The Garden Tomb, Jericho, Qumran Caves, Ein Gedi, Biblical Tamar Park, Sukkah
Early in the morning, we visit the Garden Tomb and remember Mary Magdalene bending down to look inside.
Then we drive down the Jericho Road, waving at the Good Samaritan. In Jericho, our bus parks under an ancient Sycamore tree, but Zacchaeus is gone for the day. We marvel at the tumbled remains of the walls.
Elijah: “Wait here. God’s telling me to cross Jordan.”
Elisha: “You won’t have to cross Jordan alone! Boss.”
Five Free Methodists teach us a line from Charles Wesley:
I then rode on the sky, freely justified I,
Nor did envy Elijah his seat.
My soul mounted higher in a chariot of fire,
And the moon it was under my feet.
Our guide points across the River to the little village of Bethany, where Jesus stood in line to be baptized by John, “in the spirit and power of Elijah.”
Qumran: Dozens of caves dot these bluffs, but Elijah and his helper took no notice. At Wadi Murabba’at, where 1,000 years later scholars would hide jars and jars of sacred scrolls in its caves, they walked right by.
Little Ira never dreamed that in 1946 a boy about his age would be looking for his goats, toss in a pebble, and hear it break one of those jars. Or that he would take seven scrolls home and hang them on a tent pole for his cousins.
As we toss in pebbles, our little band of wandering Free Methodists sings:
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open heart
Oh let the ancient words impart
At Ein Gedi, the largest oasis along the western shore of the Dead Sea, we stick our toes into a pool where David stopped Abishai’s spear from pinning King Saul to the ground, where Chedorlaomer carried off Lot, but Abraham’s 318 men grabbed him back again, and where Elijah may have bathed.
At the southern border of Ezekiel’s Israel we move into our rooms at Biblical Tamar Park and then dig into a delicious Kosher American dinner.
By the open fire in the Sukkah, the Elijah Search Party is designing a shingle to hang at the door: “Elijah Stepped Here.”
Our first night in the Biblical Tamar Park. In the quiet of the Arava night, we dream of hundreds of clay jars stacked on our kitchen counter.