Hebrew Highlights 26 - Ein Gedi
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
PSA 18:1-3 (For the choir director. A Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who) (spoke to the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord) (delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And) ( he said,) "I love Thee, O Lord, my strength." The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.
This is one of the rare times in the Bible when we are told where, when, and under what circumstances a scripture was actually written. The story is recounted in 1SA 23:29-24:22 Since time does not permit reading the entire tale, I will summarize it for you. David and his small band of followers went to hide out in Ein Gedi. Saul was pursuing them with 3000 men. Although scripture calls it the stronghold of Ein Gedi, there was neither fort nor castle, nor for that matter, any other buildings there. Ein Gedi is a valley leading to the shores of the Dead Sea, carved by springs out of the solid rock mountains in the wilderness of Judah. Today, it is about an hour and a half’s drive from Jerusalem. In David’s day, it probably took several days by horse or camel. Between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea area, there is nothing but dry rugged hills and valleys, difficult to transverse by any means, then or now.
On either side of the valley, are many caves. It was near here, in similar caves, that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, after being hidden and preserved by the dry climate for nearly 2000 years. Ein Gedi receives only about one inch of rainfall per year. David and his men were hiding deep in one of these caves when Saul came in, as the Bible so graphically points out, “to relieve himself”. Later when Saul was asleep, David, though he had the chance to kill the King of Israel, whom he would eventually replace, simply cut off a piece of his robes. He told his men that he would not touch the Lord’s anointed one. The next morning, David called out to Saul, showing him the remnant of his garment he had cut off during the night, proving that he meant Saul no harm. To make a long story short, Saul forgave him for the time being, and left him alone. David and his men stayed at Ein Gedi for an undisclosed amount of time afterward.
David learned a lot during his stay in this small oasis in the wilderness, and probably wrote more than one psalm there. Let’s continue to read PSA 18:31-33 For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God, The God who girds me with strength, And makes my way blameless? He makes my feet like hinds' feet, And sets me upon my high places.
Though David was surrounded by solid rock, he realized after his miraculous escape from Saul, that his real rock and stronghold is the Lord God himself. If you go today to Ein Gedi, and read this passage while standing in the midst of the valley, it comes to life in a way you have never imagined. Even though you may arrive on an air-conditioned tour bus, by taking in you surroundings on the journey, you will still appreciate PSA 63:1 (A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.) O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
In PSA 107:35-38, David makes a profound prophetic statement. “He changes a wilderness into a pool of water, And a dry land into springs of water; And there He makes the hungry to dwell, So that they may establish an inhabited city, And sow fields, and plant vineyards, And gather a fruitful harvest. Also He blesses them and they multiply greatly; And He does not let their cattle decrease.”
Today, Ein Gedi is a thriving kibbutz, or communal farm, growing dates, and exotic flowers. They operate a beach on the Dead Sea, plus a world famous spa and hotel. You can tour the nature reserve, watching the hinds and rock rabbits, which David mentions in his psalms. It is literally a fresh green spot in the middle of the wilderness.
We also have an interesting look at the future of Ein Gedi in the scriptures as we read in EZE 47:8-10, “Then he said to me, "These waters go out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah; then they go toward the sea, being made to flow into the sea, and the waters of the sea become fresh. "And it will come about that every living creature which swarms in every place where the river goes, will live. And there will be very many fish, for these waters go there, and the others become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. "And it will come about that fishermen will stand beside it; from Engedi to Eneglaim there will be a place for the spreading of nets. Their fish will be according to their kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea, very many.
So, when you visit Ein Gedi today, bring your Bible and your swimsuit. There will come a day when you’ll need your fishing gear too!
Shalom, Shalom from Jerusalem.