15 January 2012

Masada

The day spent in Masada was originally planned as a day spent at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Unfortunately, there were riots going on this day at the Temple Mount which prevented us from going through with our original plans. This was the only religious conflict we came across in our visit, and as it was, we just avoided Jerusalem that day and headed back out to the Judean desert to visit the famous Masada. Thankfully the conflict in Jerusalem only lasted a day, and we were able to continue with our exploration the next day.


Masada is a great fortress out in the middle of the desert, built for Herod the Great around 37 BC. This fortress is about 1,300 feet high and was designed as a refuge for Herod in case of a revolt. He was quite a paranoid guy indeed, designing his fortress in such a way that he could keep his eye on everyone.



One of the things I found most interesting about the history of Masada was how, with the threat of the Romans taking over, 900 Israelites at Masada killed themselves instead of living as slaves under Roman rule. Before this mass suicide, they burned all their buildings except their food storehouses, demonstrating that they did not die for lack of food. This occurred the day before the Romans took over Masada in AD 73. Quite an incredible story!

Looking down over the desert from Masada

It was so incredibly windy up there!

A model of part of Masada

I remember looking up what Masada looked like before we left for Israel, and I remember being blown away just how out in the middle of nowhere it was. Somehow, I thought I would feel stranded out in the middle of the desert - and in a way, that was kind of Herod's point, but in AD 2010 - it was quite nice! There's a nice building at the base of the fortress (with nice bathrooms! - always a plus!), from here you can take a cable car up to the fortress (a wise choice for those who have never been here before) or you can hike up to the top! Once at the top, we got to walk the perimeter of the fortress, even going inside one of the rooms. This was quite an incredible experience!

              Tsuriel explaining the layout of Masada          Inside one of the rooms - I loved the "paintings"

Me and Christy



    Pastor Sam taking a photo of me taking a photo               Tsuriel - best guide I've ever had!

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