Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus
 

A Trip to the Wadi Murabba’at Caves and the Qumran

 
 

Report by Gustavo Ramirez
On the road again!   The awaited Thursday is here and we are ready to go.  Where to this time?  Wadi Murabba’at caves and Qumran. We began our trip towards these two places in a kind of quite mood, expectant of the spectacle of views we were promised to see. The Murabba’at caves are situated 18 kilometers from Qumran, also in the northern Judean desert near the shores of the Dead Sea. We started our ascent toward the caves and just half way up we made our first stop. This was only a preview of how the Dead Sea serves as a backdrop to these amazing desert mountains. We continued and finally arrived at the top of the hill; there we started the walk toward the caves.   It was here in these caves that Jewish fighters hid out during the Bar Kochba revolt, leaving behind documents that include some letters signed by Simon Bar Kochba. We started the descent of two hundred meters to find the caves situated side by side.  Another wonder of nature and rightly so, a perfect hiding place, we walked into one of the caves to inspect its depth, although there are no writings on the walls or any sign of recent use, we learned that remains were discovered that reflected habitation, usually temporary, during the Chalcolithic Period, the Bronze Age , the Iron Age and the Roman era. We continued our journey towards the bottom of the canyon and found a place where we sat to reflect on the significance of these places to our faith.  This was my favorite part of this stop, silence time!  We were instructed to be quiet and still for some time to allow the silence to talk to us and to take in the experience of being there.  After this we headed back for the ascent to the top of the hill where the bus awaited to take us to our next destination; Qumran.  After a short eighteen kilometer drive we arrived at Qumran.  As it was getting late, we stopped to enjoy a delicious lunch in an environment of community and camaraderie.

Finally, we began our tour of Qumran, starting with a short video that showed the way the inhabitants of this place lived.  It gave us a glance of their customs and their rituals, which led to the showing of the great discovery done in 1947 “the Dead sea Scrolls”.  These scrolls, hidden in jars for nearly two thousand years and preserved as a result of the area’s climate, included books of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha and the sect’s own works.  Following the video we explored the site looking at the aqueduct, the tower, and the many purification baths, ending with a quick look at the cemetery.  The sites of Qumran and the Murabba’at caves once again prove to us, the importance of the early civilizations, the perfection of God’s creation and the incredible connection we have with these ancient civilizations.

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