Holy Land Day 4: Jordan River, Jericho, Mount of Temptation, Qumran, Jerusalem

The day started departing Tiberias at the Sea of Galilee shortly after sunrise as we made our way along the Jordan River to the site thought to be very close to the Baptismal Site of Jesus Christ. Many pilgrims among our group commemorated their baptisms in the Jordan.

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From there we stopped in Jericho for some camel riding before we took the cable cars up to the Mount of Temptation where we toured the Greek Orthodox Monastery impressively built into the cliffs of the mountain.

Afterwards, we were treated to views of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin shepherds in 1946. We learned that the texts are of great historical, religious, and linguistic significance because they include the second-oldest known surviving manuscripts of works later included in the Hebrew Bible canon. The group then enjoyed a dip in the Dead Sea to experience the extreme buoyancy and rejuvenating properties of the Dead Sea minerals.

From there we were not far from Jerusalem so we drove on into the city to get settled at our hotel. After a much-needed break, we walked into the old city at Jaffa Gate to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. We witnessed the centuries-old nightly ritual of the locking and handing over of the doors of the Sepulcher. Since the 1400s a Muslim family has been entrusted with the safekeeping of the key and the responsibilities of locking and unlocking of the door each morning and evening. This allows for keeping the neutral status of the site between Christian denominations. We then enjoyed pizza and wine at Jacob’s Pizza.

We then walked through the dark walkways across the city to the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter. Quite a day!

Jordan River, Mount of Temptation, Qumran, Dead Sea, Jerusalem Old City

The day started with sunrise over the Sea of Galilee as we made our way along the Jordan River to the Baptismal Site of Jesus Christ. From there we stopped in Jericho for some camel riding before we took the cable cars up to the Mount of Temptation where we toured the Greek Orthodox Monastery built into the cliffs of the mountain. Afterward we were treated to views of the Qumran Caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. The group then enjoyed a dip in the Dead Sea to experience the extreme buoyancy and rejuvenating properties of the Dead Sea minerals. From there we were not far from Jerusalem so we drove on in to the city to get settled at our hotel. After a much needed break we walked into the old city at Jaffa Gate and enjoyed pizza and wine at Jacob’s Pizza before heading to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. After that we walked through the dark walkways across the city to the Western Wall. Quite a day!

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Ecclesia with Breaking Bread Journeys: Jordan River, Mt. of Temptation, Qumran Caves, Dead Sea, Jerusalem by Night

On day 5 of our journey we covered a lot of ground. We started our day at a baptismal site believed to be the closest to where Jesus was baptized. It’s a beautiful area with nothing else around it except for what’s across the river on the Jordanian side, you’ll see a couple of orthodox churches.

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From there we went on to Jericho for some camel rides and a trip up to the Mount of Temptation on the cable cars. The views from the mount’s sheer cliff dropoff are breathtaking.

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Next up was the Qumran caves, where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered.

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Next we heard from a representative of a local water conservationist NGO (EcoPeace Middle East) who showed us how far water levels were dropping. She took us to a previous resort that is now closed and abandoned because it is no longer at the shoreline of the Dead Sea.

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After that we visited Kalia Beach on the Dead Sea where we experienced the peculiar sensation of extreme buoyancy and the rejuvenating effects of the mineral-rich Dead Sea mud.

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We packed up and then made our way to Jerusalem. We enjoyed wine and pizza in the old city at Pastor Chris’ favorite spot, Jacob’s Pizza. Then we were able to make it to the Holy Sepulcher before closing time. We entered the old city through the Jaffa Gate…

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Afterward we saw the generations-old tradition of the locking of the doors of the Holy Sepulcher, something I personally had never witnessed in any of my five visits here.

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We walked onward through the Muslim Quarter to the Western Wall in the Jewish Quarter. Pastor Chris was invited by some orthodox Jews to dance with them as they sang songs at the wall. Quite a night!

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Ecclesia with Breaking Bread Journeys: Jordan River, Qumran, Dead Sea, Jerusalem

August 5, 2015. Today seemed like 3 days packed into one. We started before sunrise and we covered so much ground. We began our journey from Tiberias to a new baptismal site on the Jordan River, right at the Jordanian border. Sunrise over the Sea of Galilee greeted us with the serenity fitting for such a meaningful day.

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We arrived at the new baptismal site situated right on the border of Jordan and Israel. The river was surprisingly maybe only 20-25 wide. It was a very isolated location, extremely quiet with a warm breeze from the desert. We’ll never forget the experience of white doves suddenly coming from the Jordanian side of the river, flying right over our heads as Pastor Chris was baptizing.

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After everyone commemorated their baptisms, we made a quick snack break where some of us enjoyed a camel ride…

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Next we made a quick stop to learn about the Dead Sea Scrolls which were found at Qumran.

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Next on the itinerary was a visit to the Dead Sea…

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Next we finally arrived in Jerusalem at our beautiful hotel, The American Colony, and walked into the Old City for a visit to the Holy Sepulcher and the Wailing Wall.

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Closing time… and that was a day!

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