I am sad to leave the Dead Sea this morning. My skin and feet feel so very hydrated and soft and we are all feeling well rested. My dad just told me to hang on, so I know today will be another incredible day!
We are travelling to Masada a place that symbolizes Jewish courage and perseverance. Masada means "stronghold." Herod the Great built this mighty refuge for troubled times. He would retreat here to his palace. The architecture is incredible but that is not what makes Masada so special.
The fortress is located on the edge of the barren Negev desert and was the Zealot's last stronghold against Rome. Nine hundred and sixty Jews organized their last resistance to the Roman conquerors here and took their own lives rather than surrender into slavery. I know! That is a lot to take in, isn't it?
We all rode a cable car to the top of Masada. From the cable car you could see Roman siege camps on each side.
One of the large Roman siege camps. The Romans camped outside of the fortress while plotting to overthrow the Zealots:
We stood where we could overlook the siege ramp the Romans built to overthrow the Zealots. They built this ramp using their Jewish slaves. How cold the Zealots throw stones and fight against their own people who were in slavery just outside of their fortress? Instead, the made a plan:
and we sat in the Synagogue that the Jews had converted from a stable:
The Zealots came up with a plan to not allow any of them to be placed into slavery. They would only be enslaved to God and not to any man.
It wasn't long before our guide showed us where the Zealots would have cast lots to determine what 10 men would slay the other men. Each husband was responsible for taking the lives of his wife and children...I cannot begin to imagine what that must have been like.
I do know that the Zealots loved their wives and children too much too allow them to be raped, abused, and placed into slavery by the Romans but I can't imagine the agony of having to make this decision...and then carry out the plan.
After the wives and children were killed, the ten men would then take the lives of each other until one man remained and he committed suicide. On the next day when the Romans arrived they found no resistance, nothing to loot (as the Jews burned all of their possessions) and enough food and water supplies to last for many more months. The Zealots didn't want anyone to think that they died due to not having provisions of food and water. The Zealots desired freedom and they were willing to die for it...and they did.
Dad reminded us of Psalm 18:1-3 which explains the Lord is our fortress, our stronghold...our Masada. We ought to live our lives this way instead of in our own power and strength. You can read more about Masada here.
From Masada, we journeyed to En Gedi. This is where David hid from Saul in a cave that was near a waterfall (I Samuel 24). The "living water" in the desert was beautiful! Jesus is the true Living Water.
On our walk to see the waterfall, our guide showed us trees of thorns....thorns much like our Savior wore as a crown when He died for our sins.
We stopped for a while in Qumron where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in this very cave:
and then we boarded the bus for our journey to....Jerusalem!!!! Jerusalem! Be still my heart...I have so longed to see you!!!