This is the fifth part in a multi-post description of my recent visit to Israel. To start from the beginning, go here.
Another delicious breakfast in Efrat where we stayed.
After breakfast, we headed east towards the Jordan River. On the way, we passed through the desert, and as we drove through this area, we could see Bedouins and their camels.
We passed by the modern city of Jericho as we neared the Jordan River.
This area is built up to accommodate the large number of visitors that come to this site each day. The Jordan River plays a significant part in several Bible events such as the Israelites passing over the Jordan with the Arc of the Covenant, Elijah being taken up to heaven, John the Baptist’s ministry, and the baptism of Jesus. Biblical mentions of the Jodan River >>
Setting up for a video shoot at the Jordan River. The ropes denote the border between Israel and Jordan.
It’s not exactly clear by any means.
Several people from our team were baptized in the Jordan River.
People from many different nations were being baptized in the Jordan River as we filmed.
As we left the Jordan River, we headed south towards the Dead Sea, the lowest and most salty body of water on earth. The saline level is so high that no fish can live there.
All along the western side of the road were large cliffs. This is near En Gedi, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found and where David hid from King Saul when he and his men were being pursued. Biblical mentions of En Gedi >>
Our first glimpses of the Dead sea and the mountains of Jordan on the other side.
One of the most visited tourist attractions in Israel is the stronghold of Masada. (Disclaimer: Before preparing for this trip, I had never heard of Masada except for the reference in a Vampire Weekend song.)
So it turns out that Masada is a fortification on top of a plateau that overlooks the southern tip of the Dead Sea. It was used by Herod the Great as one of his palaces, and it was later used as a stronghold for Jewish rebels against Roman control after the city of Jerusalem was besieged and it’s Temple burned. It’s a sad and fascinating story, and you can read more about it here.
My photos don’t do it justice. This plateau is huge.
Short video of Masada ascent.
Views from the top.
We weren’t sure if we’d have enough time to stop at the Dead Sea, but we ended up stopping in the En Gedi area to shoot a quick interview video. And that meant that I was going to fulfill a lifetime dream to see the Dead Sea up close.
The Dead Sea is so salty that things float higher in it’s water than they would in normal water. I had initially hoped to get in the water, but since we were on a tight schedule, I opted just to feel the water. It felt completely normal with my hand submerged, but when I took it out, the water felt oily on my skin. Even with a towel, I could still feel the residue on my hand.
On the left, you can see a large chunk of crystalized salt.
After that, as the sun was setting, we left the Dead Sea area and headed back to Jerusalem for dinner.
Next up, day four in Israel – The Garden Tomb & Hezekiah’s Tunnel. (Part 6)