Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Day 9 Israel - Masada

Today was mostly a travel day as we left Egypt and went into Israel road the tour bus all the way to our hotel in Tiberias.  We had a very long bus ride and a time consuming border crossing.  We passed Lot's Wife Monument. We did get to stop at Masada.

We saw an actual Jewish Rabbi who was copying the Torah by hand onto a scroll, just like they've done for centuries.

 We got to take a tram up to the top of Masada.  This was an old fortress build by Herod the Great.  Later it was used by the Jews during their revolt from the Roman Empire.  After Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans, this was their last resort of retreat where they tried to hold out.

 This is a cistern on top.  They were for storing water which they collected when it rained through a system of stone gutters.

 Here's where the tram arrived at the top.

 A view back off the mountain that shows how far up we were. Doug walked/ran all the way down.

Masada is a dome shaped flat top mountain and the fortress there was considered impregnable.  They built a wall all around the top and also Herod built a palace there.

 Some of the ruins on top.

 They held out for a long time against the Romans

You can see the ruins of a Roman encampment way down off the mountain.(It is in the middle of the picture, the darker square area.)  The Romans sent the Tenth Legion and 15,000 troops to lay siege to Masada and the 960 people there.  Romans built a wall all around the bottom of the mountain so no one could escape.  Then they built a massive ramp all the way to the top.  Then pushed up the ramp a giant siege tower with a battering ram.  There was a terrible battle but they finally breached the entrance.  The next day when they entered they found the Jewish defenders dead from a mass suicide.  There was only  one women and  couple children alive to tell the story.

Israel now considers Masada and their sacrifice as a symbol of the fight for liberty.  They said at the end, they would rather die as free men than live as slaves.

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