Thursday, August 23, 2018

Holy Land Devotional: Ein Gedi

Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi, which translates from Hebrew to “spring of the kid (goat)” is the largest oasis located near Masada and the Qumran Caves. Ein Gedi is watered by four springs. The fresh water makes this a fertile place and has been since ancient times. It provides a cool and refreshing refuge in the Judean Desert. When you stand at Ein Gedi, surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls, you will also see the dry and desolate desert surrounding, and the salty waters of the Dead Sea about a mile away.

Ein Gedi has sustained jungle-like greenery for thousands of years and it was a prominent location for multiple events of the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis and all the way to Song of Solomon. Perhaps the most well known story of Ein Gedi can be found in 1 Samuel when David fled to the strongholds of Ein Gedi for protection from Saul (1020 BC). Ein Gedi was a place of refuge and rest.

1 Samuel 23:26-24:2

26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” 28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29 And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Ein Gedi. 1 When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Ein gedi.Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats' Rocks.

Rewinding a few decades (1400 BC), Ein Gedi is listed in the book of Joshua as a city of the Tribe of
Judah. After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they were condemned to wander in the wilderness for 40 years due to their disobedience. If you have visited the wilderness, you know how vast, empty and depressing it would have been to be stuck there for forty years. 

But then a new leader was chosen to lead the next generation into the Promised Land. The book of Joshua begins with God calling Joshua to lead the Israelites, and then spends the first 12 chapters detailing their conquests. Beginning in chapter 13, he divides the conquered land among the 12 tribes of Israel: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. The tribe of Judah, from which will come the lineage of Jesus, was apportioned much of the southern region of Israel which included Ein Gedi.

An otherwise colorless landscape, Ein Gedi is a vibrant patch of green and therefore came to symbolize not only beauty, but also that which stands out as unique. David's son Solomon mentioned it "a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of Engedi." Solomon 1:14

Throughout ancient times, the oasis of Ein Gedi has offered relief and refuge to the weary travelers, and still today to the locals and tourists. The surrounding desert has struggled to support life since the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Ein Gedi has continued to produce water, lush greenery, and life for thousands of years as a testimony to God's grace. Often God does the same thing in our own lives doesn't He? Out of life's destruction and barren deserts, He always offers a place of refuge, an oasis of hope, and eventual relief from the dryness of the desert.

By: Nannette Cropsey
*Material from Wellington Church Devotional, Kentucky.