Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Massada, Qumran & the Dead Sea

The aim of visiting the Holy Land was to go where Jesus went but we did spend one day going to places where he didn't go. 

We started by visiting Massada, the mountain-top fortress which played such a significant role in defence for so long.  Herod (who ruled 37-4BCE) recognised the strategic nature of this location and used as a defence.  During his time it operated as a luxurious palace and it is amazing to think of how they would have got all the necessary supplies up the mountain in those days.  This was a very different experience, and yet a reminder of the possibilities of human achievement and a marker of the skills and abilities that God gives us.

From Massada we went to Qumran and learned something of the Essene community that was based there from the 2nd century BCE.  This is, of course, the site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and so has gained a significant place in Christian history.

From Qumran we went to the Dead Sea, which we had driven beside and looked down on from Massada.  Floating in the Dead Sea was an amazing experience - and we gave ourselves a skin treatment by rubbing mud into our bodies.  This was very relaxing and refreshing - and here is a reminder of the need for relaxation and refreshment.

We live in a world where we tend to spend lots of time rushing round.  It is good to remember that we need those times when we give ourselves space and are able to relax and so be refreshed.  That is, as much as anything, a spiritual lesson to learn.

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