Ein Gedi (Engedi – KJV)

Ein Gedi is the largest oasis situated in the wilderness of Judah along the
western shore of the Dead Sea, about 11 miles north of Masada. It was
also called Hazazontamar (i.e. division of the palms) due to the large
presence of palms in the area, and is allotted to the tribe of Judah (Josh.
15:1, 61-62).

Lesson from the Ibex

The name Ein Gedi means “spring of the young goat” in Hebrew ( ein
– spring; gedi – young goat). The “young goat” here refers to the
Nubian ibex which is commonly sighted in the region. The Nubian ibex is
a species of wild goat especially adapted to hot, arid and mountainous
regions. Their powerful and sturdy hind legs allow them to be
exceptionally agile, allowing them to navigate and live on the steep desert
mountain terrain. They can move up and down these sharp cliffs with
ease to avoid predators, and can use the hind legs to attack if necessary.
Sadly, as the ibex is often hunted, there are now less than 5000 mature
ibexes (or ibices) in the natural environment around the world today.

We saw a few ibexes in the Ein Gedi kibbutz where we were staying. We
were wondering how these animals entered the premises as the premises
was enclosed with a fence. Did they enter through the front entrance like
all the vehicles? The answer was later review by a video taken by one
couple among the pilgrims. The ibexes hopped over the fence! The
kibbutz fence was no match for their powerful hind legs.

The jumping ibex brings to mind Habakkuk 3:19 – “The LORD God is
my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make
me to walk upon mine high places.” While the hind here refers to a deer,
nevertheless the sight of the powerful “hind legs” of the gedi gives a
picture of how the Lord will strengthen and gird us even in the most
terrifying and trying terrains of life. The sovereign Lord is our strength.

The Lesson of the Falls of David

Ein Gedi was the place of refuge for David as he was fleeing from King
Saul (1 Sam. 23:29). Before David reached Ein Gedi, he had several close
encounters where he could have perished at the hands of Saul. The first
encounter was the betrayal of the men of Keilah (1 Sam. 23:1-15) even
though David had saved Keilah from the Philistines. The second
encounter was the treachery of the Ziphites who gave information of
David’s hiding place to Saul (1 Sam. 23:19-24). However, the Lord did
not deliver David into the hand of Saul as He intended David to be the
king of Israel ( c. f. v. 14 “ but God delivered him not into his
hand”). Lastly, Saul pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon. The
account of David’s providential escape is as such – “And Saul went on
this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of
the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for
Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take
them.But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and
come; for the Philistines have invaded the land. Wherefore Saul
returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines:
therefore they called that place Selahammahlekoth.” (1 Sam. 23:26-28)
This bought David enough time to flee to Ein Gedi.

The caves of Ein Gedi thus became God’s wonderful providence and
deliverance for David from the fierce pursuit. The caves on the cliffs
became God’s strongholds for David. Not only did the numerous crevices
serve as hiding places for David and his men, but the waterfalls in the
caves provided refreshing water, and served to cool the temperature of an
otherwise inclement weather.

It was in one of these caves in Ein Gedi that David was presented with a
chance to kill Saul and put a swift end to his predicament. The account is
given to us in 1 Samuel 24:1-8. “And it came to pass, when Saul was
returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying,
Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. Then Saul took three
thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his
men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he came to the sheepcotes by
the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and
David and his men remained in the sides of the cave.And the men of
David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee,
Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do
to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the
skirt of Saul’s robe privily. And it came to pass afterward, that David’s
heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt.And he said unto
his men, The LORD forbid that I should do this thing unto my master,
the LORD’S anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he
is the anointed of the LORD. So David stayed his servants with these
words, and suffered them not to rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out
of the cave, and went on his way. David also arose afterward, and went
out of the cave, and cried after Saul, saying, My lord the king. And
when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the earth,
and bowed himself.

Why did David’s heart smite within him? In the days of yore, the
expression “holding the hem of the king’s garment” is used to signify
loyalty to him. The cutting of the king’s hem was tantamount to claiming
rebellion against the king, which would have been displeasing to the Lord
since Saul was the Lord’s anointed, and thus the master which the Lord
has appointed over David. By cutting the hem of the king, David was
taking matters into his own hands when all along he had left it to the
Lord. Deliverance is of the Lord and must be according to God’s timing.

Whenever we are in trouble, let us remember the Lord will vindicate in
His good time and wisdom. Never take matters into our hands, nor behave
untoward to any men including those who may persecute us.

The Future of Ein Gedi

It is interesting to note that in the future, the waters of Ein Gedi will be
used for the healing of the dead sea. Following the splitting of the Mount
of Olives with Christ’s return (see Zech. 14), the geography of the land
will change. In the Millennium, the waters will issue out of the east gate
of the temple, and will travel all the way to Ein Gedi, and to the Dead Sea
(Eze. 47:1-12). There will now be freshwater both at Ein Gedi and the
Dead Sea, which will be teeming with fish. Nevertheless, a large portion
of the salt areas will be preserved. “Then said he unto me, These waters
issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go
into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be
healed.And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which
moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there
shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come
thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the
river cometh. And it shall come to pass, that the fishers shall stand upon
it from Engedi even unto Eneglaim; they shall be a place to spread forth
nets; their fish shall be according to their kinds, as the fish of the great
sea, exceeding many.” (Ezek. 47:8-10) How fitting it is that with the
return of the Living Saviour, the Dead Sea becomes the Living Sea! May
more receive Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew