Monday, 30 April 2012

How green is my valley




The human eye can discern approximately twice as many tones of green than it can of red or blue. That's why greens generally appear subtle whilst blues and reds can be more in your face. When you spend a few days in the desert all of that becomes irrelevant. You discover that your eyes can discern an alarming number of shades of brown and not much else. Do not seek out an optician, this is simply the reality of being in the Negev. Also, you're not that likely to find an opticians in the middle of a wilderness, and if you think you might, well, you need to drink more water with it.

Brown, there's a lot of it about. That's why when you go somewhere that is different, somewhere blessed by a regular supply of water, the verdancy of the green vegetation hits you right between the eyes. Have a look at the photo with this blog. Now, doesn't that look lusciously green to you? If the answer is no, you're wrong. There's never been anything so green before. Never.

This place is called En Gedi. It is an oasis on the Dead Sea coast where a permanent spring of water feeds a rich variety of flora and fauna for about a kilometre before it picks up so much salt that it is effectively dead. There are many water courses along the shores of the Dead Sea but almost all are ephemeral, dry for most of the year and only running after a large, and rare deluge.

En Gedi is where David hid from King Saul (1 Samuel 23). As a hiding place it made sense. The Dead Sea area was the kind of place you didn't want to go unless you really had to. Hot and desolate, you could easily find yourself several days from the nearest water source; water that wouldn't kill you if you drank it, that is. A place such as En Gedi was an oasis in the truest sense, offering all not only water but also food and shelter. Anyone pursuing you would have to be pretty determined.

Well, if you read on in the story you find that King Saul was rather determined and also rather foolish. He pursues David to En Gedi but ends up at David's mercy. David spares Saul and exacts from him a pardon.

The story fits the place. In a land of death, life is given in an oasis of life. The Bible often does this; fits the story to the setting, or maybe it's the other way round.


ps. I actually tweaked the photo to make it appear more green and lush than the original image.


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