Magnificent Masada

Trip Start Sep 20, 2011
Trip End Oct 08, 2011

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

This morning - after our 'float' in the Dead Sea we visit Masada - Built high upon on a rocky plateau overlooking the Dead Sea are the ruins of Masada.  Where one of the most famous stories in Jewish History takes place.  There are two ways to reach the plateau - one is by walking up and the other is by cable car - I have some impressive photos of those walking - taken while we were riding in the cramped luxury of the cable car!!

In the 1st century BC - King Herod built an elaborate fortress on this mountain top complete with palaces, bathhouses, storerooms, and cisterns. To see the renderings is quite amazing.  The real story however begins in 66 AD when Jewish Zealots and their leader Eleazar ben Ya'ir did not want to follow the rules of the Romans. They had more than enough food and water stored up here and began their stand off. Finally in 72 AD the Romans got serious about doing away with this group and 15,000 Romans built camps around the mountain top and began to construct a ramp to carry them up the far side of the mountain.The Romans finally breached the walls and instead of immediately going inside - they retreated until the next day.  What they found upon their return amazed them.

The night the Romans breached the fortress - Eleazar gathered all the Zealots and discussed what they were to do. They decided to kill themselves - each man was responsible for killing his wife and children, then the men drew lots and killed each other until the last man set fire to everything and killed himself.  There were purportedly about 1,000 people living here at the time.

Two women and five children survived by hiding in a cistern,and told the story to a famous historian and during the time that they discovered and excavated the site they found evidence that specifically pertained to the story that was told so therefore they really believe it to be true.

There was a mini-series back in the early 1980's with Peter O'Toole and Peter Strauss that tells the story of Masada - would be interesting to see.

Although it is located in the Judean Desert and the sun beats down on you almost every day of the year - it was quite comfortable up there - hot - yes - but with some nice breezes.  The views were amazing although unfortunately the camera couldn't quite capture it with the salt air and the haze from the Desert heat.

Now we are off to Jerusalem - I will include that in a separate blog....

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