Holy Land Pilgrimage | Ideas for a memorable tour

 

HOME
BIBLE REFERENCES
BOOK GILA
GILA’S GIFT SHOP
HOLY LAND HEADLINERS
HOLY LAND HEROINES
HOLY SITES:
GILA’S HIGHLIGHTS
SONGS & PRAISE
TIPS FOR TOURS
ABOUT GILA
CONTACT
 
 
 


"
AND THE LORD’S ANGER WAS KINDLED AGAINST ISRAEL, AND
HE MADE THEM WANDER IN THE WILDERNESS FORTY YEARS,
UNTIL ALL THE GENERATION THAT HAD DONE EVIL IN THE SIGHT
OF THE LORD WAS CONSUMED"                        NUMBERS 32:13


Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's wander in the Wilderness of Zin

Imagine, forty years in the wilderness in the same outfit -- with the same people, with a monotonous diet of quails and manna, never knowing what the future had in store.  Just that according to your grandfather and great-grandfather, the beckoning Promised Land was filled with milk and honey.

But what was it really like -- the environment of this “great wilderness” – that taught the children of Israel an unparalleled lesson in humility that has resounded down the ages?  This is what we set out to experience on our adventure in the Negev's Wilderness of Zin.  Numbers 20:1 tells us, “The entire Israelite community entered the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and they settled in Kadesh.”  Many scholars believe that the Israelites were in fact in the Wilderness of Zin for a total of thirty eight years, with the actual “wandering” taking place over a span of two years.
 

Wandering through the Zin riverbed

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Wandering through the Zin riverbed

 
By open safari vehicle, with the fearless photographers sitting at each end of six rows to get an unimpeded view of the terrain, we travel along a two-mile stretch of the Zin riverbed.  We stop to explore the oases of Ein Zik and Ein Akab with their hidden pools of water and lush vegetation.  If we are visiting at the end of a particularly rainy winter, just before the hot winds of spring, we are sure to enjoy a visual feast of wildflowers.
 

Wilderness Wildlife

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Wilderness Wildlife

 
This is a day to experience the context of the Israelite sojourn, rather than the geography of particular sites.  The Wilderness of Zin is where Miriam, Moses’ elder sister died and where the Israelites challenged Moses and Aaron to justify why they had been liberated from slavery, only to perish in the wilderness. (Numbers 20)

We also deal with the mindset of the patriarchs, since Abraham passed through this very place on his journey to Egypt, where he presented Sarah as his sister to Pharaoh, who then took Sarah into his own household. (Genesis 12)  We talk about Abraham as a man of the world, and discuss whether his motives went beyond saving his own skin.

“Our safari in the Desert of Zin brought to life the story of Abraham,” testified one participant from San Diego, CA.  “The vast open spaces and the bright light of dark shadows brought into vivid relief the personality of the man who stands at the center of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  I felt overwhelmed by the beauty and the power of the rugged landscape!”

 

the stark Wilderness of Zin

Photo:  C. B. Edgar

"Shooting" the forbidding wilderness

 
Bill Moyers, in his PBS TV program “Genesis,” has a wonderful take on this episode.  He says, “God is founding a dynasty, the beginnings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.  One might expect the storyteller to paint the First Family ten feet tall with several coats of whitewash.  But the picture we get of these men and women is uncomfortably human.  There is so much martial conflict and sibling intrigue they almost forfeit the call and fumble the promise.  Yet the storyteller refuses to clean up their act.”
 

SIGN UP for the FREE bimonthly e-letter:
"Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights"

 
And here’s yet another take on the first family in the wilderness by limerick writer
D. R. Bensen,

“Sara felt sore as a boil
That the son of a slave doomed to toil
Should share Isaac’s lands –
‘Let him live in the sands!’
(Underneath which lay oceans of oil.)”

 

Yankele Geva guiding in the Wilderness of Zin

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Our driver Yankele sharing his passion for the wilderness

 
While Yankele, our driver, and I prepare a wilderness buffet which encompasses nearly everything but quails and manna, the tour leader sketches a profile of Miriam, or reflects upon the impact of the wilderness experience in Christianity.  Creative Bible teacher Kevin Saunders noted that people had asked about snakes in the wilderness.  Kevin recalled Moses’ fear of snakes (Exodus 4) and taught Numbers 21 and Jesus’ discussion with Nicodemus in John 3.

If you’d like your group to experience this extraordinary day during your Holy Land pilgrimage, be sure to contact me while you are in the early stages of planning your itinerary.

Postscript

In the late 1980s, Dale Nystrom of IGM Tours enthusiastically supported my colleagues’ (Steve Langfur, Jackie Feldman, Yankele Geva) and my endeavors to craft a “wilderness experience” for our pilgrims.  The following is Dale’s response to “Let’s wander in the Wilderness of Zin,”

 

“Some pastors may choose to reflect on Jesus and John the Baptist in the wilderness.  ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness,’ makes me think of the vast wildernesses to today’s relationships.  The great challenge in this wilderness may be to find clear and precise voices without dogmatism. Or borrowed ideas.

Consider Jesus’ elongated period in the wilderness.  The great challenge to many is not finding food or water.  The ancients knew where the water and food were.  The great challenge was to find the way in the wilderness.  The WAY was important to Jesus who astounded some with his insistence “I am the Way, the truth and the life.”  Is it not in the wilderness experiences of life that we discover who we really are, and who our God really is?”            Pastor Dale Nystrom, Castro Valley, CA

Testimonials on the Wilderness of Zin day from pastors and participants plus stunning photos.
 

More Wilderness

 
Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

Discovery of Herod's Tomb at Herodion

The Epiphany in the Wilderness of Judea

Cave #4 at Qumran   

Herodion & Herod's tomb

The Epiphany

     
Let's spy out Jericho

Last defenders of Masada

Jericho / Mt of Temptation   

Masada

Hike the old Jericho Road

 
Gila Yudkin, who calls herself a former Connecticut Yankee living now in King David's Court, has been guiding since 1978.  She designed the "Wilderness of Zin" experience with Yankele Geva in 2004.  Gila thrives on showing veteran tour leaders new, authentic, biblical sites.  Give her an opportunity and your sermons will be enriched and your colleagues envious....
 
"Let's wander in the Wilderness of Zin" (as text without the photos) is one in the series of free bimonthly e-letters sent on request to tour leaders, pastors, clergy, teachers, Bible students, colleagues and friends.  If you'd like to receive "Holy Sites: Gila's Highlights" every other month, please contact Gila.  The last highlight was "Let's ascend the cliff of the scapegoat."  This month's highlight is "Let's hear the call to Samuel at Shiloh."  The next highlight will be "Let's overlook the site of Jacob's wrestling match."
 

Copyright 2005, 20011 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


GILA YUDKIN TCHERNIKOVSKI 64A JERUSALEM ISRAEL
gila@itsgila.com

HOME GILA'S GIFT SHOP   TIPS FOR TOURS  ABOUT GILA


 

Copyright © 2005-2017 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin