Wow! First stop today: Masada, the incredible cliff fortress alongside the Dead Sea. The hanging palace and luxurious baths built by Herod the Great for his own enjoyment (in this fortress built for his personal defense) remind us that “it’s good to be the king.” He was amazingly creative when it came to pampering himself at the expense of the people he ruled.
The site associated with the production of the Dead Sea Scrolls and their discovery is called Qumran. It seems to have been inhabited by a pious Jewish community seeking to separate itself from the spiritual corruption that it perceived in Jerusalem, especially in the Temple leadership during the Roman period. This was an interesting archaeological site, rich and very well presented. The Dead Sea Scrolls are important for our understanding of Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, messianism, and the history of the Old Testament text itself.
We passed through Jerusalem with an unforgettable view of the Temple Mount and the Old City and experienced a “Genesis welcome” to Jerusalem from our guide based on Gen 14. We lunched and shopped a while in Bethlehem, where we will return tomorrow to worship, tour, and meet a United Methodist missionary.
Our shopping in Bethlehem was at the Kando store, which is run by the family of the man (Kando) who received and first held the original Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls reached the attention of the world first through him. (So we shopped boldly, you might say, with a Kan-do attitude.) We were received most graciously by his family and treated to a great presentation and a close-up view of one of the original jars in which two of the most important Dead Sea Scrolls were found.