ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MASADA NATIONAL PARK
The trip to Masada national park takes us into three significant historical periods, to the days of the Hasmonean refuge fortresses in the Judean Desert, rising in full force the image of Herod, a controversial king. The multi-working constructor King who had impressive political achievements and, of course, the builder of the second Jewish temple that reached the peak of its glory in his days, but at the same time a cruel tyrant, who established his throne for the incessant killing of the Hasmonean family and his family. In the third period, Masada returns to function as a refuge, this time during the Great Rebellion and its tragic end.
The location of Masada far from the place of settlement and its natural fortifications became a fortress. Mount Masada - between Sodom and Ein Gedi, a bloc that rose and hung up from the cliff of replicas, at the foot of which a stream of Ben Yair and the Masada river from the south. The top of the mountain is flat, a steeper East, a weak point in terms of strategy-the West Side. To the south of Mount Lazarus that a few hundred meters higher than Masada.
KING HERODS AND HIS AMAZING PROJECT IN THE JUDEAN DESERT
Herods was a king who loved to challenge nature and overcome construction challenges. Built for itself on its part 3 palaces, a palace of servants, a palace of guests and the northern Palace which is the most luxurious, a rock tooth especially for him, in his private palace you will see an elaborate bathhouse with a hypocaust system, in the other palaces only a cold room and a frigidarium and huge pools.
You will be able to see catapults and sling stones, here were guards who promoted the following. At the gate is the black line of reconstruction that marks the height of the preservation of the original remains. The walls of the gate are decorated with polished plaster (stucco) and at the feet are the original plastered benches that were used by the guards and those waiting to enter. Herods took simple materials and with the help of adaptations received spectacular effects, also designed columns and headings, took simple columnar vertebrae from soft stone, coated them with clay, created grooves on them as if it were a magnificent pillar. Herod does not import building materials, except volcanic ash that came to the port of Caesarea, uses local materials.
Bathhouses are part of the Roman culture, were walking around in the nude, from the warm room to the lukewarm and cold, the heating is underfloor and therefore the ceiling was arched. Before Masada was a palace, there was a citadel to witch the Hasmoneans escaped before the rebellion, but Herods made sure to finish the story of the Hasmoneans and kill them all creatively, of course after marring the Hasmonean Mary, as a forced enlisted King that the people never accepted, he made sure that we did not forget him thanks to her sons. Many years after King Herod died, Jews settled there, a group of Jews, who rebelled in the Roman Empire, or rather, fled from the Roman Empire because the commissioners corrected all sorts of regulations and offensive decrees, as part of the suppression of the Roman uprising also reached Masada, after they had already destroyed the capital city of Jerusalem and the temple that was the most important place of spiritual worship for the Jewish people and the last refuge.
THE SIEGE OVER MASADA
The Romans in just two weeks built a siege system, below Masada mount there was the Tenth Roman Legion under the command of Flavius Silva, 5000 soldiers plus 3000 auxiliary forces, they set up 8 camps and built a 4.5-kilometer siege wall that would strangle the jews, and make sure they won't be able to access food and water source, they built the siege machine and subdued its part with a sword, preventing the escape of rebels and reinforcements, creating a feeling of suffocation, a psychological barrier that demonstrates the end of the road.
The Jews who felt that their end was approaching made a decision that was not a second in the history of the Jewish people, they overthrew destinies and committed suicide one after another. When the wall is broken, Flavius Silva enters and saw all the people dead. in the room where the lottery took part with the names of the Warriors were found, the hypothesis is that the order is determined by the lottery of the names and between the names is also found the name-Elazar Ben Yair. The synagogue was used in the days of the rebels, in the days of Herod the stable was here, but we know that it is a synagogue according to all sorts of Gnostic scrolls found here, among them a section of the vision of the dry bones from the book of prophet Ezekiel in which the resurrection of the dead and the association and the establishment of independence for life are described.
THE COLUMBARIUM ON MASADA NATIONAL PARK
The archeologist who worked together with Yigal Yadin-Shemaya Gutman saw this facility and suggested that it was a facility for breeding pigeons, Yigal Yadin and his friend Moshe Abrik-put a dove in the morning to one of the webs and she ran away. Yigal Yiddin writes in the book about national Park Masada and the experiment they did and the Dove did not like the cub...he claimed that here they placed the ashes of the staff or workers in Herod's non-Jewish Palace(cremation). In the lowlands of Israel, there are similar facilities-Marsha, Madras. Sometimes in caves and sometimes exposed outside.
WHAT WAS THE USE OF THE COLUMBARIUM?
1.Meat - in the absence of refrigerators and cooling systems, the pigeon is an instant and satisfying meat dish and does not require the preservation of the rest of the meat.
2.Fertilizing - the droppings of pigeons contained fertilizing substances. Perhaps on the Masada, there were once vegetable gardens, even if they did not use garbage.
3.Mail - another option, you don't need a lot of "halls" for a few Mail pigeons, but we do not exclude this option. There are other facilities like this in the wall of the closers. In terms of mail do not need a lot of pigeons, but only individual ones. The excavator who worked together with Yigal Yadin-Shemaya Gutman saw this facility and suggested that it was a columbarium for breeding pigeons
4.Sacrifice-if it is a Jewish settlement, it can be taken into account that from here a sacrifice is made to the temple, a pigeon sacrifice is the cheapest animal sacrifice, another reason for raising pigeons.
THE BREAKING POINT OF MASADA
In the second camp sat Flavius Silva, commander of the Tenth Legion at the time of the siege, he controlled the entire system and especially the spill of the embankment from which the Romans laid siege and scored the walls of Masada. The Romans set up the siege system quickly, according to most studies, the construction of the dyke and the camps lasted about two weeks, each of the soldiers and auxiliaries quickly built a section of the wall and the camps, then began to pour a battery on the west side, and it turns out there was a natural spur. Of the embankment raised by the Romans and created a ramp, they raised a ram to a height of about 30 feet and within three months they scored the wall of Masada.
THE MASSIVE SUICIDE ON MASADA
Who is Elazar Ben Yair?. Eleazar ben Yair gathered his friends and gave them two speeches, in which he tells them that it is better for them to lend a hand in their souls than to see their wives become slaves and their children slaves. In the first speech he does not convince them, in the second speech he does, out of 967, there are two women and five children left who evaded the collective suicide during which each murdered his family members, in the end, there was a lottery and they eliminated each other.
THE WATER SYSTEM OF MASADA
Like dozens more on Masada, Nahal Masada The water source filled 12 cisterns on the northwest side. During a flowing flood, a large drainage basin, King Herods who included the issue of water storage by catching floods in the Masada River, built a dam that filled another 8 cisterns, there is another system that received its water from the channels called "Ben Yair River", the water was raised to the summit by Masada convoys Or donkeys on two paths.
HOW RELIABLE IS THE STORY OF MASADA?
Josephus? Yosef ben Matityahu is our source for understanding the war on Masada. According to Yonatan the first Hasmonean to fortify Masada, there is a debate as to whether it is Judah's brother or it is a nickname of Alexander Yanai - the Hasmoneans actually built fortifications in the desert, built Saratba and Hyrcania and Maqwer past the Jordan and Cyprus in Wadi Kelt, they built fortifications so they could escape to them When threatened and needed. The period of the commissioners based in Caesarea. The country began tremendous unrest against Roman rule, the behavior of the commissioners was vicious and corrupt. The commissioners were among the inferiors of the Roman diplomatic system, this gave rise to unrest protests and struggles that ended in rebellion.
The Jewish people were divided between zealots and Sicarii and other streams. The Sicarii for example were extremists, stabbing their rivals (Sika = knife) and anyone who suspected of collaborating with the Romans. In fact, they greatly deteriorated the relationship and led to the outbreak of the revolt, they are among the prominent groups that led to the outbreak of the revolt in 66AD.
riots in Jerusalem escalated, then a group of Sicarii, under the command of Menachem Ben Yehuda the Galilean (founder of the fourth philosophy - freedom at all costs, never to be under the rule of a flesh-and-blood man) left Jerusalem and attacked the weapon storages of Masada, they stole weapons to continue the riots in Jerusalem. When they returned to Jerusalem, Menachem Ben Yehuda murdered Hananiah for his criminal behavior - a retired high priest who was relatively moderate, and his brother Hezekiah did not hold long until he was murdered and the Sikriks fled Jerusalem to Masada.
In the revolt itself, we do not see them involved, not even in Gamla. 967 Sikaris returned and captured Masada under the command of Elazar Ben Yair. They fought even after the fall of Jerusalem in 70Ad, in the days of Titus. Josephus tells us about the rebels in Masada who raided Ein Gedi and killed more than 700 people, most of them women and children, probably an exaggeration. The Sikhs are an extremist and murderous group, would stab without hesitation Jews collaborating with the Romans, whoever was not an active partner in the revolt had to be murdered by them. There were some secrets perhaps in the army of Shimon Bar Giora, beyond that they are not involved, except for the raids on Ein Gedi. The main reason for the raid is to stockpile supplies, but they also on the way killed Jews who assumed they were collaborating with Romans.
Masada fell in the winter of 74 the 10th Legion with auxiliary forces occupying the mountain, the legion numbered about 5,200 soldiers who were joined by auxiliary forces from other armies and among them probably also Jews taken captive.
When Flavius Silva entered the Masada with the Romans, he saw the bodies lying in front of him, hundreds of family members - women, children, and warriors lying after they had laid a hand on their souls. An order was immediately given to burn or bury the bodies, perhaps the Jewish prisoners should have done so, to this day only a few skeletons have been found, so to this day it is not clear whether there was a suicide.
Jews avoid such suicides, it is unusual and unacceptable, but there are several examples described by Yosef ben Matityahu himself. The question is whether he is a reliable source. Yosef ben Matityahu is accepted in the study as a reliable and accurate source, but sometimes the numbers he presents seem exaggerated.
Is Yosef ben Matityahu a reliable source? How credible should he be? Was he in Masada at all during the siege? He left Jerusalem in 70, moved to Rome to sponsor Vespasian and Titus his son after Titus conquered Jerusalem.
How did Yosef ben Matityahu knew the speech of Elazar ben Yair even though he was not there? He had access to the archives of the Roman army, he could not invent things from his imagination, he must have heard from roman authors and historians! these were things that probably happened. Roman historians write things that they think probably were, this is not the only speech Josephus brings us and describes, even though he was not present.
WESTERN BREAKING POINT OF MASADA
Above the Roman embankment stands the lack of the retaining wall that was destroyed during the siege. In the month of Nissan 73 or 74, the Romans erected a siege tower that bridged the height difference between the top of the embankment and the top of the cliff and wall. During the siege, the area was shelled by Roman artillery machines, as evidenced by the bullets and arrowheads found at the site. The rebels defended themselves with large rolling stones. The rupture of the wall and the burning of the wooden and dirt wall erected by the rebels from within led to the military decision. The Romans chose this place because of the height difference between Masada Hill and the cliff opposite, the height difference is less than a hundred meters.
Here Herod built a retaining wall, you can see a massive row of rooms, the cliffs themselves are the wall, the retaining wall is designed to prevent people from falling into the abyss. Masada is fortified not only with a natural fortification but also with reinforcements, such as the surrounding wall, which is not particularly thick. The siege ram here can endanger the wall if it is already possible to build. The Romans poured out a battery while being under fire. The little conical hill is the Hill of the Tombs. The dyke descends from it to the north, where it meets a small Roman camp - this is the 5th camp, from there the dyke continues and descends the cliff, you can see the 6th camp, this is the headquarters of Flavius Silva, historians convinced that here he established the headquarters and not by chance, He was prepared to manage the whole battle and the siege and the shedding of the embankment and the cracking of the wall was the central part.
THE BYZANTINE CHURCH OF MASADA
The center of the Byzantine secluded monastery = Laura (or LAVRA in Greek). The monks lived all days of the week in a niche, cell, or small ruin, in solitude and met only on Saturday afternoons and Sundays, so they could have a common prayer and a common meal.
There are over 60 secluded caves, such monks engaged in prayers or weaving mats or other manual labor, also, it was the focal point of their encounter. The church is typical, there is no division into a hall of halls and citadels by columns. There is an apse facing east. The windows are designed to allow light in and in the entrance room, there is a beautiful white mosaic when entering the main hall.
The hall is paved with colorful mosaic and the walls are decorated with patterns designed from pottery and stones sunk in plaster. Potsherds and stones sunk into the wall are familiar to us from the Byzantine world as a method of strengthening plaster. The end of the hall, which is designed as an apse (rounded wall), has been preserved to its full height and in the center is a window whose glass is found in the courtyard. Here was the altar and below it was dug a pit that might have been used for burial or preservation of remains.
This space was a domain in a decorated marble grille. The roof of the church was covered with clay tiles found at the site. In the western room is a mosaic floor with plant patterns of fruit and a basket of communion bread. A low stone wall surrounds the churchyard and several farm buildings were found within its boundaries. The roof of the church was drained by plastered gutters attached to the outer walls. White plaster covered the wall and obscured the layer that can be seen today. The church dates to the 5th-6th century AD, even the beginning of the 7th century.
THE WESTERN PALACE OF MASADA
The largest building in Masada is 3700 square meters. Built during Herod's reign. Enter through the entrance hall where benches and stucco reliefs. A plastered courtyard with a water canal on its eastern side was crossed. Enter a well-plastered central courtyard. In the courtyard is a model of the magnificent palace. In this part of the palace is a room identified as the throne room because of four depressions that were discovered on its floor. Go up to the second floor and see a bathroom complex. This is the first structure that Herod builds in Masada, a series of warehouses, usually characterized as elongated and rectangular rooms, covered, can be done with wooden boards or trunks, reeds, and clay. People who wanted to stay and meet Herod came to this palace. There were many palaces in different locations - in Jericho, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Herodium, and Maver - and he was not in Masada regularly. They were hosted here under the auspices of Herod. Herod died in Jericho and was buried at Herodium, at his request.
We see spectacular mosaic floors, there is a simple white color and there are also decorations typical of the days of the Second Temple. What sets these models apart - there are no figures and no portraits, in the days of the Second Temple, they were very careful in keeping the second commandment - you will not make a statue and any picture will not bow to them and will not work. Models similar to what we see here, with Rosetta can be seen in Jerusalem, these characterize the days of the Second Temple.
In the Byzantine period, it was already visible to the sun - helios and zodiac signs in synagogues, but meanwhile, in the days of the Second Temple, the second commandment was carefully observed. The magnificent floor from the days of Herod, who built the western palace.
Visit the amazing site on a private guided tour to the Dead Sea and Masada, this site requires archeological knowledge, therefore, it is most recommended to use a Profesional tour guide to maximize the visit
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