Wilderness Wanderings–Day 1

March 10, 2007

Tuesday morning, IBEX SP07 embarked on its first extended field trip. We left to spend four days wandering through and learning about the Negev–“the South.” In the Bible, the term Negev usually refers to an area at the South of the land occupied by the tribes, but in Modern times, the term refers to a rather large portion of the country that extends all the way south to Eilat, a port on the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea. This area includes much of the wilderness that the Israelites would have wandered through. Thankfully, we did not spend forty years there, but the four-day Negev trip was another high point in a semester that just keeps getting better.

Our first stop on the Negev trip was at Beersheba. This town was often listed as the southern end of the land of Israel in the Bible–“from Dan to Beersheba.” This city also played a prominent role in the lives of the Patriarchs, so we acted out part of the biblical narrative in front of the walls at Beersheba. Here is Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar.

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We visited another city nearby–Arad. This city is not so prominent in any biblical story, but you can see some pretty comprehensive remains of a settlement from 3000-2500 B.C. Just in case you are wandering, that is before Abraham ever heard of the Promised Land. Above these ancient ruins stands the remains of a large Israelite fort from the times of the Israelite kingdom. One of the most interesting things about this fort was that it included a miniature temple that even contained a “holy of holies,” but the temple was full of examples of syncretism–the blending of the worship of the true God with the false gods of the surrounding cultures.

We visited these two sites on possibly the greenest day of the year. I had to tell myself repeatedly that it usually looked much browner. Here is a picture of Arad and the fort there. Check out the wildflowers…

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From Arad we headed to Sede-Boqer, where you can see the house of David Ben-Gurion, who is to the modern State of Israel what George Washington is to the United States. To me, the most interesting thing about the house was not only the quantity of books, but also the variety of subjects these books covered. Also, Ben-Gurion decided to retire in simplicity at a kibbutz on the edge of our wilderness, when he could have lived in the lap of luxury.

From Ben-Gurion’s house, we went out into the wilderness–no more wildflowers. We stopped at Nahal Zin–an impressive canyon at the beginning of the Wilderness of Zin. If you like hiking, you should come to Israel.

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As we traveled further into the wilderness, we stopped at Avdat–a Nabatean city. The Nabateans lived in the times of Christ and were traders. They would take spices and other rare commodities from Arabia all the way to the Mediterranean coast. They knew the secrets of the wilderness and sustained a civilization where no one else could. One thing you learn when you see all these ancient ruins is how smart these ancient people were. They did some pretty impressive things without many of the technological aides we have. Here’s a picture from the ruins at Avdat.

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Our group stopped for the night at Mizpe Ramon, which sits on the edge of Mactesh Ramon–a huge crater that is six miles by twenty-four miles large. We arrived right at sunset, which filled the canyon with color. Our group had a blast running around, taking pictures, and having fun at the end of a good day. But the fun had not even started yet. The Negev trip was only going to get better. Here’s my favorite picture from the sunset; this one goes all to all my Hotchkiss brothers.

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I’m hoping to get a post up for each day of the Negev Trip. This trip was straight-up legit. We stopped at so many cool places and had plenty of time to learn not only academically, but also spiritually.

I hope to continue blogging this week, but my parents arrive tonight! I don’t think this should slow down the blogging train, but you never know what might happen at IBEX.

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2 Responses to “Wilderness Wanderings–Day 1”

  1. rd said

    thank you for hotchkiss around the world i need to get some good shots of the hotchkiss shirt around cape verde

  2. jennster87 said

    HOTCHKISS!!! love the pic:)

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