The Oasis Of En Gedi

by David Padfield

En Gedi, Israel on Dead Sea

About 35 miles south of Jerusalem, on the western shore of the Dead Sea, you will find the oasis of En Gedi. Just 20 miles north of En Gedi is the ancient community of Qumran where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. Ten miles south of En Gedi is the great rock fortress of Masada, built by Herod the Great.

It was in this rugged area of the Wilderness of Judea that 3,000 years ago David hid when King Saul was attempting to hunt him down and take his life (1 Sam. 23:29-24:1).

The cliffs at En Gedi soar nearly 1600 feet above the base. There is an abundance of fresh water at En Gedi, for nearly 400 feet above the base of the cliff there is a hot spring pouring forth water. This oasis is rich in semitropical vegetation, and at one time palms probably grew here, for the ancient name of the place was Hazezon Tamar ("pruning of palms"). In the Song of Solomon the author speaks of his beloved who was like "a cluster of henna blooms in the vineyards of En Gedi" (Song 1:14).

In the midst of the harsh desert this oasis attracts wildlife such as ibex and the small furry hyrax. It has been reported that leopards live in the area, but they are never seen in the nature reserve around En Gedi itself.

The stream that is formed by the waterfall is called Nahal David (David's Stream), in honor of the second king of ancient Israel.