The Gate of Tel Arad in the Negev
Vern giving a lecture next to a Tamarix tree - one like Abraham planted near
the well of Beer Sheva
Although Abraham would have settled the area in tents, the town gave us a feel for the period's construction. In the middle of the city is the town square. It was here strangers and guest would come to find a host for their stay. Normally the city elders would take in the stranger and provide for all of their needs. There is some debate around the case of Lot in Sodom and Gomorrah. With the statement from the locals that he was a stranger dwelling among them has given rise to the idea that either Lot stepped outside his bounds by inviting them in (as it would have been the elders job) or that the city didn't care, and by Lot taking them in, he has exposed their shame. Either way the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were wicked people. In the Middle East, a family's name is of utmost importance. It would be better to kill individual members of one's family than to have the family name shamed, for one is not just shaming themselves but one's immediate family, extended family, and one's ancestors. Hence, the modern "honor" killings in Muslim areas. It is better for a family member to die than shame the family name. This too is the case in Lot's account with the angels. He would rather give up his own daughters than have the family name be shamed by not taking care of his guests. If word got out that Lot had not taken care of them, it would take years to recover from the shame ... if ever. In the case of the Levite and his concubine in Gibeah, the rest of the nation came to the Levite's defense and proceeded to almost wipe Gibeah and the tribe of Benjamin off the map. While on the Tel of Beer Sheva, we looked at the remnants of an Israeli style home, got a lookout over the city and wadi systems, as well as a walk though what I believe were the cisterns for the city.
Up close and personal with the Ibex - talk about hind's feet -
these creatures can jump all over the mountain with only
inches of ledge. They can easily outmaneuver predators
in the difficult terrain.
Once back on the bus we headed out for one last stop. On our way, we passed the ancient Nabatean city of Arad - different than both the tel and modern city. Here there are remnants of adult baptistries - before the whole community moved to infant baptism following the community's conversion to Christianity. Our final destination was on the southern end of Canaan land - only 50 km from Egypt – at the Machtesh of Ramon. Here the limestone had buckled and washed away. Today it is a great crater or bowl. Beyond the amazing views one can just make out the plateau of Edom on the other side of the Dead Sea. Somewhere in this vicinity, Moses and the Israelites would have passed on their way to Promised Land. After the two hour drive back to campus, we ended the day with another great meal at the Youth Hostel in Arad.
|Breakfast ... lot's of new foods this morning!|
|Art on the way to Tel Arad|
|Entering the Gates|
|Overlooking the ruins at Tel Arad|
|An Israelite Temple in Arad?|
|A "living" Sacrifice on the undressed altar|
|Having our lecture in "the holy place"|
|Looking toward the southern end of the Judean Hills - Hebron is just over|
|And somebody needs to proof read the English Translation before making|
the signs ;)
|Walking on the later Israelite fortress.|
|Hiking down to the older part of Tel Arad ... this dates back to the Canaanite|
|Looking down the well at Tel Arad ... as this is the lowest point in the city,|
anything you through out would make it into your water supply!
|Looking back toward the Israelite tower here at Tel Arad|
|Reconstructed House at Tel Arad|
|Welcome to the Negev|
|Surprisingly there is a lot of construction going on in the desert - I assume|
water and gas lines. With limited space, the Israelis are determined to make
the desert bloom.
|Most signs in Israel are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English|
|Welcome to Beer Sheva (pronounced with a "v" not "b"|
as it is written in English. ... This is the stomping ground of
our father Abraham.
|Visitor Center ... we'll start our lecture here.|
|Here is the well at Beer Sheve - dropping 80 meters|
|This well is outside the city so that when watering one's herds and camels,|
you don't bring them within the city.
|Standing in the Gates of Beer Sheva|
|Can you make out the small mud line about three-quarters the way up on the|
stone layer? This is the reconstruction line. Everything below this was
found in place. Everything above has been reconstructed from the remains.
|The open square. It would have been in something like this that the angles|
would have come when visiting Sodom and Gomorrah.
|Looking over Beer Sheba toward the modern lookout tower ;)|
|Overlooking Beer Sheba, founded by Abraham|
|Notice the Wadi System in the background - there is another one to the|
right just outside the picture. The two wadis meet here and make their way
to the Mediterranean.
|Storehouses at Beer Sheba|
|Walking down to the large cisterns on the edge of the city.|
|Underground cisterns of Beer Sheba|
|An Oasis in the Desert!|
|Ben Gurion's Garden Path ... making the Desert Bloom!|
|The Ibex is dancing for me!|
|Tomb of Ben Gurion and his wife, first Prime Minister of Israel|
|Overlooking the "Grand Canyon" of Israel|
|Now at the bottom of the Canyon, getting ready to|
begin our hike.
|Hiking the "Grand Canyon" of Israel|
|And the winding path of stairs begin!|
|Sometimes the path gets very thin! Here it's not too bad.|
|Looking back from where we came ...|
|Here we are passing the Nabataean remains of Arad.|
|Overlooking the Machtesh Ramon - a giant crater formed by the main|
limestone splitting upward and washing out.
|I'll pass on this photo opportunity! ;)|
|Me overlooking the Machtech Ramon ... The Israelites would have passed|
somewhere in this vicinity on their way our of Egypt to the Promised Land
|A great place to have one's devotions ... except I would find some shade as|
it's nearing 100 degrees
|Back at the Youth Hostel in Arad for an excellent dinner!|