One of the simultaneously best and worst experiences of my life was hiking the Israel Trail.  I led a group of intrepid adventurers on a 120-mile hike, beginning in Dan and concluding in Caesarea Israel Trail marker at Machtesh Ramon, tb110702007(skipping a 30-mile section in the middle).  I’ve hiked many other portions of the trail over the years.  The trail covers some of most beautiful and remote scenery, and it is a way to understand the land of Israel that you’ll never get from jumping on and off a bus.  It also can be quite a painful experience for your feet. 

An Israeli couple recently hiked the entire trail from Eilat to Dan (580 miles) and the wife wrote a book about the 2-month trek.  The book, Walk the Land, was recently reviewed by Theresa Newell of CMJ USA (pdf, p. 21).  The review begins:

“What is needed by the reader or teacher of the Bible is some idea of the outlines of Palestine – its shape and disposition; its plains, passes and mountains; its rains, winds and temperatures; its colours, lights and shades. Students of the Bible desire to see a background and to feel an atmosphere; to discover from `the lie of the land’ why the history took certain lines and the prophecy and gospel were expressed in certain styles; to learn what geography has to contribute …” (From the 1894 Preface to the First Edition of The Historical Geography of the Holy Land, by George Adam Smith.)

Over a hundred years later, Judy Pex brings the reader through those very “plains, passes and mountains” about which Smith wrote. Step by step from Eilat to Mt. Hermon on The Israel Trail, Pex describes her country from the ground up.
Judy and John Pex have overseen The Shelter Hostel in Eilat for over 20 years. They lead an international congregation there which grew out of their work of serving soup dinners and giving backpackers a place for overnights. It is a 24/7 kind of job.
Their dream grew over the years: to walk the entire Israel National Trail (Shvil Israel) – a feat accomplished by only about 100 people per year. John decided it had to be done before his 60th birthday! And they did it – all winding 940 km (580 miles) from Eilat to Dan. The Trail meanders through the vast wadis and heights of the Negev, then cuts west to the Mediterranean near Tel Aviv along busy roads, up the coast and across the Carmel Range, ending on Mt. Hermon at the Syrian-Lebanese border. The map and 16 pages of Pex’s color photos augment her descriptive passages.

There is also an interview with the author here.

The book sounds like a profitable way to gain insights from the trip without having to wrap your feet in duct tape every morning.

HT: Yehuda Group


I have been alerted to a new resource which may be very helpful for researchers.  From their description:

The Graduate Junction is a brand new website designed to help early career researchers make contact with others with similar research interests, regardless of which department, institution or country they work in. Designed by two graduate researchers at the University of Durham, The Graduate Junction has proved very popular with research students and academics alike. Within the first two weeks after our launch in early May 2008 over 2000 researchers in the UK had registered and the news had spread across 40 countries. Currently research students have two main sources of information, published literature and academic conferences. Whilst published literature is essential, it can only ever reveal completed work. Relevant academic conferences provide a forum for students with similar research interest to interact but occur infrequently. It is very easy to become isolated, overly focused on the specifics of one’s own work and lose a sense of what other related work is being done. The Graduate Junction hopes to prevent that isolation and allow early career researchers to start forming the networks which can stay with them throughout their careers. The Graduate Junction aims to provide an atmosphere similar to that at academic events and through the use of the internet aims to establish an on-line worldwide graduate research community.

This could be a great way to connect with those working in your field.  Check it out here.


En Gedi, the oasis on the western shore of the Dead Sea, may be a more enjoyable place to visit in the future.  From the JPost:

The Ein Gedi stream started flowing on Monday for the first time in 50 years, following an agreement signed in May 2007 between Kibbutz Ein Gedi and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. The agreement stipulates that the kibbutz must let water flow from the Ein Gedi spring into the stream before drawing it for kibbutz use. The agreement also limits the amount of water that the kibbutz may use, thereby increasing the flow from the spring to the stream. The stream dried up in the 1950s because those developing the kibbutz needed its water for agriculture. After that, until the signing of the agreement, the kibbutz drew water directly from the spring, which was the stream’s source. The Ein Gedi water company also drew from the spring prior to the deal. “We didn’t deal with the principal question of whether the kibbutz needed to get this water,” said Omri Gal, an assistant spokesperson for INPA. “We took as a given that the kibbutz needed that water. Our goal was to lessen the damage to the water. The previous situation was unacceptable, and the stream was a tragedy.” Several months later, after the kibbutz dismantled its water-drawing facilities, water has begun to flow down the stream at a rate of 10 meters per second, a number that should rise to 25 by the time the process is completed. Though the Ein Gedi water, if not drawn, would flow to the Dead Sea, Gal said that its reaching the stream brought tremendous benefit to the surrounding area, as well as to the government agency that protects it. “This is an amazing thing for the environment,” he said. “Ein Gedi is an important natural area. There have been guards working there for 30 years, and for them this is a holiday.”

The story continues here and ends with this line:

“Ein Gedi used to be unique,” said Gal. “We want to revive the flora and bring back the water. It will look like it did in days of old.”

You can read (and see) more about En Gedi at this BiblePlaces page.