By Dr. Randall Smith
Courtesy of Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.
Ein Gedi is a tropical oasis rich in flora and fauna whose Hebrew name means, “spring of the young goat”. David fled to the caves of Ein Gedi when hiding from Saul:
“And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of En Gedi?. So Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and set out to look for David and his men near the Crags of the Wild Goats” [I Samuel 23:29; 24:1-2].
It is so beautiful that it is found in a poetic description in the Song of Songs, 1:14:
“My lover is to me a cluster of henna blossoms from the vineyards of En Gedi.”
In the Second Temple era, historian Josephus Flavius wrote that the persimmon plantations of Ein Gedi and Jericho provided the fruit for a perfume that, according to Cleopatra, drove men to madness.
During excavations at Ein Gedi a synagogue floor was uncovered, engraved with a unique warning: “whoever revealed the secret of this perfume?s production would be forever excommunicated from the House of Israel!”
The plantations were apparently uprooted during the Jewish revolt against the Romans (66-73 A.D.) and the plant is now extinct. Along with the Temple?s seven-branched candelabrum, the persimmon was later depicted in a victory arch in Rome (the Arch of Titus).
The environs of Ein Gedi are an ideal spot for meeting the ibex (mountain goats) of the Judean desert and for a refreshing swim in one of its many pools and under its ever-changing waterfalls.
© Christian Travel Study Programs, Ltd.