Ein Gedi

On the edge of the Dead Sea in Southern Israel is the desert oasis of Ein Gedi, it is the largest oasis along the western shore. The verdant oasis is blessed with the perennial fresh springs which flow down from the mountain tops of the Judean Desert. This fresh water source is what has kept Ein Gedi continually inhabited since the Chalcolithic Age.

Ein Gedi, the Bible and History

Ein Gedi field schoolEin Gedi is mentioned several times in the Bible first identified as Hazazon-Tamar (Chronicles II 20:2) and as an Amorite city (Genesis 14:7). In Joshua 15:62 it is named as one of the cities belonging to the Tribe of Judah and in Ezekiel it is mentioned as a fishing town. It was here that King David hid from King Saul (Samuel I) and the “vineyards of Ein Gedi” are named in the Song of Songs.

At Ein Gedi a pagan temple complex has been discovered dating back to the 4th millennium BC, the dry desert conditions helped to preserve it for so many years. Further archeological findings revealed a settlement from the 7th century BC. It consisted of a small village, Tel Goren, and artifacts were found from this period. The village grew and prospered through the Persian Period and Herodian Period when a citadel was constructed. Under the Romans a water system, store rooms, streets and dwellings were constructed. The community was considered valuable, not only as a point along the trade route, but for the tropical plants cultivated here and used to produce perfumes (Balsam) and medicines. Following the Jewish Rebellion against the Romans the village was abandoned in 70AD. Further excavations revealed evidence of an Essene Sect monastic site. The discovery of the remains of a synagogue, with a beautiful floor mosaic confirmed that the town had been home to a Jewish community during the Roman Era.

What to See and Do in Ein Gedi

ein gedi

  • Visit the Ein Gedi National Park. Follow the paths along Nahal David and Nahal Arugot, the rivers which run through the canyons. Along the water’s edge is lush vegetation and rare desert animals like the ibex and golden spiny mouse. You can swim in the water at certain point along the way. There are facilities, a cafĂ© and a souvenir shop at the entrance.
  • Visit Kibbutz Ein Gedi where you can see the botanical gardens full of over 900 exotic plants, cacti and baobab trees. There are accommodation options on the kibbutz. While on the kibbutz visit The Balcony, an observation point overlooking Ein Gedi.
  • Across the road from the Nature Reserve and kibbutz is the Dead Sea and a convenient beach with facilities where you can access the water.
  • The Ein Gedi Sea of Spa is a health center established in 1963 around the natural hot springs. They have 6 thermo-mineral pools and access to the Dead Sea. It is situated 2.5km from Kibbutz Ein Gedi.
  • See the synagogue floor mosaic from the Roman and Byzantine Eras (3rd-6th century AD). The site is shaded by a large brown tent covering and is surrounded by a palm grove. See the adjacent Palm House, built exclusively from parts of the palm tree. Inside you can see examples of the uses of palm trees.