Spa Day in the Wilderness

Thursday, April 28, 2016
Ein Gedi, Dead Sea Region, Israel
In passing, in biblical stories from childhood, I had heard of En Gedi. I knew the story of the place more closely than I knew the place itself. After defeating a Philistine army in the city of Keilah, David fled with his men to the wilderness while Saul pursued them. David was wise enough to ask his God for help and escaped at just the right moment. In the midsts of hot pursuit, Jonathan and David become ever stronger friends while Saul becomes more enraged with the man God had anointed to take his place. Eventually, the story leads to a stronghold, an oasis in the wilderness where David and his men were safely tucked away under the watchful care of the Almighty God. “Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel, and went to seek David and his men on the Rocks of the Wild Goats”‭‭ (1 Samuel‬ ‭24:2‬). The name "En Gedi" or "Ein Gedi" as it is today, is made of two words in Hebrew: 'ein' meaning spring, and 'gedi' meaning kid or young goat. To this day there are wild ibex and hyrax that live there and thrive because of this oasis. A much more commercialized area than it once was, complete with hotels, spas, recreational parks for hiking, and towns, it is still largely a wilderness area spotted with caves and in plain sight of the Dead Sea and the surrounding Judaean Mountains. It was here that, while Saul relieved himself in a cave, David spared the life of his enemy, only cutting off a corner of his robe instead of taking his life. For a moment there was peace between the two kings.

Not knowing the name Ein Gedi referred to the entire area, we chose one place out of many to spend our final day before the Last Day of Unleavened Bread, before we headed back to Tel Aviv to spend our last few days . Stella had already left the night before, but she had floated in the Dead Sea before. We chose a spa called Ein Gedi Baths just south of the Ein Gedi David most likely visited. We spent our day relaxing in the mineral waters of sulfur pools, covered in the rejuvenating salty mud, floating in the surreal waters of the sea itself, and generally enjoying each others' company. We were all glad to rest a while after our previous day, having hiked around Jerusalem till our bodies ached.
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