The Importance of Water - Israel Day 3
Today's blog post was written by Dan Seely, graduate of VBTS and missionary in Cameroon.
What a strange and enlightening experience to literally step back thousands of years in time - which is exactly what we did at the city of Arad. Though the original Canaanite city dates back before the time of Abraham, these ancient people were anything but primitive, having built an amazing planned city including an entire road system and a deep cistern capable of holding an enormous amount of water - a crucial element in such a hot, arid climate.
Arad first becomes significant in the Biblical record when the King of Arad came out against Moses and the Israelites to prevent them from passing through the land as they came up out of Egypt. In the remains of Arad we see evidence of the city being active as late as the period of the divided kingdom, having a complete temple patterned after the temple in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, this temple shows that Israel had turned away from God, abandoning the temple in Jerusalem and adopting many of the local Canaanite practices as evidenced by sacred stones to Yahweh and his Asherah (wife) in the most holy place of the temple.
Having spent the last two days in the wilderness and seeing the importance of water to life, the sites at Arad make the words of Jeremiah 2 come alive: "Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lord, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." Israel's forsaking of the true worship of Yahweh was tantamount to spiritual suicide, much as leaving a spring for a broken cistern would be physical suicide. We saw this clearly in the ruins of Arad - a place inhabited only by the foxes that were running around on the ruins of the city.
From Arad we traveled to Beersheba, the southernmost city of ancient Israel. Here again we were reminded of the importance of water in a city known for its wells which served both Abraham and Isaac. We even saw an ancient well of incredible depth, possibly even used by the patriarchs themselves, and explored the underground cistern system to store water for times of drought.
From Beersheba our trip took a decidedly different turn as we went down to Ashkelon, a city built on the Mediterranean Sea. This strategic city changed hands many times as evidenced by the ruins from the times of the Crusades, the Roman Empire, the Philistine conquest, as well as an impressive, largely intact Canaanite city gate dating back to the time of Jacob!
After checking into our hotel in Ashkelon we enjoyed a cool, refreshing swim in the beautiful Mediteranean Sea followed by another wonderful dinner together and a good night of sleep after watching the sun set over the Med.
What a wonderful blessing we have been given to see these sites and to understand the Scriptures in new and marvelous ways. Praise be to Yahweh.