What can one do when in Jerusalem on the Sabbath, assuming that one is not observing the sabbath oneself (or at least not strictly)? A trip to the Dead Sea is an option. I took a tour through Mike’s Center, which I had already heard of and was considering, and just happened across yesterday when I was leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
The first stop was Qumran, and although there was an introductory film, it jumped right in with a fictional tale of a person’s life there, including the assumption that John the Baptist had spent some time there. Since we were lacking a tour guide, I did the honors, and so I can now add Qumran tour guide to the list of things I have done, if only once in an unofficial capacity.
It is an amazing place, with so many indications of Herod’s intention that it serve as a place of luxury, even though it is perhaps more famous for having been the final holdout of the first Jewish war against Rome.
Some struggled with the walk down the difficult Snake Path, a rocky winding descent. But then spending some time floating in the Dead Sea refreshed us (I think I can safely speak for the others who were on the me tour with me).
After that we went to Jericho, where I had a delicious lunch at the Temptation Restaurant (an all-you-can-eat buffet of Middle Eastern food), visited a sycamore tree allegedly climbed by Zaccheus, and finally Tel es-Sultan, the occupation mound of historic Jericho, whose walls came tumbling down, even if it had nothing to do with Joshua or invading Israelites.