Ein Gedi (Hebrew: עֵין גֶּדִי) is an oasis in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the caves of Qumran.
The name Ein Gedi is composed of two Hebrew words: ein means spring and gdimeans goat-kid. En Gedi thus means "Kid spring."
In the 2 Chronicles 20:2 it is identified with Hazazon-tamar, where the Moabites and Ammonites gathered in order to fight Josaphat. In Genesis 14:7 Hazazon-tamaris mentioned as being a Amorite city, smitten by Chedorlaomer in his war against the cities of the plain.
The indigenous Jewish town of Ein Gedi was an important source of balsam for the Greco-Roman world until its destruction by Byzantine emperor Justinian as part of his persecution of the Jews in his realm. A synagogue mosaic remains from Ein Gedi's heyday, including a Judeo-Aramaic inscription warning inhabitants against "revealing the town's secret"– possibly the methods for extraction and preparation of the much-prized balsam resin, though not stated outright in the inscription – to the outside world. According to the Miholjanec legend, Stephen V of Hungary had in front of his tent a golden plate with the inscription: "Attila, the son of Bendeuci, grandson of the great Nimrod, born at Ein Gedi: By the Grace of God King of the Huns, Medes, Goths, Dacians, the horrors of the world and the scourge of God."
Ein Gedi nature reserve was declared in 1971 and is one of the most important reserves in Israel. The park is situated on the eastern border of the Judean Desert, on the Dead Sea coast, and covers an area of 14000 dunams (one modern dunam equals the area of one decare).
The elevation of the land ranges from the level of the Dead Sea at 423 meters (1,388 ft) below sea level to the plateau of the Judean Desert at 200 meters above sea level. Ein Gedi nature reserve includes two spring-fed streams with flowing water year-round: Nahal David and Nahal Arugot. Two other springs, the Shulamit and Ein Gedi springs, also flow in the reserve. Together, the springs generate approximately three million cubic meters of water per year. Much of the water is used for agriculture or is bottled for consumption.
The reserve is a sanctuary for many types of plant, bird and animal species. The vegetation includes plants and trees from the tropical, desert, Mediterranean, and steppian regions, such as Sodom apple, acacia, jujube, and poplar. The many species of resident birds are supplemented by over 200 additional species during the migration periods in the spring and fall. Mammal species include the Nubian ibex and the Rock hyrax. The Ein Gedi national park features several archaeological sites including the Chalcolithic Temple of Ein Gedi and a first century CE village. The park was declared in 2002 and covers an area of 8 dunams.
Kibbutz Ein Gedi, founded in 1956, is located about a kilometer from the oasis. It offers various tourist attractions and takes advantage of the local weather patterns and the abundance of natural water to cultivate out-of-season produce. The kibbutz area contains an internationally acclaimed botanical garden covering an area of 100 dunams (10 ha, 24.7 acres). There one can find more than 900 species of plants from all over the world.
The Ein Gedi race, also known as the Shalom Marathon – Dead Sea Half Marathon is a popular road running event over several distances that has been held by the Tamar Regional Council since 1983. The starting point for all races is the Ein Gedi Spa, 80 kilometers (50 mi) southeast of Jerusalem and 4 kilometers south of Kibbutz Ein Gedi