Qumran is the ancient community located on the north-western shore of the Dead Sea and dates as far back as 8th century B.C.E. The Essenes are believed to have arrived in the 2nd century B.C.E. They formed their own rule of life centered around ritual purification. In addition to baths, a central dining hall, pottery workshop, assembly halls, they had a scriptorium where they scribed scrolls found later in caves. In Cave 4 were discovered parts of the Isaiah scrolls and thousands of other pieces of their writings. There we read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the separation of Abraham and Lot (Genesis 19). Some of these stories are hard--hard to imagine why people did what they did and hard to ponder God's actions.
We left the heaviness of that Biblical story and had a relaxing float in the Dead Sea. The water is all shades of blue and green. It's beautiful, and nothing can survive in this water. It surprises you with the ease of floating and the delight it brings to people. There are all sorts of Palm date trees nearby growing. The Dead Sea water is sadly receding and additional water is being routed in. What a delight of a day beginning in the desert and ending in the Dead Sea. The essence of two kinds of water--life giving water from Jesus and this strange understanding of beautiful water in which nothing can live.