By: Brandon Dirks
Day 8: (Monday) Super Bowl, Masada, Qumran, Jericho, Dead Sea
I got up for the Super Bowl, which started at 1:30 am and lasted until 5 am. I did my personal worship at 6 am, shower, breakfast, and on bus at 7:30 am! No matter…I was excited! I was going to Qumran today where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls! And soon, I realized I was in for much more!
Masada is a place of the ancient ruins of a palace built by Herod the Great on a Horst (a type of mountain). We had to take a cable car up nearly 500 meters! We were literally ON TOP of a mountain. It was also the place of a Jewish rebel hideout from the Romans in 66CE…that came to a fascinating, yet sad end.
On to Qumran. The Qumran community is a great story, that tries to link John the Baptist to this interesting ascetic Jewish community that believed in–get this–predestination! But John never gave any hint of predestination in his preaching, so it is unlikely that John was a part of that group. This is also the place where the Dead Sea scrolls were found in 1947…and that story is even MORE interesting than I previously thought.
Lunch in Jericho (controlled by the Palestinian government) was moving. They had the best dates I ever tasted, and something called sycamore nuts. Very awesome! I met a store owner and we struck up an interesting conversation about where I am from. He was intrigued that I was born in Las Vegas, went to school and grew up in North Carolina, and now live in Kentucky. Upon leaving, he ran after me, pulled me into his store and offered me anything I wanted! Wow! Ra’id gave me a very expensive glass lantern that I look forward to using everyday in my personal worship…and I will think of his generosity and his hospitality every day as I pray for him and his family.
Next stop…the Dead Sea…where we actually got into the cold waters…and FLOATED! The salt in the water makes floating seem easier than lying in bed. Amazing! The mud is also the key ingredient in many cosmetics from the area that treat lots of skin issues. It was fun.
But the most fun was riding a camel for the first time…thanks to Patty’s check list, and our awesome guide who fulfilled her wish.
Lastly, I tried to attend a discussion tonight with a professor from the College of Jewish Studies. He has a phD from MIT and his main work is trying to answer the question: Is there a confluence between the Torah and the the Teva? In other words, is there a confluence with how the Torah tells us the world is, with what we know about the natural world (science)? Absolutely fascinating…and a bit over my head! But…I couldn’t stay long…I have to get some sleep some time.
Tomorrow is our last day…and we will say goodbye to many of our friends as they head back to the states, while a few of us will begin the long journey to Cairo (by bus :(). But not until we explore Mt Zion, the House of Caiaphas, Upper Room, the Garden Tomb. They will leave after dinner tomorrow night.
For now, I leave you with the words from Dr. Shoulder from MIT: pray as if everything counts on God, but act as if everything counts on you. Amen.