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Day 6: Into the Desert

 
Sunrise from Masada

Sunrise from Masada
The Snake Path up Masada
Tabernacle Replica in the desert
Detail inside the Tabernacle


The intrepid started early this morning to climb Masada for sunrise. To make it in time for sunrise we had to be at the base of the snake trail at 5:30am when the gates opened. The hike to the top, which is a combination of stairs and switchbacks, took around an hour. It is a strenuous hike but well worth the effort: from the ruins of Masada we watched the sun peer out from the Jordanian mountains and spread across the Dead Sea. Even today, masada remains a holy place for Jews. In 73AD the Romans lay siege on the fort, which led to the mass suicide of 960 Jewish men, women and children. Because Judaism prohibits suicide, reports suggest that defenders drew lots to kill their own family, and then, in turn, each other.

We departed south, following the path of Lehi and his family, and talked at length about the dynamics of Lehi’s group—how many people were in the group, what they would have needed to travel in and survive in the desert, where they stayed, and how long they would have spent in each location. We also talked about references to metal in 1 Nephi. When you consider the many references together there is strong reason to suggest that Lehi was a trader in precious metals and that Nephi was very knowledgeable in metal and metalwork—so much so that when the Liahona first appeared outside of Lehi's tent, Laman and Lemuel accused Nephi of making it. Although we were running short on time, we had a quick tour of the Tabernacle replica in the desert near the Timna copper mines. This gave us a brief introduction to the rich symbolism in the Tabernacle and left us wanting more.

After crossing into Jordan we had views of the Red Sea and Saudi Arabia, where the Valley of Lemuel is located. We refueled with a quick falafel stop before heading into the desert of Wadi Rum. The afternoon was spent on 4WD touring the red landscape. In the evening we stayed in a desert camp for a small taste of Nephi's daily life as he and his family crossed the expansive Arabian Peninsula—a dusty and hot landscape almost completely devoid of water and vegetation. Even though we had restrooms, running water, and electricity, many people left with a new appreciation for the hardships of life in the desert . . .
Desert camp



Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum
Wadi Rum