Travelling the Holy Land (3)

From Bethlehem we went up to Jerusalem and then down to Jericho – quite opposite to the direction taken by the good Samaritan. We had Masada, Qumran with the “Dead Sea scrolls“, the Dead Sea and Jericho on our agenda. Much to do and on a very tight schedule.

We started off with tasing some of the local specialities: Medjoul dates from Jericho. Quite delicious! The views along the road were magnificent. We travelled through arid mountains. Beduin camps here and there. Sometimes we saw goat herds. Sometimes off roaders conquering the landscape. Down at sea level, we turned off to the South and headed down along the Qumran mountains on the right/west having the Dead Sea on the other side. We saw flocks of storks, eagles, hawks and other birds, but also serious erosion – much like in desert landscapes anywhere.

Masada was a great attraction at the bottom of the Dead Sea. I would have surely run up the mountain if I had been on my own, but now we took the cable car, which made for some impressive vistas across the Dead Sea. It took some time before I checked the airport, but the ongoing surveillance flights made it impossible to oversee it indefinitely. The fortress of Masada is impressive, just as the Jewish resistance movement, which takes up the cry of the defenders in the Warsaw ghetto: “Never again without resistance!” and “We won´t go down without resistance!” – and therefore, “Never again a Masada!” Committing suicide and doing the work for the aggressor, is just not an option for any independent nation and people. Strange how relevant these slogans remain even as big bullies like Russia continue to through their weight around, terrorizing and committing genocide against independent nations like Georgia, Ukraine and Crimea just because they think, that they can get away with murder.

After Lunch in Qumran, we went to swim in the Dead Sea. I would have really liked to visit the Jordan Archaeological Museum in Amman or even the Jordan Museum in Ras al Ein, but that did not work out this time. It´s part of the conundrum of this political war zone, where the Arabs just don´t give the Jews space to breathe.

In Jericho we did most sightseeing from the bus – like the tree of Zacchaeus. Still, we did get out to see the site of Jesus temptation up where the cloister is today. We did not land up in a political demonstration nor in a protest march of any kind. That counts for obvious blessings +

Back in Bethlehem, we had supper. Enjoyed the company of our fellow German tourists and then decided to go up to the church of the Nativity with some eager beavers from our group. This time we went into the proper direction and crossed the Hebron Road and followed the narrow street to our goal. Along the way a German protestant church in “Children´s street” was hosting the same “Bethlehem singers”, that had previously entertained us up in Nazareth. The church was also full with listeners, but not even close to the number praying outside the mosque up in town this Ramadan. We got to the church of the nativity, which was all closed up at this time. I imagine, it the Franciscan convent, which operates a guesthouse there, could be a very convenient venue for a longer visit in future. We enjoyed fresh fruit – like the luquats (Wollmispel) – from the street vendors. My german friends did not know them. We were reminded of home.

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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