Friday, February 20, 2015

Day 8 - Dead Sea Float @ Kalia Beach -> Jericho -> Hotel Prima, Wast Jerusalem -> Dinner at Hotel

After lunch, we proceeded to dead Sea Float @ Kalia Beach. It was very well done.

Rev Quek's Notes :
The surface of the Dead Sea, 418 m below sea level as of 2006, is the lowest water surface on earth. The lake is 80 km long and has a maximum width of 18 km; its area is 1,020 sq km (Singapore is 716 sq km). The Dead Sea is fed mainly by the Jordan River, which enters the lake from the north. Several smaller streams also enter the sea, chiefly from the east. The lake has no outlet, and the heavy inflow of fresh water is carried off solely by evaporation, which is rapid in the hot desert climate.

The Dead Sea contains some 27 percent solid substances: sodium chloride (common salt), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium bromide, and many other substances, The lake contains no life of any sort except for a few kinds of microbes; sea fish put into its waters soon die. The Dead Sea is economically important as a source of potash, bromine, gypsum, salt, and other chemical products, which are extracted inexpensively.

The lake is closely associated with biblical history; the sites of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are believed to lie beneath the lake.

Owing to large-scale projects by Israel and Jordan to divert water from the Jordan River for irrigation and other water needs, the surface of the Dead Sea has been dropping for at least the past 50 years.

In September 2002, Israel and Jordan agreed to construct a 320-km (199-mi) pipeline that would link the Dead Sea with the Gulf of Aqaba to slow down the process of evaporation of the lake’s waters. If the shrinkage is allowed to continue, it is likely that the Dead Sea might disappear altogether by 2050. The shores of the Dead Sea are of growing importance as a winter health resort.


Dead Sea (“Float”). Biblically known as the Sea of the Arabah or the Salt Sea, its mineral content is so high that nothing lives in it. With a salt concentration many times higher than that of the world’s oceans, the density of the water in the Dead Sea is so high that anyone can float in it. With its unique concentration of minerals, Dead Sea waters and mud have long been known to have health and cosmetic benefits.

Enroute to the beach. Remember to bring S hook for the shower as the shower cucible has no hooks!

Church members enjoying the float. I had a quick float.

We enjoyed a relaxing afternoon floating on the sea and thank God for the perfect weather!
In the evening, we visited Jericho which was in Palestine.

Rev Quek's Notes :

Jericho is believed to be one of, if not the oldest cities in the world. Besides being old, Jericho is also one of the lowest cities in the world, about 244 m below sea level.
It was also the first city captured by the Israelites upon entering the land of Canaan following their 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt.
Jesus healed Bartimaeus, the blind beggar, and dined with Zacchaeus, the rich tax collector. And both Cleopatra and Herod the Great coveted this lush oasis.

Jericho sits between Mt. Nebo in the east, the Central Mountains to the west and the Dead Sea to the south. In addition to these natural fortifications, Jericho also benefited from natural irrigation afforded by the Jordan River approximately four miles to the west, and from underground tributaries from the Central Mountains which fed her famous oasis. This irrigation resulted in teeming plant life and helped to transform Jericho into a flowing sea of green in an otherwise barren desert. Jericho's natural resources, beauty, and natural defences caused her to become the ideal locale for trade.

Jericho later fell to the Babylonians, but was rebuilt when the Jews were allowed to return from their exile. The city continued to be a resort during the rule of the succeeding empires. The Romans destroyed the old city in the first century, but it was rebuilt in its present location by the Byzantines. The city later fell to the Crusaders and then was recaptured by Saladin. Jericho was largely ignored and deserted for centuries afterward.

The UN partition decision allocated the area to the Arab state, but, after the 1948 war, it was controlled by Jordan. Many Arabs who left other parts of Palestine moved to the area and a number of UN refugee camps were set up. A Palestinian nationalist named Musa Alami founded an agricultural school to train refugees in 1951, which is still in operation. The territory was subsequently captured by Israel in the Six Day War.

