Water in the desert


Only a few miles east of Bethlehem is the desert, a dry and empty land without water. The Judean Desert separates the highlands of Judah from the Dead Sea. It is a hostile environment, where life is harsh. Few people live there today. Few people lived there in the past. But people travelled through this desert. Archaeologists have found evidence of forts and even some desert agriculture during the times when the oases near the Dead Sea where most heavily populated—the late Iron Age (the final days of Judah) and during the Roman and Roman-Byzantine times. These forts protected paths through the desert, provided waypoints for the travellers.
Water is a constant problem in the desert. People collected it in cisterns. There are a few wells. But thirst is a constant companion. You need to know the way to water, need to know where it is stored.

These camels are on their way to a water tank in the Judean Desert. Even camels thirst. As they got closer to the water tank they broke into a run. Here in the desert water is precious and in the searing heat you soon know what it really means to be thirsty.

A psalm of David when he was in the desert of Judah.
God, you are my God.
I search for you.
I thirst for you
like someone in a dry, empty land
where there is no water.
Psalm 63:1

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