Engedi means "Spring of the Goat Kid" in Hebrew and is the name of an oasis in the desert west of the Dead Sea near Masada. Besides Engedi (or En Gedi), this location was also called Hazazon-tamar (2 Chronicles 20:2) and was once an Amorite city (Genesis 14:7) before becoming one of the cities allotted to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:62).
Engedi is perhaps best known for being a hiding place to which David fled when escaping King Saul's murderous intentions (1 Samuel 23:29—24:2). It is thought that David penned Psalm 63 while taking refuge in Engedi. During this time of hiding, while David and his men were concealed in a cave, King Saul unknowingly entered that same cave to relieve himself (1 Samuel 24:1–4). David spared King Saul's life by cutting off a corner of his robe rather than slitting his throat and then used the fabric to prove his loyalty to the king (1 Samuel 24:9–11). "Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold" (1 Samuel 24:22). So Engedi continued to be a safe home for David.
Engedi continued to be a stronghold. During the intertestamental period the Hasmonean Dynasty built a fortified citadel to protect the town and its agriculture against raiding nomads. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by the Romans during the Jewish Rebellion from AD 66 to AD 70. Due to its natural resources, however, Engedi continued to be an important settlement. Today, a kibbutz conducts agriculture and tourism there. There is also a national park and a nature preserve with a botanic garden and hiking trails.
Most springs in the area have a high salt content, but Engedi is one of only two freshwater springs on the western shore of the Dead Sea. In a desert-like wilderness where temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, Engedi is literally a refuge of living water. It is no wonder that David wrote, "my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1), and in Psalm 23, "He leads me beside still waters" (Psalm 23:2). Engedi is literally a physical place of fresh water where humans, animals (like Ibex goats), and plants can flourish amid an otherwise arid and inhospitable landscape. During King Solomon's time, Engedi's vineyards of balsam trees were known for producing perfume as mentioned in Song of Solomon 1:14.
Engedi, in the Bible, is known as a place of refuge, fertility, and flourishing—a place created by God to give and preserve life for those who take refuge in Him (Psalm 104:10–18; Psalm 5:11–12; Psalm 18). In fact, Ezekiel prophesied that, in the future, Engedi will become a fishing village after God places a freshwater river that runs from Engedi to the Dead Sea, restoring life to the whole region which is currently an arid wilderness (Ezekiel 47:10). How we can look forward to the day when "For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17)!
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