Jericho (along with the Gaza Strip) was the first territory given to the Palestinians by Israel as part of the Oslo peace agreement in 1994. Before the outbreak of the Palestinian War in 2000, the Palestinian Authority had been developing the town in hopes of making it a major tourist attraction, most notably erecting a large casino and hotel at the outskirts of the city. The main attraction in Jericho is the Tel es-Sultan (Sultan Hill), the site of ancient Jericho. In reality, little remains beyond a few piles of rocks that archaeologists now tell us were once parts of towers, staircases and other structures that date back at least 7,000 years. The oldest stairs and wall in the world are on the site. The layers of 23 ancient civilizations were uncovered here and may be as much as 9,000 years old.


Jericho City. Reputed to be the oldest town on earth, Jericho is an important city situated about 16 km northwest of the Dead Sea in the Jordan Valley, Jericho was the first city conquered by Joshua and the Israelites after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 6:12-21), after which he put a curse on the city and on the man who rebuilt the city. It was also at the gate of Jericho where Jesus healed Bartimaeus, the blind man who cried out to Him (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus encountered the tax collector Zacchaeus at Jericho (Luke 19:1-10). There is a sycamore tree in front of a Greek Orthodox Church in modern Jericho. Is that the same tree Zacchaeus climbed?

Oldest City of the world - Jericho.


Ruins and ruins of Sultan Hill -the site of old Jericho City which was once a thriving city. Today, little remains except a few piles of rocks which were once parts of towers, staircases and other structures that date back at least 7,000 years. The oldest stairs and wall in the world are on the site. The layers of 23 ancient civilizations were uncovered here and may be as much as 9,000 years old.

Entrance to Tel es-Sulta - Sultan Hill

Later, we visited a shop that sells pottery and dates and fruits. Again, shopping time.

Fresh permanganate juice

We returned to West jerusalem and had dinner at the hotel. Today was the start of the Jewish Sabbath which starts at 3pm. The hotel has a special lift, the sabbath lift, that will stop at every floor once Sabbath starts. the Sabbath will end the next day at 3pm. No working, no cooking, no transport from 3pm onwards. Before dinner, a group of us took a stroll via Jerusalem Chords Bridge to visit a small shopping centre at the end of the bridge along Yafo Street.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Day 8 - Ein Gedi -> Ahava dead sea products factory -> Qumran -> Lunch

Next stop was Ein Gedi.

Rev Quesk's notes :

Ein Gedi (Kid Spring) is located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, and is the largest desert oasis in Israel (250 acres-125 football fields). It is watered by four springs. Their fresh water made the settlement possible since ancient times, and was referred several times in the Bible as a fertile place.

Ein Gedi was prosperous in the Hellenistic and Roman period, its wealth based on its famous dates, vegetation, and the precious balsam which was used to manufacture perfume.

(a) 1 Samuel 23 29, 24:1—Ein-Gedi was the place where David hid while being pursued by King Saul

(b) Song of Solomon 1:14—The vineyards of Ein Gedi were celebrated in King Solomon's times.


Ein Gedi (literally “The Spring of the Kid”) is an oasis located near the Dead Sea known for its beautiful springs, caves and abundant animal life. This was David’s refuge when he fled from King Saul (1 Samuel 23:29). It was in one of the caves here that David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe (1 Samuel 24). Some of the psalms are believed to have been inspired in this area.
Model of Ein Gedi

Map of Ein Gedi

Waiting Area


Enroute to waterfall in Ein Gedi

Waterfall, David's falls

Enroute to entrance

Back to entrance

After Ein Gedi, it was shopping at Ahava factory before proceeding to Qumran
Rev Quesk's notes :

Qumran is located 70m above the level of the Dead Sea. The site is 325m under the sea level. The hills of the Judean desert are located on its western side.

Qumran may have been one of the desert cities listed in the Bible as part of the Judah tribe villages. Its name was either "Secacah" or "city of salt" (Jos15: 61-62).

