is historic: it had happened, and one was teaching on the subject: every believer is baptised by the Spirit when reborn. What believers should seek instead is being filled by the Spirit.

We had some interesting meetings with local people. We met a Jew who was the only one of a family, with wife and children very hostile.

On Sunday evening I read some parts from John Flavel's "Mystery of providence".

On Monday morning we woke up very early. We wanted to be in the Red Sea before sun rise. So at 6am I woke up the kids. Only Dieuwe didn't want to come, but both Auke and AnneRoos went with me and Ida. And we managed to be in the water before sun rise.

No photo of that of course, as we were in the water! Eilat has various beaches, but the main one is fairly small, and I suppose extremely busy during the day. This is looking West, the small sandy beach at this location is to the South, left of this picture.

This is the beach, taken a bit further back.

Then back to the hotel were we had breakfast. This is 07:34am in the morning. The sun rises quite fast here and it's already getting very hot. Temperatures are about 36℃ at this time of year. Amazingly hot.

After breakfast I went with AnneRoos to pickup our rental. This was a bit of a search as our booking said Shalom Plaza Hotel, but this appeared to have been renamed to Sea beach hotel. We have a very nice car, a brand-new Ford, fairly large, and comfortable. I also needed a new sim card for my USB stick. Got a Cellcom use-as-much-as-you-want per month one for just 150 shekels. Unfortunately this appeared not to work in my laptop when we went back to the hostel. I went back to the guy who sold me the card, and he suspected a sim lock. In Engedi I had internet access to confirm this, and this appeared the case. Bummer. I've requested a sim unlock code from Vodafone, which they supposedly will send in a few days. In the mean-time we just have poor internet access unfortunately.

Gaza

In a few weeks we hope to visit Israel. We hope to skip wide around Gaza of course. As everyone knows, that's a pile of rubble and Israel is bombing it daily. But maybe we should reconsider as I recently stumbled upon a few images of Gaza:

Still, here is a photo of Gaza. Here is another.

Thousands of martyrs

The security advisor of Palestinian President Abbas stated recently:

Jerusalem needs thousands of martyrs. If we live to see the day, and you become the leaders of the future, mark my words: It is impossible for Jerusalem to be restored to us without thousands of martyrs.

Preparing for Israel

As part of our preparation of Israel, I'm trying to come up with a list of places to visit. Thanks to the Internet there's an enormous amount of material available, such as a list of all places in the Bible which one can load into Google Earth. I've just created an overview of all the major water bodies. I've put a few relevant cities and villages on the map as well, to give context.

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