|I am smiling, but the story of this place is a very sad one.|
Masada is AMAZING. The model above shows what the fortress looked like when built by Herod the Great. He built this retreat between 37 and 31 BCE on the top of a mountain that looks over the Dead Sea. The view from the site is incredible.
We rode a cable car up and back, and I can't imagine how people endured the climb before this modern transportation was installed. Climbing would be hard enough, but to bring up tools, supplies, and who knows what else, is mind-boggling.
Photo from Wikipedia
Herod was a Jew, but turned his back on ADONAI and on his own people. He embraced the Roman empire in order to achieve his lofty goals, and taxed the Jews unmercifully to finance his lavish building projects.** He built this fortress as a protected retreat / hide-out for himself. The compound included a surrounding casement, cisterns for water, storehouses, palaces, a Roman-style heated bath house, and military barracks.
About 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. Jerusalem had fallen and the Temple was destroyed, around 70 CE. Other Jewish zealots and their families joined them, and held the fortress until 73 CE.
Then, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with an army of thousands, and established camps at the base of the mountain. They constructed a ramp that reached the doors of the fortress and, in the spring of 74 CE, broke in with a battering ram.
Once it became apparent that they would be defeated, Elazar ben Yair - the Zealots’ leader - decided that death by suicide would be better than death at the hands of the Romans. The following is from his final speech to the people:
"Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to G-d Himself, Who alone is the true and just L-rd of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice ...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that G-d has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom." (from Josephus Flavius’ The Jewish War)
The final ten Jews etched their names on stones, as noted below.
The event at Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jews to be free in their own homeland, and this site is the second most popular place to visit in Israel. Jerusalem is, of course, number one.
Masada was discovered in 1842, but excavations didn't begin until the 1960's. In the photos below, the black line shows the amount of dirt and debris that covered the floor of the fortress.
These photos are of Herod's private bath with a sunken tub, and walls covered in different colors of marble. It must have been beautiful.
These two photos show the heated bath area. The floor was raised, with heated water underneath. The second photo shows it even had a window to see the beautiful view.
And here is the spectacular view from the top of Masada.
Shelby loved seeing Masada, and it was so good to see her smile. She was a real trooper on this trip. She amazed me with her determination to see everything, even though she didn't always feel well.
I was so glad we got a group photo while there. Well, actually several had wandered off, but this is most of us. The young man on the far left wasn't even part of our group. I think he just figured we were a fun bunch and joined in. We all called it a wonderful day.Stop by again next week. I still have so much more to share.
** To see another of Herod's amazing building projects, Caesarea Maritime, click HERE.