En Gedi (in Hebrew עין-גדי means spring of the wild goat or kid), an oasis and a protected nature reserve from 1971, is located on the western shore of the Dead Sea in the Judean Desert. It is only 15 minutes’ drive from the southeast of Masada or 30 minutes’ drive from the northeast of Qumran.
People were in En Gedi traceable back to the Chalcolithic/Canaanite age (approximately 5,000 years ago). At that time, a central temple was built here (in the middle of the map called Chalcolithic temple). There were 429 ceremonial vessels, mostly coppers, found in 1961 in a remote cave. These findings were wrapped and concealed behind a large stone. It seems the priests sensed some dangers were approaching and hid these precious objects for their return. These objects are now on exhibition in the Israel Museum. Please click here for the photo: imj.org.il: Objects from the Cave of the Treasure
About 1,000 BCE, King David, the biblical, famous king, arrived in En Gedi and hid there from King Saul.
1 Samuel 23:29-24:1 “And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi. After Saul returned from pursuing the Philistines, he was told, “David is in the Desert of En Gedi.”
In En Gedi, there are four water springs that flow generating of total of 3 million cubic meters of water annually:
- David’s Spring flowing into Wadi David,
- Arugot Spring flowing into Wadi Arugot,
- Shulammit’s Spring, and
- En Gedi Spring.
Some amount of this spring water is used by Kibbutz En Gedi (see the hiking map at the left hand side).
There are nine hiking trails in En Gedi. Starting from the easy ones: the ancient synagogue or the lower David Waterfall, to the difficult ones, such as Mount Yishai, Tel Goren, or Zeruiah Ascent. After we arrived at the entrance to the Reserve, we picked the easy one, the lower David Waterfall. It took about an hour to finish it (see the circle in black).
Rock Hyrax (Coney)
Since waterfalls and springs flow around the En Gedi Nature Reserve, tropical plants, mammals, birds, and agriculture flourish here. Did you see rock hyrax in this picture? I saw a group of them when I passed by; they live in groups and are professional rock climbers.
Ibex (wild goats) also live in groups and are capable of climbing steep hills, so they are professional rock climbers as well. Unfortunately, I did not catch any on the camera as they climbed quickly on the cliff. However, it reminds me of a verse when David fled from Saul:
I imagine when David and his soldiers fled from Saul, they climbed rocks and cliffs. Likely, they would have wished to have had the climbing skills that the ibex and hyrax have.
The Sodom Apple
The Sodom Apple is very common in En Gedi. This kind of hollow fruit discharges a toxic white liquid as you can see in the picture when it is cut. It serves as protection from the animals. Also, it is supposed to have a “pop” sound when you open it up, but we did not hear the “pop” sound, instead, we felt the air come out when we opened it up. We washed our hands right away after “examining” it.
Sign to Fall
What an incentive to see a sign — To David Waterfall!
DaDa! Arrived at the David Waterfall. David Waterfall is a year-round waterfall. Of course, if this was a rainy day, the waterfall would have been magnificent. When Adonai took David into the oasis in En Gedi in the middle of the wilderness, he transformed David into a better man. According to 1 Samuel Chapter 24:1-16, David did two amazing things:
- When David and his soldiers hid in the cave, David had the chance to kill King Saul when Saul went in to relieve himself; instead, David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.
- Then David exposed himself to Saul, and humbly explained to him that he would not kill someone who was anointed by the Lord.
When God takes us into the wilderness, are we going to come out a better person, pleasing to God?
I believe everyone has the same experience. When you go into a dark room, your eyes cannot see anything for a while until your eyes have adapted to the dark environment. Then your eyesight starts to resume seeing something with a little bit of light. As you can see in this picture, En Gedi has many caves and this is only one of them. These caverns are as dark as midnight when you look into them. On the contrary, a person who has been in a cave a long time can see everything that happens toward the entrance. This would explain why David could see Saul who came into the dark cave to relieve himself but Saul could not see David and his soldiers who had been hiding in the cave.
I tried to take some photos of the ibexes, the best cliff climbers. When I was ready to take them, the ibexes climbed all the way up and disappeared inside the bushes!
After an hour’s hike under the hot sun, I was so grateful to be back to the entrance and to see such a shaded resting area!