Day 3 - 7th September 2014
Bethany - Tomb of Lazarus, Mount of Temptation, Jericho, Sycamore tree, Baptismal Site and Dead Sea
Today we started our tour visiting Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from dead. Bethany is just few kilometers away from Jerusalem. When Lazarus was dying, as John’s Gospel(11:1-44) recounts, his sisters sent for Jesus. But Jesus delayed his arrival until four days after Lazarus had been buried, “so that the Son of God may be glorified”.
In the days of Jesus, a man thought to be dead could gain consciousness and come out after two or even three days. But after four days a person is declared dead for certain. That is why Jesus delayed his arrival for four days, to eliminate all possibilities, “so that the Son of God may be glorified”.
Inside the tomb of Lazarus
Church of Lazarus - another design of Berluzzi made to represent a tomb without any windows
From Bethany we travelled to the Mount of Temptation.
On the way, in more desert-like land we saw number of Bedouin encampments.
Even in the desert-like land we witnessed new cultivations taking place.
Mount of Temptation:
We ascended the mountain by Cable Car
Far away you can see the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab and Gilead
The Mount of Temptation, with a gravity-defying monastery clinging to its sheer face, is traditionally regarded as the mountain on which Christ was tempted by the devil during his 40-day fast. The summit of the mount, about 360 metres above sea level, offers a spectacular panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab and Gilead.
3rd Temptation : Matt. Ch 4
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[e]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
From the Mount of Temptation we proceeded to Jericho.
The Oldest City of the World – 10,000 Years Old
The Lowest Place on Earth – 1300 feet below Sea level
Elisha Spring Fountain
Note the writings on the floor tiles
Luke 19 New International Version (NIV)
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
This sycamore tree may not be the very same tree that Zacchaeus climbed. But it is old enough to be from that era.
There are two sites that claim to be the location where Jesus was baptized by John. Here the water and the river bed is muddy they say. The other location at Yardenit is cleaner. In any case water in River Jordan is not potable as the display board says.
At the DEAD SEA
The Dead Sea is 67km long, 18km across at its widest point, and 420 metres below sea level. (Salt content 33%)
The Dead Sea, which shimmers like a blue mirror under all-day sunshine, is one of the most unusual bodies of water in the world.
It is set in the lowest dry land on earth, so it has no outlet. It is so loaded with minerals that no fish can live in it. It is so dense that bathers can lie back on its surface and read a newspaper.
The Dead Sea is located about 25km east of Jerusalem, along the borderbetween Israel and Jordan. About half of it is actually in Jordanian territory.
The ancient Hebrews called this body of water the Sea of Salt. Other ancient names include the Sea of Solitude, the Sea of Arabah and the Asphalt Sea. TheCrusaders called it the Sea of Satan.
The Dead Sea’s therapeutic qualities attracted Herod the Great. Its minerals and sticky black mud provided balms for Egyptian mummies and cosmetics for Cleopatra.
Now its health resorts treat psoriasis and arthritis, its skin-care products are marketed worldwide, and its industrial evaporation pans harvest potash and other minerals.
Wicked cities were destroyed
(We did not go to this location. The photograph is copied from seetheholyland.net site. With the exception of this picture, all the other photographs were taken by me or where ever I pose for the picture, somebody else took them with my camera)
Pillar of salt, on Jordanian side of Dead Sea, known as Lot’s Wife (© Visitjordan.com)
The region has many biblical connections. Here, though their locations are unknown, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by God with “sulphur and fire” and Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at the destruction (Genesis 19:24-26). Among the salt encrustations around the sea is an unusual column at the southern end called Lot’s Wife (though it is 20 metres high).
On the eastern side, the highest peak visible is Mount Nebo, where Moses glimpsed the Promised Land. Further south stands the fortress of Machaerus, where Herod Antipas imprisoned and then executed John the Baptist.
On the western side, from north to south, are Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found; Ein Gedi, where David hid from King Saul in a cave (and cut off a corner of the king’s cloak when he entered the cave to relieve himself); and Herod the Great’s fortress of Masada.
Evaporation concentrates the minerals
Because it has no exit, water is lost only through evaporation, which leaves behind the minerals. The Dead Sea is nearly 10 times as salty as the open seas. The high concentration of minerals (predominantly magnesium chloride) provides the buoyancy that keeps bathers suspended — as well as a bitter taste.
A low promontory of land called el-Lisan (“the tongue”) projects across the sea from the east, dividing the southern third from the northern section.
At one time the Dead Sea covered four times as much land as it did in 2006, when its surface was falling by up to a metre a year.
Much of the water that once flowed into the Dead Sea is being diverted for drinking water and agriculture purposes, so there is not enough to offset the high evaporation rate.
Rescue proposals to prevent the sea drying up have included canals to bring water from the Mediterranean Sea or the Red Sea.
If the Dead Sea becomes rejuvenated with fresh water, this could fulfil aprophecy in Ezekiel 47:8-10, that it will “become fresh . . . and there will be very many fish”.
In December 2013, representatives of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority agreed on a long-term desalination project in which brine would be piped about 180 kilometres from Aqaba, Jordan, to replenish the Dead Sea.
This was a unique experience. I don't think there is any other place like this on earth. You can read a book floating on this sea. The water is so salty it has a bitter taste and when water gets into the eyes it feels like burning.