Friday, July 1, 2016

Israel: Masada

It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. --Russian proverb

Day one, we are in for a two nights stay in David Dead Sea Resort and Spa located at Ein Bokek southern most part of the Dead Sea. This quintessential hotel offers modern suites where you will be greeted by the sun and the scenic view of the Dead Sea also known as the Sea of Arabah or Salt Sea as mentioned in the Bible. Plus the food selection in their breakfast and dinner buffet was a feast.




Our first stop is the Qumran Caves, where a Bedouin shepherd discovered the Dead Sea scrolls back in 1947 while searching for lost animals. Study of these scrolls has proven the reliability of certain Old Testament books and given insight to the New Testament culture. So far manuscripts related to all books of the Old Testament(except Esther) has been found in Qumran. The most important of these is the complete scroll of the book of Isaiah which is dated as early as 150 BC.

Ceremonial baths

Following after is the Masada National Park, an ancient palace-fortress on a mesa fortified by King Herod the Great in the Judean Desert located on the Western shore of the Dead Sea. One of the greatest archaeological site atop a lofty plateau that rises 440 meters above the Dead Sea. Tourists could either hike through the snake path or ride a cable car to reach the almost diamond-shaped top of the mountain.

View from the top of Masada
Cable car railings
Wall ruins
Walkway to the Northern palace
Israel flag
Panoramic view of Masada
Michelle, Grace, Kytin
Water cistern holes
Northern palace ruins
Sauna bath
Walls with black marker - original vs restored

Store rooms
Corridor
Romans siege ramp

According to Josephus, Roman-Jewish historian, the last stand between First Jewish and Romans took place in this isolated plateau from 72 to 73 CE. In 72, the Romans camped 15,000 men and women to lay a siege to 960 people in Masada. The Romans build a gigantic ramp on the western face of the mountain which was completed after two to three months of siege.

Eventually Romans was able to breach the wall of the fortress, however when they enter the city the Jews committed mass suicide declaring glorious death as free man than to live as slaves to the Romans.

Josephus chronicled that as suicide was prohibited in Judaism, the defenders had drawn lots to kill each other in turn.

Today, the siege of Masada is remembered as "a symbol of Jewish heroism."


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