During the end of the 2nd C BC the site was resettled during the Hellenistic period of the Hasmonean kings - John Hyrcanus I or Alexander Jannaeus. The new settlers were a break-away sect known as the Essenes (or Essences), who populated the caves and oasis sites along the western shore of the Dead Sea. They preferred to live in a remote area, far from the normal life in the cities and villages of Israel. It was built as a self supporting communal village, functioning as a sort of Monastery (which is one of the oldest known).

After the earthquake of 31 BC in the Jordan valley, during the times of King Herod the Great, the settlement was severely damaged and deserted. The Essenes returned to rebuild the site in 4BC.

During the Great revolt against the Romans, the sect sided with the rebels. The residents of Qumran prepared themselves to the worst, and hid their precious treasures (the scrolls) in the caves. The Romans indeed conquered Qumran (68AD), destroyed it and dispersed the sect.

In 1947, a shepherd boy discovered the Dead Sea scrolls in a local cave. The area was excavated and additional scrolls and fragments were discovered in 11 caves around Qumran. The scrolls were hidden in jars, and were preserved relatively well due to the dry climate of the Judean desert.

The buildings in Qumran included mainly public structures that hosted large public events, workshops and a scriptorium where the scrolls were written. Most of the residences were probably in tents around the center. A large cemetery of a thousand tombs was located near the ruins of Qumran, which further indicated that Qumran was a center for the Essenes sect.


Qumran. The 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in a cave here by a Bedouin shepherd chasing a stray sheep in 1947. Consolidated from scrolls found in some 11 caves, every Old Testament book is represented except Esther.
Background on the discovery of the scrolls at the entrance

The jars in which the scrolls were kept

Scribe Room

Dead sea Scrolls

Qumran Caves

Where the Essenes stayed during their times

The scroll caves

Qumran caves

Dead Sea in the background

Qumran Nation Park

Lunch was at Qumran. The "canteen" was very crowded and chaotic and our group were scattered. Food so-so.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 8 - Breakfast at Hotel -> Masada National Park

After breakfast and committing the day to the Lord in prayer, we were whisked off to dead sea wilderness area to Masada National Park. It was wilderness and more wilderness along the way.
Rev Quek's Notes:

Masada is located on a diamond-shaped flat plateau (600m x 200m). The hill is surrounded by deep gorges, at a height of roughly 440m above the Dead Sea level. Masada became a symbol for a heroic 'last stand' for the State of Israel and played a major role for Israel in forging national identity.

At the beginning of the great revolt against Rome in the year AD 68, the site was conquered by a group of Jewish zealots, and Masada became their last stronghold. In the year 72 the Romans besieged Masada and succeeded in reaching the steep fortress. In the year 73, the 960 Jewish zealots living at the top of Masada chose to commit suicide rather than to fall into the hands of the Romans alive.

The most impressive structure on Masada is King Herod's northern palace, built in 30 BC on three rock terraces overlooking the gorge below. Near the palace is a large Roman style bath house with a colourful mosaic floor and walls decorated with murals. Many other buildings at the site - such as the luxurious western palace, the mikveh (Jewish ritual bath), storerooms, watchtowers, and synagogue relate the history of Masada, especially when viewed with artefacts such as storage containers, decorated pottery, scrolls, and coins.

The beautiful embossments and murals that were discovered on the walls of buildings on Masada were restored by Italian experts to preserve them for years to come. This is the largest and most complete Roman siege camp that remains today. In 2001 UNESCO declared Masada a World Heritage Site.


Masada Museum

We need to ride a cable car to the top

View from the top. Wilderness and desert

Entrance to the park via a wooden bridge.

View from the bridge

Model of Masada - diamond-shaped flat plateau

Briefing by the guide

Ruins of ancient judaic Masada fortress

Thermal baths on Masada during Jesus' time. The Romans sure knew how to enjoy themselves

Byzantine church

Ruins of ancient judaic Masada fortress

Model of Herod's palace - Upper terrace, middle terrace & lower terrace.

Dead Sea in the background

Warehouse to store grains



Cable Car Station