Israel the Beautiful: A desert sanctuary

The desert remains timeless as the passage of a shepherd with his flock along ancient trails so easily proves.

January 22, 2011 01:54
1 minute read.
Nahal Prat.

nahal prat_311. (photo credit: YEHOSHUA HALEVI)

Although Nahal Prat – the Prat Stream – is located less than an hour's drive from Jerusalem in the Judean Desert, I had not ventured there until recently. The canyon runs roughly parallel to the highway that descends from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea, with springs that supply the stream with water year round. We had hiked about two hours into the canyon when we paused on a shaded rock to have lunch. Suddenly and without warning, we heard the clanging of bells as a flock of goats crested the ridge on the far side of the stream and descended en masse to drink and forage. Accompanied by their shepherd, who rode on a donkey, the goats ambled through our picnic site and up the opposite ridge, the last bell finally fading after about 20 minutes.

I jumped up from my meal and positioned myself midstream to allow both sides of the canyon to remain in the composition and to corral as many of the goats as possible within the frame. I pointed my camera up and down the valley, but prefer this shot in the direction of the sun, which adds a sparkle to the water and brightens the backs of the white-haired goats. I have spent limited time in the environs of the desert, so its landscapes and aesthetic remain fresh and intriguing to my photographic eye. In biblical times, this stream marked the boundary between the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Today, the desert remains timeless as the passage of a shepherd with his flock along ancient trails so easily proves.

Yehoshua Halevi is an award-winning photojournalist and event photographer.
For queries on simha photography in Israel and Europe, send an e-mail to [email protected]
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