Day 10. It took us an hour plus to travel from Bethlehem hotel to the Church of the Good Shepherd, Jericho (we had visited 3 days ago). We had an outdoor Mass this time at this church. Joon was asked by Father Jim to help with the communion wine.
Outdoor morning Mass in Jericho, Joon assisting with the Eucharist
We headed to Jesus’ baptism site on the River Jordan. The River marks the border between Israel and Jordan. Across the river, we could see a number of churches. The King of Jordan had offered each Christian denomination free land to build their church. Such a generous gesture in a land of conflicts!
Churches across River Jordan, Jordanian flag flying
Here is another benefit in going to the Holy Land with one’s parish. Father Jim conducted a baptismal renewal rite for us at the banks of the River Jordan! Truly a great way to commemorate our visit to this location.
Father Jim blessing the group as part of the baptism renewal rites at the River Jordan
Baptismal site at River Jordan
Heading our way to the old quarters of Jericho, the lowest and oldest city in the world. Tell es Sultan is the excavation site where they found ancient ruins dating back to 2700 BC!
Note sign board.
The springs from mountain melt flowing into Jericho
Opposite this site is Mt. Temptation. The local name means 40, alluding to the 40 days of temptation faced by Jesus.
Can one succumb to temptations without realizing it? And what if one believes there’s no temptations at all, but just experiences and desires?
After lunch and a shopping stop, we headed to Qumran. 900 over manuscripts written between 200 BC to 60 AD by the Essenes. Written mainly in Hebrew, a small number in Aramic and Greek. It’s worth viewing the 7 min presentation but ensure the admission staff schedules your group in line with your wait time and language.
The walk through the site is not to the caves where the scrolls were found but through the site where the Essenes lived. It was interesting to see how they built water channels to slowly capture sediment and leave fresh water.
Cave 4 where some scrolls were found. Entrance to cave was level ground, namely the Essenes walked into the cave before erosion occurred.
Camel rides and picture taking offered at various locations. Typically for USD 5.
We reached the Dead Sea about 4.20pm. George highlighted certain precautions about going into the Dead Sea due to its high salinity, which was reinforced by sign boards. Net, even a drop in one’s eyes can be painful. If you have an open sore, be careful.
I brought my goggles which help but still some sea water got to my eyes. Definitely painful. The taste is not just very salty but there was a mineral taste to it. Floating is very easy, and it’s quite difficult to swim normally as one’s legs tend to stay above water if one is using one’s arms!!
It’s difficult to stay long in the sea as the sea water does seem to penetrate one’s skin. Interestingly after changing, I could feel some salt crystals inside my ear.
One could collect one’s own mud if one had brought some containers. Lots of shopping and eating options at the beach.
A longish day was capped by a dinner hosted by Holy Land Tours with dances by high school kids.