Hike in the Judea Wilderness

standing on a candidate for Rachael's tomb

The first stop on our hike was to the non-traditional, but the more likely place where Rachael was buried. The location where Jacob buried Rachael was north of Jerusalem in the territory of Benjamin (Genesis 35:16-21, 1 Samuel 10:2, Micah 4:7-8, Ezra 2:21, Nehemiah 7:26). This can be seen as Jacob traveled to Migdal Eder (Micah 4:7-8) which is equated with Jerusalem, after Rachel died, it seems plausible that he would  follow the natural flow of traveling south, instead of going back up to Jerusalem after her death. There is also a site called “the tombs of the children of Israel” which was “situated a little way from Ephrat”, where Middle Bronze Age tombs are. This may be the location of Rachael’s tomb over the traditional location that puts her tomb near Bethlehem of Jerusalem.

After Rachael’s  tomb we went to Geba which is also know in the Bible as “The Pass” which Joshua crossed on his all night journey from Gilgal to Gibeon (Joshua 10:1-5).

Me and Brit in front of The Pass

The Pass is also mention in 1 Samuel 13:16-14:23 where Jonathan crawled over cliffs from Geba to Mickmash, to battle to Philistines from the east. Another significant aspect of the Pass (which is connecting Mickmas and Geba from the deep canyon of the Wadi Suwenit) is that it is the border between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (1 Kings 15:22). Lastly we seen in Isaiah 10:28-32 and 2 Kings 18:17 that the Assyrians go across the Pass.

Most of our hike was in the Judean Desert. This is the same desert that John the Baptist preached in “the Wilderness of Judea” (Matthew 3:1, Luke 1:80, 3:2). It is also the desert that Isaiah uses in his geographical imagery (Isaiah 40:1-11). This is where Jesus was tempted and was “the second Adam” in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13, Romans 5:14-19).

lunch break in the wilderness

On our way down the ridge of the mountain range we saw Anathoth (Jeremiah’s hometown) and Almon which were Levitical cities (the cities of priests) (Joshua 21:18; Jeremiah 1:1, 32:7-8). After lunch, we descended down to the Parat Springs (Ein Parat). These springs are the Karstic springs in the Land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:7, Psalm 104:10, 107:33-35). These were also the springs where Jeremiah was told to bury clothing (Jeremiah 13:1-11). In most English Bibles the word “Nahal Parat” is mistranslated to “Euphrates” since they both have the same meaning, “fruitful”. However, it wouldn’t make since for Jeremiah to go all the way to the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia, considering the Parat Springs are in his backyard. Jeremiah buried the clothing here as a symbol of Judah’s pride and filthiness.

swimming in the Parat Springs

The barren, mountainous desert is in stark contrast to the streams of Parat. If you go down to the river bed, there are lush green trees which grow by the water, while just a mile up the mountain is a barren wasteland. A lot of this imagery is used in Jeremiah 17:1 where those who trust in the Lord are not like a bush in the desert but are like trees planted by water. They will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. We also see in Psalm 1 that those who mediate on the word of God are like trees which are firmly planted by streams of water, yielding fruit and not withering. Reading these passages and seeing the actual desert and streams that Jeremiah and the Psalmist saw, made the verses come alive and become so much more vivid.

Also in Psalm 42:1-2 when the Psalmist says, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.

Being exhausted by climbing up and down mountains in the desert, then finally seeing a cool, clear stream of water was so refreshing. This is how the Psalmist must have felt when he wrote this psalm, comparing streams of water to God. How refreshing is fellowship with God in a world that is dry and exhaustive!

The bible verse we had to memorize on this hike was Isaiah 40:1-8, where Isaiah talks about in verse 8 that, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever!” This imagery was so evident, seeing small flowers sprout up in the desert but, knowing that when the summer months came, they would all be gone. People and this life will come and go like flowers, here one second then gone the next. However, the God of the Bible and His holy word is everlasting and will endure even when this world is gone.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever!

2 Responses

  1. fanastic love this blog girl:)
    Love you and miss you soooooooo much!!

  2. […] 1Hike in the Judea Wilderness « newshalom SUBMIT […]

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