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Ein Gedi

David falls, Ein Gedi.
"The Window Dry fall", overlooking Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea, Israel.

Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי, Arabic: عين جدي‎) is an oasis and a nature reserve in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the Qumran Caves.


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Biblical era 2.1
    • Modern era 2.2
  • Ein Gedi nature reserve and national park 3
  • Kibbutz Ein Gedi 4
  • Shalom Marathon – Dead Sea Half Marathon 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Bibliography 8
  • External links 9


The name Ein Gedi is composed of two Hebrew words: ein means spring and gǝdi means goat-kid. Ein Gedi thus means "Kid spring." The word 'ain' or 'ein' (عين) also means spring in Arabic, and the word 'Gedi' or 'Jadi' also means a goat-kid in Arabic.


Biblical era

Mosaic from ancient Ein Gedi synagogue

In the 2 Chronicles 20:2 Ein Gedi is identified with Hazazon-tamar,[1] Hazezon Tamar,[2] Hatzatzon-Tamar [3] or Hazezontamar, where the Moabites and Ammonites gathered in order to fight King Josaphat. In Genesis 14:7 Hazazon-tamar is mentioned as being an Amorite city, smitten by Chedorlaomer in his war against the cities of the plain.

In Joshua 15:62, Ein Gedi is enumerated among the cities of the Tribe of Judah in the desert Betharaba, but Ezekiel 47:10 shows that it was also a fisherman's town. Later, King David hides in the desert of Ein Gedi (1 Samuel 24:1-2) and King Saul seeks him "even upon the most craggy rocks, which are accessible only to wild goats" ( 1 Samuel 24:2).

The Song of Songs (Songs 1:14) speaks of the "vineyards of En Gedi." The words of Ecclesiasticus 24:18, "I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades" (’en aígialoîs), may perhaps be understood of the palm trees of Ein Gedi.

The indigenous Jewish town of Ein Gedi was an important source of balsam for the Greco-Roman world until its destruction by Byzantine emperor Justinian as part of his persecution of the Jews in his realm. A synagogue mosaic remains from Ein Gedi's heyday, including a Judeo-Aramaic inscription warning inhabitants against "revealing the town's secret" – possibly the methods for extraction and preparation of the much-prized balsam resin, though not stated outright in the inscription – to the outside world.[4]

According to the Miholjanec legend, Stephen V of Hungary had in front of his tent a golden plate with the inscription: "Attila, the son of Bendeuci, grandson of the great Nimrod, born at Ein Gedi: By the Grace of God King of the Huns, Medes, Goths, Dacians, the horrors of the world and the scourge of God."""

According to the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus Flavius, the Sicarii, who fought the Romans until their defeat and mass suicide at the Siege of Masada, plundered local villages including En Gedi. At En Gedi, they drove out the defenders, and killed over seven hundred women and children who could not run away.[5][6][7]

Modern era

In April 1848, Lieutenant William Francis Lynch led an American expedition down the Jordan River into the Dead Sea, that stopped at En Gedi (Ain Jidy).[8]

In 1998–99, the archaeological expedition of Yizhar Hirschfeld at Ein Gedi systematically excavated what has been called "the Essenes site", first discovered by Yohanan Aharoni in 1956.[9]

Ein Gedi nature reserve and national park

Two Nubian Ibexes at Ein Gedi nature reserve

Ein Gedi nature reserve was declared in 1971[10] and is one of the most important reserves in Israel. The park is situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert, on the Dead Sea coast, and covers an area of 14000 dunams[10] (one modern dunam equals the area of one decare).

The elevation of the land ranges from the level of the Dead Sea at 423 meters (1,388 ft) below sea level to the plateau of the Judean Desert at 200 meters above sea level. Ein Gedi nature reserve includes two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot (German article at: Nachal Arugot). Two other springs, the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve. Together, the springs generate approximately three million cubic meters of water per year. Much of the water is used for agriculture or is bottled for consumption.

The reserve is a sanctuary for many types of plant, bird and animal species. The vegetation includes plants and trees from the tropical, desert, Mediterranean, and steppian regions, such as Sodom apple, acacia, jujube, and poplar. The many species of resident birds are supplemented by over 200 additional species during the migration periods in the spring and fall. Mammal species include the Nubian ibex and the rock hyrax.

The Ein Gedi national park features several archaeological sites including the Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi and a first-century CE village. The park was declared in 2002 and covers an area of 8 dunams.[10]

Kibbutz Ein Gedi

The Botanical Garden at kibbutz Ein Gedi.

Kibbutz Ein Gedi, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. The kibbutz area contains an internationally acclaimed botanical garden covering an area of 100 dunams (10 ha, 24.7 acres). There one can find more than 900 species of plants from all over the world. The kibbutz is also home to the Ein Gedi Eco Park, which functions as both a zoo and an environmental education center, demonstrating sustainable technologies such as solar cookers, grey water systems, mud buildings, and compost toilets.

Shalom Marathon – Dead Sea Half Marathon

The Ein Gedi race, also known as the Shalom Marathon – Dead Sea Half Marathon is a popular road running event over several distances that has been held by the Tamar Regional Council since 1983. The starting point for all races is the Ein Gedi Spa, 80 kilometers (50 mi) southeast of Jerusalem and 4 kilometers south of Kibbutz Ein Gedi.[11][12]

See also


  1. ^ e.g. ASV, NRSV and CEB
  2. ^ e.g. NKJV
  3. ^ e.g. CJB
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Wars of the Jews, or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem, by Flavius Josephus, translated by William Whiston, Project Gutenberg, Book IV, Chapter 7, Paragraph 2.
  6. ^ Flavius Josephus, De bello Judaico libri vii, B. Niese, Ed. J. BJ 4.7.2
  7. ^ Ancient battle divides Israel as Masada 'myth' unravels; Was the siege really so heroic, asks Patrick Cockburn in Jerusalem, The Independent, 30 March 1997
  8. ^
  9. ^ Jesus and Archaeology, page 389, James H. Charlesworth, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2006. ISBN 9780802848802
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ "Ein-Gedi Race"
  12. ^


  • Hirschfeld, Y. (ed.), Ein Gedi. ‘A Very Large Village of Jews’ (Hecht Museum, University of Haifa, 2006).

External links

  • Virtual Tour of Ein Gedi - View from the Ein Gedi Promenade
  • Ein Gedi in the Dead Sea Map - Bird's-eye view in Flash
  • The Israel Nature and Parks Authority - Site page
  • Ein Gedi Travel Guide
  • Pictures of Ein Gedi synagogue
  • Ein Gedi mill, 1893
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