Trapped in a Torrent Valley
BY “AWAKE!” CORRESPONDENT IN ISRAEL
IT WAS the annual Passover festival in Israel. Since we were free from secular duties for a few days, we decided to tour southward through Beer-sheba, across the northern part of the Negeb wilderness, and as far as the Dead Sea and Masada. Our two-car party anticipated an interesting trip.
Heavy rain on Passover morning put a damper on our excitement, but we thought that the weather would change quickly, as the season of rains is usually over in April. Apparently this was the last of the “spring rain.” (Deut. 11:14) As we drove south the weather improved.
Around Gath, now known as Kiryat-Gat, the countryside was green and pleasant. Those Philistines knew where to settle! Passing black goat-hair tents of Bedouin tribesmen along the road toward Beer-sheba, we thought back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham’s day when he too “dwelt in tents” in this region. (Heb. 11:9) By the time we reached Beer-sheba the sun was already shining brightly.
We headed southward now, and were climbing steadily. How colorful the wilderness is here! There are rock layers of so many hues—violet, green, yellow, scarlet, blue, to name a few that we spotted.
Two flat tires on one of the cars halted our progress. There was only one solution; the other car would have to head for the nearest town to get the tires repaired. How surprised we were to see the bright sunshine change dramatically to a violent rainstorm! Just then we reached a wadi or dry valley, across which the roadway cut. It must have been half a mile in width. We noted that already a brook was forming. The sky became even darker, and the downpour reached alarming proportions, to the extent that the car’s windshield wipers were having no effect.
It seemed as though the whole valley was shaking, waters filling it with movement on every side. Everywhere streams were suddenly born and the waters ran faster and faster. Determinedly we tried to reach the other side of the valley so as to get onto higher ground. We almost succeeded, but found deep water ahead of us. A Bedouin Arab waved us back the way we had come. We succeeded in reversing the car and retracing our way.
But halfway back across the valley floor deep water cut across our path. There was no possibility of making it to the other side. The roadway disappeared completely under the rising waters. We edged the car off the road onto a large sandbank, which we shared with a variety of roadwork implements and machinery. All the workmen were home with their families, since it was the Passover holiday. A few yards away a workman’s hut was overturned by the strong flow. The valley was filled with chaos. Large fuel tanks bobbed and danced in the tumultuous waters, colliding with one another and spilling out their contents. Other equipment was swept downstream.
A Bedouin watchman had his tent pitched on a nearby sandbank. We were amazed that his tent could possibly stand despite such heavy rains! His presence not far away was reassuring to us.
After an hour passed, the rains lessened somewhat and visibility improved. We could see that the entire valley was filled with tons of water that had cascaded from the skies. We also noted that the only two spots still above the surface of the waters were the sandbank where we had parked and the place where the Bedouin had his tent.
When the water level sank sufficiently, this friendly watchman waded across and assured us that we would have to wait for a few hours before we could attempt to move on. That did not matter—we were so thankful to be alive!
Some three hours later the roadway reappeared. A layer of rubble and stones covered its surface, over which we had to drive the car. It was a struggle, but we reached the other side, and eventually met up with the group in the other car.