The House that Herod built...Masada and the Dead Sea

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May 10th 2013
Published: May 26th 2013
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Dead Sea Scrolls were found here.
We started our trip today with Matt, Nikki, Daniel, Ralph and Dorothy. We stopped at Qumran to see where the Dead Sea scrolls had been found in 1947. Can I say Ho Hum? As we left the best part of our trip was about to begin. We were on our way to Masada. This was one of the reasons I had wanted to take this cruise. Masada is a U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage site.

Driving alongside the Dead Sea we saw beautiful views around every turn to our left. The colors were turquoise and white from the salt. To our right were rolling hills. All of a sudden, the hills flattened out and we was what looked like a ship in the desert. It was Masada and even at a distance you could tell it was enormous. We arrived at the visitors center and gathered together to ascend up to the top of Masada by cable car. We could see the brave few people who had decided to hike up the Snake Path. It was called this because it was narrow and twisted back and forth like a snakes body. When we got to the top, we still had to climb a bit more to come out and see the plateau before us. We let our imagination go...We explored the ruins, the baths, the water cisterns and wondered how people could have survived in the desert heat? Where did they cook? What did they cook? What did they do in their spare time? Did the children go to school?

Herod the Great's three tier palace cascaded down the North Face of Masada. Inside stairs made it possible to go between levels without being seen. Herod had a great understanding of architectural design and urban planning. He also took an active role in the erection of many of his buildings.

"He built a wall surrounding the mountain top, seven ris (Stadia) long, twelve cubits high and eight cubits wide; and on the wall all around he built thirty-seven towers. Herod also built himself a palace on the Western Decline, below the wall which surrounded the peak, and everywhere Herod hewed cisterns out of the rock, and in that manner he was able to provide water for those living there as though there were springs at their disposal. Thus the fortress was fortified by Heaven and man alike against any enemy
Enjoying the Float!Enjoying the Float!Enjoying the Float!

Tim and Terry
who might wage war against it."

After Herod's death in 4 B.C., the Romans took over Masada and they held it until a group of zealot Jewish immigrants captured it in 66 A.D. In the next few years many more immigrants arrived at Masada. Over 960 people lived there when the Romans decided to take back Masada. They had a garrison of 15,000 soldiers. It wasn't going to be easy. The Romans tried climbing up the sides of the rock walls. They had rocks thrown at them and hot oil. They decided to build a 375 ft. assault ramp which would take some time. It was now the year 73 A.D. and the Romans finally were high enough to breach the wall with a battering ram. When they finally entered the fortress, they discovered the 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings on fire except the food storerooms and then committed mass suicide. Only two women and five children survived by hiding in one of the cisterns. You should read "The Dovekeepers" which tells the story of Masada from the view of the two surviving women and five children.

After descending in a cable car to the visitors
Ahhh, this is the life!Ahhh, this is the life!Ahhh, this is the life!

Ralph and Dorothy
centre, we gathered again and got on our bus to do to the Dead Sea. We ate lunch and then quickly changed into our swimsuits. We tentatively put our toes in the water and it was warm. It was also spiky with salt crystals. They hurt! We sat down in the water as soon as we could and floated on our backs. It actually was hard to try to go under the water. We made sure we didn't turn on our stomachs because it really would have hurt to get the sulpher/salty water in our eyes. The spiky salt crystals met us again on the way out of the water. I felt as if I had a pedicure. It took all the dead skin off my feet. What a fun and interesting day!

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