Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Israel – CCXCI. A Return Visit (6 of 19)

October 20


Based on archeological evidence, Jericho is the oldest city (really many cities stacked over time on top of one another) in the world; it has existed for some 10,000 years, in other words it`s twice as old as recorded history (which goes back 5,000 years).

So what do Jericho and the surrounding area include?

Tel Jericho (also known as Tel as-Sultan) includes a piece of the old city wall, the very wall that came tumbling down some 3,500 years ago.  There you can also see the excavated remains of 23 cities built one on top of another.  Finally, you have a Neolithic Tower going back 9,000 years.

[The Neolithic age is characterized by the use of stone tools; the existence of large settlements largely dependent on agriculture and domesticated animal; and the beginning of crafts such as pottery and weaving.]

Ein as-Sultan or the Spring of Elisha provides Jericho with its water.  Water gushes at 1,000 gallons a minute and irrigates the valley.

Mount of Temptations is where Jesus is said to have fasted for 40 days.

St. John’s monastery is where Jesus was baptized.

Jericho is now located in the Palestinian territories.


This is the place where the Zealots had their last stand against the Romans in 73 BCE; but it has been a refuge since Neolithic times.

A fort was first built on the Judean plateau by high priest Jonathan Maccabaeus around 150 BCE.  In 36-30 BCE, Herod constructed a new fortress on the site, making it the biggest in Judea.  After Herod’s death, it was occupied by the Romans, the Jews, and finally the Zealots after the fall of Jerusalem.

What made Masada impregnable was not only its position, but the fact that it had a source of water and a renewable supply of food.  Thus the Zealots frustrated the Romans for three years; but Rome 10th legion would not quit; they stubbornly inched forward with their catapults and battering rams.

When it became clear that the Romans would sooner or later invade Masada, its inhabitants committed mass suicide; when the Romans finally stepped on Masada, they were greeted with the scattered bodies of the Zealots.  We know the story thanks to two women and five children who hid and survived.

A visit to Masada is emotional and raises many questions in the mind of the visitor.  I found myself amazed at a fortress that allow its besieged occupants to survive for an indefinite period; and at the strategy of the Romans that allowed them to prevail.  Rare is the tourist that will not ask himself whether it was worth it; in my opinion, going back to the Great Revolt, it was simply a hopeless endeavor, for the Jews were never going to overcome the might of Rome.  The sad truth is that a lot of blood was spilled and the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, never to rise again.

Ein Gedi 

Ein Gedi (Fountain of the Goat) is a large area abutting the Judean Desert, the HaHaetakim Cliffs, the Dead Sea, mount Yishai Ridge, and Nahal Hever.  The practical way to see the Ein Gedi  Nature Reserve, and accede to a Dead Sea beach is via Kibbutz Ein Geddi.

The Ein Gedi Nature Reserve was cited in Biblical times as an oasis of abundant fertility , and was celebrated in the Song of Solomon (1:14).

It became an official reserve in 1972; it includes 6,750 acres including Nahal David, Nahal Arugot, and the slopes in between.  The oasis is fed by 4 springs:  David, Shulamit, Ein Gedi, and Ein Arugot; this profusion of fresh water has resulted in luxuriant vegetation, and varied wildlife.  It is a rewarding place for botanists in that Tropical, Desert, Mediterranean, and Steppian plants manage to grow side by side.

There is more to the Reserve than that, but this what we managed to see during our short visit.  If you have the time and money the area of Ein Gedi, Masada, and the Dead Sea is a destination by itself.

Generally speaking, a visit to the Holy Land is as long as you want to make it, assuming you have the funds and the time!

The Dead Sea

The Hebrew name is Yam ha-Melah (Salt Sea) and the Arabic name is Bahr Lut (Sea of Lot).  It is divided into two basins separated by the peninsula of Lisan (an Arabic word which means tongue).  It is bordered by the Judean Mountains to the west and the Moab Mountains to the east; one bank is in Jordan and the other in Israel.  Geologically, the sea is part of the 5 million year old Great Syrian-African Rift Valley.

Its Northern Basin is home to the most important historical sites and greenest oasis reserves in Israel.  Ein Feshka and the aforementioned Ein Gedi provide the visitors with beaches that allow for a dip in the sea.

Metzoke Drogot provides access to the Judean Desert, and allows you to get acquainted with the desert; you can enjoy hiking, mountain climbing, rappelling, camel safari, or simply tour the desert with a Desert Tour company.

Qumran is the site of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.  The scrolls are now in the Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.  You can see the actual caves, but they are, well, empty caves, not worth your time and effort.

A few facts about the Dead Sea:  It is not a sea but rather a saline lake, the salt content is seven times that of the ocean.  It is 1300 feet below sea level, earth’s lowest elevation on land.  Its annual rainfall is about 2 inches; its evaporation rate is 55 inches annually; therefore it is continually shrinking and will eventually cease to exist.  Its source is the Jordan River, but since the water is diverted for irrigation, the flow is reduced thus further lowering its level. The density is 1.240 Kg/L; therefore you can float effortlessly in the water.  Only simple organisms can live in it, hence its name.

What was my own experience?

To gain access to the beach, we went to Kibbutz Ein Geidi which supplied us with changing rooms.  Once in my bathing suit, I spent some time in a pool filled with sulphurous water coming from a spring.  Next, I went to the beach, but before entering the water, I covered myself in mud.  Finally, I went for a dip in the sea.  If you’re still young, you can skip the sulphurous water and the mud since, hopefully, you’re not suffering from arthritis!  On the other hand, if you do have severe arthritis, an extended stay will do you a world of good.

A number of warnings were given to us. The salty water will sting like hell if you’ve had a cut or an abrasion; don’t shave on the day of the tour, any water that come in contact with your face will irritate it.  Do not attempt to swim or go on your back suddenly for you can get tipped; you go in the water for a dip only.  It is dangerous to get water in your eyes.  Do not swallow any water, if it happens accidentally; go to the first aid station (salt is 30% per litre; other chemicals:  chloride, bromide, bicarbonate, sulfate, sodium, calcium, and magnesium).  Finally, you should not stay longer than 10 minutes in the water and don’t forget to shower when you come out.

If you went in the sulphurous water, your bathing suit will smell of sulphur for a long time; pack an extra (old) bathing suit, and use it on that day.

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