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It is known for its caves, springs, and its rich diversity of flora and fauna. Ein Gedi is mentioned several times in biblical writings, for example, in the Song of Songs; "My beloved is unto me as a cluster of henna flowers in the vineyards of Ein Gedi" (1:14). According to Jewish tradition, David hid from Saul in the caves here; "And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of Ein Gedi" (1 Samuel 24:1).
A kibbutz, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. Prior to the founding of the kibbutz, the Ein Gedi area had not been permanently inhabited for 500 years.
Ein Gedi National Park
Ein Gedi National Park was founded in 1972 and is one of the most important reserves in Israel. The park is situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert, on the Dead Sea coast, and covers an area of 6,250 acres (25 km2). The elevation of the land ranges from the level of the Dead Sea at 418 meters (1,371 ft) below sea level to the plateau of the Judean Desert at 200 meters above sea level.
Ein Gedi National Park includes two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nachal David (David Stream) and Nachal Arugot (Arugot Stream). Two other springs, the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve. Together, the springs generate approximately three million cubic meters of water per year. Much of the water is used for agriculture or is bottled for consumption.
The park is a sanctuary for many types of plant, bird and animal species. The vegetation includes plants and trees from the tropical, desert, Mediterranean, and steppian regions, such as Sodom apple, acacia, jujube, and poplar. The many species of resident birds are supplemented by over 200 additional species during the migration periods in the spring and fall. Mammal species include the ibex and the hyrax.
In Second Book of Chronicles it is identified with Asasonthamar (Cutting of the Pain), the city of the Amorrhean, smitten by Chedorlaomer in his war against the cities of the plain. Book of Joshua enumerates Ein Gedi among the cities of the Tribe of Judah in the desert Betharaba, but the Book of Ezekiel shows that it was also a fisherman's town. Later on, King David hides in the desert of Engaddi and King Saul seeks him "even upon the most craggy rocks, which are accessible only to wild goats". Again, it is in Ein Gedi that the Moabites and Ammonites gather in order to fight against Josaphat and to advance against Jerusalem "by the ascent named Sis". Finally, Song of Solomon speaks of the "vineyards of Engaddi"; the words, "I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades" (’en aígialoîs), which occur in Ecclus., xxiv, 18, may perhaps be understood of the palm trees of Ein Gedi.
The indigenous Jewish town of Ein Gedi was an important source of balsam for the Greco-Roman world until its destruction by Byzantine emperor Justinian as part of his persecution of the Jews in his realm. A beautiful synagogue mosaic remains from Ein Gedi's heyday, including a Judeo-Aramaic inscription warning inhabitants against "revealing the town's secret" – possibly the methods for extraction and preparation of the much-prized balsam resin, though not stated outright in the inscription – to the outside world.
- ↑ xx, 2
- ↑ Genesis 14:7
- ↑ xv, 62
- ↑ xlvii, 10
- ↑ 1 Samuel 24:1, 2
- ↑ ibid., 3
- ↑ 2 Chronicles 20:1, 2
- ↑ ibid., 16
- ↑ i, 13
- ↑ Autry, Jaxon B. (December 2001). "Lynch's Holy Expedition to the Dead Sea and the Surrounding Area". http://chass.colostate-pueblo.edu/history/seminar/lynch/autry.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ein Gedi|
- Virtual Tour of Ein Gedi - View from the Ein Gedi Promenade
- Ein Gedi in the Dead Sea Map - Bird's-eye view in Flash
- The Israel Nature and Parks Authority - Site page
- Pictures of Ein Gedi synagogue
- "Engaddi". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05428a.htm.