Tel Tamar Biblical Park

History of Biblical Tamar Park in the Holy Land

 

Biblical Tamar Park, also known as Tel Tamar, is the only Jewish Biblical City south of Masada.  Archaeologists state that there was a Jewish presence in the city for over 1,000 years.

 The development of this historic Park is shared with the Israel Antiquities Authority, Sapir Municipal Council, and Blossoming Rose, a USA based humanitarian organization.  The development and building of the Welcome Center, museum, and Library is in the planning progress.  Group learning experiences are conducted in the British building located in the center of the ancient excavated city.  Many tour groups stay at Tamar and the leaders focus on teaching their people about their religious heritage, dating to the time of Abraham, as taught in the Bible. Abraham and his children, Ishmael and Isaac lived near Tamar, in southern Israel and that history is shared with tour participants.

Biblical Tamar:  This 55 acre Park, that surrounds tel Tamar, is a change of pace for tourists.  It is a retreat like setting with dining and study facilities to accommodate 52 people. Most of the hosts want to go there for at least one of the following reasons: archaeology, historic studies, desert treks, hands-on work experiences, fellowship, and/prayer.  This is a great place to stay for groups that want an overnight in the desert to just enjoy a rest and relaxation break from a fast-paced tour.  The Park is located about half way from Jerusalem to Eilot and makes a good, and economical place to stay overnight.

Background

Of all the historic sites of ancient Palestine, ending with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Tamar is the most under-appreciated city in southern Israel.

Biblical Tamar seems to have been forgotten by historians, most of whom barely remember where the southern tribal boundaries were set by Moses. The lack of Jewish and Islamic references describing its very existence should be a source of embarrassment in academic circles, not to mention archeological research.

The Roman Empire became officially Christian in 325 CE, but it, too, apparently had little reason to build more than a large fortress at Tamar without so much as a monastery or church. Nearby Mamshit, used by Nabataeans and Romans as a stopover as a water source in the spice route from the East, was fully reconstructed, but the extraordinary Jewish city to the south remained buried under desert sands.

There is little evidence that Christians lived and worshipped at Tamar or drank from the refreshing artesian well outside Roman walls, but certainly King Solomon and subsequent Jewish kings knew of the city’s strategic significance. Moses understood its importance and the Israelites camped at Tamar (Ovot) and drank from the cool oasis waters.

Muslims, too, have few writings in their histories of Tamar, even though both Ishmael and Esau and their descendents made the south of Israel their homeland. The borders of Edom ebbed and flowed through the period of the Jewish kings as battles were waged to preserve the southern boundary of Judah. It is curious that there would be so few references to its abundant spring and the outpost city built there by Amorites during the days of Abraham and later rebuilt by King Solomon.

The overwhelming silence in the writings of Jews, Christians, and Muslims to Biblical Tamar seems uncommonly strange when so many other Jewish border cities were duly recorded in Hebrew Scripture. This place, while much more massive than Kadesh Barnea, its famous sister town to the southwest, received little attention on the maps of the sages. It is worth our time, therefore, to look at some of the reasons that such an historic blunder actually happened.

Getting There

Biblical Tamar is located 30 miles south of the Dead Sea and less than one kilometer west of Highway 90. These days it is accessible by means of busses and cars and is also identified on the map as Hetzeva or Ir Ovot. A paved access road and ample parking provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority allows for even the physically impaired to easily reach out and touch her massive walls. Toilets and water are available at the site.

New signs posted throughout the Park explain the history of the walls, waterways, granaries, and ancient Jujube tree, located near to the center of the city.

Christian Connection 

Blossoming Rose, a USA partner with the Israel Antiquities Authority for the preservation and restoration of Tamar, maintains and provides year around security for the Park. Relics yet hidden under the desert sands remain protected for another generation of eager archaeologists to discover.

There is an ongoing active dig that continues at Tamar where tour groups spend a day with IAA archaeologists in uncovering the ruins of the well preserved Roman walls in the Eastern quarter of the city. Participants eagerly dig for oil lamps, coins, and pottery identifying those who have lived in the city hundreds and thousands of years ago. Discovered treasures are placed with the other 26,000 historic finds stored in Jerusalem, awaiting their return to Tamar when the new museum is built.

Biblical Tamar Park maintains housing for groups of up to fifty people. Smaller groups and individuals are welcome to stay overnight in the park and use the facilities. A modern air conditioned kitchen and dining room is provided and a smaller kitchen is available for families and individuals. Modest rates are charged to those who wish to stay in the air conditioned and heated overnight rooms, furnished with bedding and towels.

The testimony of a recent visitor to Tamar speaks well of its use today. “I will miss the quietness and simple lifestyle here. I do not believe that we had one cloudy night here in the desert. I feel very refreshed from my time here and look forward to getting back into my Kansas (USA) routine.” Such testimonies are multiplied many times in our file of appreciative notes from visitors.

Tamar welcomes daily and overnight visitors and long term volunteer workers.

ISRAEL 011-972-52-426-0266 Darick; 11-972-52-426-0265 Kate

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Dr. DeWayne Coxon is the Director of Blossoming Rose and a contributor to Travelujah. He can be reached at info@blossomingrose.org

Travelujah Tips

Great location in the Arava, within sight of HWY 90.

Excellent venue for groups that wish to learn about archaeology and a wonderful retreat location.

Bus and car accessible (paved road) and great overnight rates with full or half board available.  All rooms air conditioned with modern kitchen and dining room.  WIFI is free to overnight guests.  The Conference Center has 26 rooms and 52 beds available, both private and semi-private.  The Center is open twelve months a year.

Contact:   www.blossomingrose.org.

Israel:  Park Manager:  052-426-0266 or 052-426-0265.

USA:   dcoxon@blossomingrose.org, 1-800-317-7673