|Pilgrims in the tomb of Lazarus at Bethany|
Masada, Dead Sea
After six exciting days in and around Jerusalem today we packed up early and headed south in a new bus with a new driver for a totally new experience.
Although Bethany is only 2 miles or so from Jerusalem it is a 20 minute bus trip in a round about way into and through Palestinian villages. The contrast between Jewish settlements and places like Bethany, which is Palestinian, is stark.
The home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus is now a Franciscan church and the tomb where Lazarus was laid and where Jesus wept is only a few metres up a lane. We visited both places and were particularly struck by the lovely modern Church with its realist style mosaics.
|One of the caves at the site of the discovery of the Dead|
Sea Scrolls in 1954
The Qumran community was monastic style Jewish order around the time of Christ with about 200 members. John the Baptist is thought to have been one of them for 2 years. This community had some peculiar rituals mostly they were about being pure and transcribing the scriptures. Their precious scrolls were hidden in pottery urns in caves and discovered by pure chance by a Bedouin shepherd in 1954.
There is an extensive archeological site and despite blistering heat most of the pilgrims enjoyed a tour of the whole site and the audio visual presentation which preceded it.
|Glenys and Di at Masada|
How they managed to build these extensive structures in Herod's time is amazing. We ascended the mountain in a matter of minutes by cable car (holding 80 people at once). But none of this makes it a World Heritage Site, it is the pristine Roman ruins of the temporary forts that surround Masada that qualify it for that status. Masada was eventually attacked by the Romans who built a ramp and used a catapult and fire and weapons of war to engage the locals however the thousand remaining Jews decided to take their own lives rather than fall into the hands of the Romans.
|Shila and Ranji and others floated in the Dead Seal|
There is no doubt this a weird experience the high level of salt makes it very easy to float but don't get the water in your eyes or your mouth because it really stings!
After our regular evening prayers we adjourned to the dining room for the best feast of the pilgrimage so far.. and that's saying something.
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