Israel Day 8: Bet-Shean, Spring of Harod, Qumran, Judean Wilderness, Jerusalem

Wake up call: 6:15AM
Bags outside your door: 7AM
Eat breakfast and then on the bus by 8AM

First stop is at Bet-Shean where there is a current and ancient city. This city has been the gateway from the Jezreel Valley and up to the Jordan River Valley. 20 years ago the ruins were nothing but open fields and green area. Come to find out that once you start digging you find layers and layers of cities built upon themselves. Some dating back to the Canaanites (2,000 BC) and even the Egyptian period. To think this was once completely underground...

There's even an ancient "potty room". Haha... we had too much fun here with pictures. 

There was a major earthquake here and you can see in this picture that the columns have all fallen and even the stones from the road exploded up. They found it just as it was back in the Roman era. None of the pieces have been moved.

A group of us hiked up to the top of the mountain that overlooked the entire plains and valleys all around. There is definitely an advantage to owning the high ground. Great views, but now it’s 96 degrees and it’s only 10:30AM and we’re so hot. We get a quick drink of water and then head on the bus to our next destination.

Harod’s Spring is a natural spring that is mentioned in Judges 7:5-7 (story of Gideon’s men being chosen for battle). We were in the exact spot where they knelt down for a drink of water and God chose the 300 hundred who were to fight against the army of Midianites of 130,000. There are beautiful flowers and lavender bushes around that fragrant the area.

Here’s Marcy taking a drink of water the “proper” way!

Now we’ll drive south 1.5 hours till we reach Qumran. Lunch is a combo Shwarma meal: Falafel in pita bread with cabbage and hummus and a diet Coke. Yum. There’s a big shop with a lot of Ahava products (made from the Dead Sea minerals) and the shop attendants won’t leave you alone. The entrance to the Qumran museum is right outside the restaurant and we stop inside for Yuval to tell us about the Essenes and their lifestyle. They were the ones who actually wrote the Dead Sea scrolls that were found in 1947.

We step outside and realize that it is extremely hot. Worse than Arizona. How do these animals survive?

Right in this spot are the excavations of the Essene village and where they used to live, cleanse, eat, and write the scrolls. We even found the remains of their favorite mascot… can you tell what it is?

That’s right, a longhorn. Ha! This pic is for Jared Perry. He's the biggest Longhorn fan we know.

There are 11 caves that we know they inhabited and the most famous one is Q4, where they found over 500 scrolls in clay pots. Here’s a few pics of us out front of the cave.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a picture of how hot it is and what the humidity is:

The Dead Sea is so beautiful, yet so hot. 

We must get back on the bus and head to Jerusalem! Our final destination for the day.