NEGEV AND EILAT
Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, the Sinai Desert, the Moab Mountains, and the Judean Desert, the Negev, comprising more than 50% of Israel’s landmass, is the gateway to the desert. The Negev Desert possesses a variety of natural facets and resources, such as stark mountains, hidden wadis, cratered canyons, and sand dunes. It’s a very popular tourism site.
Some people experience their strongest sense of the Bible when they see the Bedouin, traditionally pastoral nomadic Arab tribes engaged in herding, agriculture, and sometimes fishing, also earning their income by transporting goods and people across the desert, living in the Negev region and existing similarly to Abraham’s lifestyle 4,000 years ago. The scarcity of water and lack of permanent pastoral land forces them to move constantly, just as our forefathers wandered in the desert from oasis to oasis. The Bedouin encampments have not changed much since Abraham dwelled in the desert and welcomed his three honored guests to his tent.
Today, the Negev exposes a fascinating range of ancient highways, uncovered fortresses, springs, and the remains of agricultural compounds. Shivta, an ancient city in the Negev, also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, long considered a classic Nabataean town along the famous spice route, currently newly-considered to be a Byzantine agricultural colony and way-station for pilgrims journeying to Saint Catherine’s Monastery, merits a visit.
Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, made his home in the Negev, promoting the settlement of this region which is defined by the small quantities of rain that fall here. He envisioned fulfillment of Bible prophecy, “Desert and wasteland shall rejoice over them, and the plain shall rejoice and shall blossom like a rose. It shall blossom and rejoice, even to rejoice and to sing; the glory of the Lebanon has been given to her, the beauty of the Karmel and the Sharon; they shall see the glory of the Lord, the beauty of our God.” (Isaiah 35:1-2) (CJB). Today, Israel’s desert blossoms with the world-famous Ben Gurion University of the Negev, agricultural advancements, luscious and vibrantly-colored flowers and red anemones, and the developing tourism industry, making it possible and popular to explore by jeep, ATVs, bicycles, camel, horseback, motorcycles, or on foot. Clearly, Ben-Gurion was quite the visionary!
Eilat is situated on the coast of the amazing Red Sea and is considered to be the foremost resort city in Israel amongst all of Israel’s other resort towns. It is a sun-drenched paradise boasting its richly-laden luxury hotel promenade, excellent restaurants, and sparkling beaches with myriad attractions, activities, and opportunities to ‘get away from it all.’ The Queen of Sheba once arrived here on her historic visit to King Solomon. The world’s only biblical Wild Park and the geological wonders of King Solomon’s Mines are one of the many colorfully-attractive options to explore.
Eilat is also the perfect place for swimming, water skiing, boating, and its main attraction: diving in one of the world’s most stunning underwater preserves. With beautiful weather year-round, Eilat is truly a tourist gem in Israel.