|The Dead Sea
As you drive less than five miles east of Jerusalem you begin to observe a marked difference in the countryside. You quickly move from the populated hill country of Jerusalem into very sparsely populated desert country. About the only inhabitants of this country are the Bedouin tribes living in tents. They move with the seasons and live almost exclusively on their flocks of sheep and goats. The largest concentration today are seen along side the desert canyons between Jerusalem and Jericho.
About 25-30 miles east of Jerusalem you can see the city of Jericho off to the north. At this same point, off to the northeast, you see the oasis where John is believed to have baptized in the Jordan river. Notice in the photographs below the camels moving freely in this area on the northern edge of the Dead Sea. You then turn south and travel along the western edge of the Dead Sea.
The Dead Sea is the terminating point of the Jordan river which begins in the northern most point of Israel at Mt. Hermon, runs through the Sea of Galilee, and then runs due south along the eastern boundary of Israel for a length of about 70 miles before it flows into the Dead Sea. The sea itself then is about 50 miles long and 2-3 miles wide but has no outlet. As a result, the process of evaporation creates a body of water so high in salt and mineral content that no aquatic life is possible. Today, the Dead Sea is 411 meters below sea level which makes it the lowest point on the earth.
Qumran, where the dead sea scrolls were found in 1947 is located at the far northwest corner of the sea.
Masada is about 30 miles south along the western shore, and is located on the top of a very large plateau that overlooks the sea. Masada was a fortress originally developed by Herod the Great in 43 BC. It was taken from the Romans by the Jewish rebels in 70 AD and was successfully held by them for three years after the fall of Jerusalem. During Passover in AD 74 while Masada was under siege by the Roman armies, 960 Jewish people committed suicide to avoid being taken over by the soldiers. Masada is also the site of some of the more recent finds of the Dead Sea scrolls.
Photographs - Dead Sea Area
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