Glimpses of Israel - The Arava

by Joseph Hunting

The Arava plain in Israel is part of the Great Rift Valley which commences in upper Galilee. The Great Rift extends south to the Red Sea and emerges again in North Africa where it extends southward for several hundred miles.

The river Jordan flows south along the Great Rift and empties into the Sea of Galilee. The Jordan continues its journey south and flows finally into the Dead Sea. The Rift Valley then becomes known as the Arava plain and extends southward to the Red Sea.

This was the wilderness in which the Children of Israel spent much of their forty years before entering their Promised Land. One can only marvel at their preservation under such conditions -- so many of them and for so long. Their redemption from slavery in Egypt was just the beginning of a series of miracles, including the daily supply of manna until they crossed over Jordan to possess their promised possession.

Toward the sun-rising are the mountains of Moab and the territory which the Lord gave to Esau. To the west lies the Negev, a wilderness that is gradually being transformed through Israeli technology.

In ancient times the Arava was the overland route used by merchants and traders to bring the gold, spices and exotic resins and gums from India and East Africa to adorn Solomon's Temple. Not far from Solomon's port at Eilat is the evidence of Solomon's copper mines at Timna.

It was in this rift in the earth's surface that the infant nation of Israel was transformed from a nation of slaves to the nation that learned to trust God implicitly.

Surely the most amazing military campaign in history occurred when the walls of Jericho fell down flat "when the people shouted and the priests blew with trumpets." Later Joshua commanded the sun to stand still in the heavens, "so the sun stood still in the midst of heaven and hasted not to go down about a whole day" until Joshua had defeated the Canaanites.