While in Israel, a friend from school and I did a hike from Maale Amos, in the heart of the Judea mountains to Ein Gedi on the Dead Sea. A Bedouin fellow gave us ride for a small part of the way and his son showed us around their camp. You can see in the video how he was able to get the attention of his flock. Reminded me of Jesus words, “My sheep hear my voice…”
Along the way we visited the remains of one of the most isolated of the Byzantine monasteries in Judea. What would drive a person to sleep on a stone bench and eat next to nothing for their life time? I know some say that these men came out of such pagan environments and had been so deeply affected by it that this was the only way they could find peace. I don’t know. They could not have been following the example of Jesus – he spent almost all of his time with people – with the exception of the temptation. It is ironic that Jesus went into the desert to be tempted but the monks seem to have gone there to escape temptation.
The area we walked through is likely where Jesus went when he was tempted in the desert. It is a very solitary place… I was given a GPS (thanks Mom and Dad!) before I went to Israel and it turned out to be a better gift than they probably know. Although I didn’t have any maps for it, I had three points entered into it: the start, the end, and one land mark along the way. Just knowing where you are and where are going is huge help – even if you can’t see the mountain in between.
We ended up walking through En Gedi park at night. It was a little unreal walking through one of the best preserved Chalcolithic temples in the world by moon light. I can see why David chose that area to hide from King Saul. He probably took his flock there as a shepherd and spent many a lonesome and sleepless night in that country. He was brave when no one else was watching. Why not let a lion take one of the lambs? No one will know any differently. It is interesting that both Moses and David were shepherds before they became kings. Later, Ezekiel would lament that his people were like sheep without a shepherd and Micah looked forward to a day when out of Bethlehem would come one who would be a ‘shepherd for my people Israel’. The Shepherd has come although his voice quiet now – so quiet.
|Timed Exposure of Chalcolithic Temple overlooking the Dead Sea|
|The spring at Ein Gedi|
|Roman Fort on the Plateau above Ein Gedi|