Flashback Friday – Masada Slideshow…
This UNESCO World Heritage site is hauntingly beautiful.
In the Judaean Desert, perched high on a rugged plateau overlooking the Dead Sea, stand the more than two thousand year-old ruins of Herod the Great’s palace-fortress Masada. This was Herod’s winter getaway, built in classic early Roman style, complete with baths and mosaic tile floors and top notch architecture and engineering. Being a Roman appointed ruler, Herod was not well liked by his people – although he did leave a wonderful architectural legacy.
Masada is most famous for the mass suicide that occurred here. In 66 AD the first Jewish revolts began. A group of rebellious Jewish zealots called the Sicarii were expelled from Jerusalem and set up camp at Masada. After the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple, more Jewish rebels and their families fled to Masada. In 72 AD the Romans began their siege. Because they had stored up supplies and food and had plenty of water, thanks to Herod’s genius rain collection system, the siege lasted for several months. The Romans set up camp and constructed a ramp and siege tower. When the Romans were about to break through Masada’s wall defenses the Jewish rebels led by Elazar Ben-Yair decided they would rather die than be captured by the Romans. The men drew lots, 10 were chosen to kill all the men, women, and children of Masada. Then one was chosen by lots from the 10 to kill the remaining 9 and then himself. When the Romans broke through the wall they encountered silence, 960 people lay dead. Only 2 women and 5 children who had hidden lived to tell the tale. The ruins of the Roman siege camp are still visible on a neighboring hill.
Masada was the first stop on our Israel road trip – we were living in Cairo, Egypt at the time and our kids were out of school for winter break. Crossing the border with our car was not a simple feat then (2009) and I imagine it’s even more difficult now.
*slideshow music: by Tibetan Singing Bells Monks 🙂 the agnostic buddhist in me thinks it compliments nicely.