A wonderful combination of landscape, nature, and remnants of the past. The Gamla reserve has a unique concentration of birds, some of them rare, on a limited area on the one hand, and on the other hand the architectural structure of the oldest known synagogue in the world. There is a special lookout point that stands on the edge of the cliff from which you can watch the eagles' flight and the second observation point, which overlooks Gamla Waterfall.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF GAMLA - A PEACEFUL JEWISH CITY OF GALILEE
At the lookout point in front of the ruins of the ancient city of Gamla, imagine the people of the city from about 2000 years ago, going up and down the staircase made of black basalt stones, harvesting fine olive oil, at the entrance to the city sit the city elders enjoying the plateau winds.
Imagine the women of the city of Gamla cooking Shabbat dinner and the children playing in front of the view.
Life in Gamla was good.
In the synagogue between the magnificent pillars would gather lanterns, wrapped in white prayer shawls, the people of the city to study the Torah.
Jerusalem was in direct contact with the city. Gamla's olive oil was pure and it could be that Gamla's oil would have reached Kiddush in the Temple itself.
Guests from Katzrin and other cities throughout the Golan and Galilee would come to trade, groom and sanctify Jewish life in Israel together. The city which you will discover is located in an unusual location. On a narrow hill between two streams - the Gamla river and Dalyot river. There was only one path for those coming and going from Gamla, a path that leads to a huge city wall and passes through a deep canal. The city was fortified, inaccessible to the rioters, surrounded by a wall, and self-assured.
THE GREAT DESTRUCTION OF GAMLA
About 2,000 years ago, Jews of Israel rebelled against the Romans, going against all odds against an international military empire. The results of the Great Revolt were destruction and calamity for the Jewish people, including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple within it. Our people were killed all over the country. In the city of Gamla, all 9000 of its inhabitants were killed. 4000 residents of the city and another 5000 who sought protection in it, some with a sword and some who jumped with their children to their death in the Riverbend.
The war and the destruction of the city of Gamla were written in detail in a book known as the "Jewish Wars" book - the book was written about 2000 years ago by the commander of the Jewish army in the Galilee during the revolt called "Yosef ben Matityahu". When Joseph saw that we were losing the battles he decided to move side with the Roman army thus saving his life. The Romans tasked him with writing the course of the revolt, the war, and its aftermath. For that we thank him. We have a research book, which describes in detail the course of the difficult war. In time, the name of Yosef ben Matityahu was changed to Josephus Flavius.
In the book "Jewish Wars":
"And the Romans conquered all the fortresses of the Galilee .. and also the city of Gamla which is to the Sea of Galilee ... rebelled further against the Romans ... because its inhabitants trusted in the power of their city which was strong even obliterated"
Why did the Jews revolt?
The Jews began a revolt of honor and faith. The glory of God is at stake and with it the holy city, the city of God - Jerusalem. And to worship sculptures, and emperors.
THE HISTORY OF THE JEWISH REVOLT
The Roman Legion arrives in a huge and orderly army after destroying and burning the city of Yodfat and subduing the Galilee. On the way cities like Gush Halav and Tzipori surrender before it. The commander of the Jewish forces in the Galilee, Yosef ben Matityahu, moves sideways and at this stage of the war, he accompanies the legions (divisions) of the Roman army.
The greatest battle yet before them - the conquest of the city of Jerusalem.
The people of the city of Gamla decide to rebel and not surrender against the Romans, at this point the city is after seven months of siege by the Israeli king on behalf of the Romans Agrippa. The city was under siege but its people were exhausted. They see themselves as defenders of Jerusalem with the thought that if they follow the Roman army Jerusalem will be saved. Coins with the stamp: "For the redemption of Holy Jerusalem" were found at the site.
The Romans arrive in front of Gamla and begin to fill the Riverbend with a dirt embankment, throwing it into catapults, large stone balls to score the fortified wall.
Over 2,000 catapults, stone balls have been found in archeological excavations throughout Gamla and in the synagogue.
THE FIRST ROMAN ATTACK ON GAMLA
In the first attack in which the Romans managed to score the city wall, they stormed the houses, pushing the residents of Gamla to the top of the hill. At the height of their enthusiasm, they climbed on the roofs of townhouses that were made of wooden beams and mud. From the weight load of the dozens of Roman warriors, the roofs of the houses collapse on the Roman soldiers and many of them are fatally wounded.
Gamla people saw that the Roman army was surprisingly damaged, they attacked them and managed to repel them and cause many and heavy losses. It is told in the story of the battle that after the battle of Gamla the spirit of the Roman army fell because he was not accustomed to such severe defeat as the commander of the Roman army Aspasinos encourages their spirit in an emotional speech.
SECOND AND FINAL ATTACK
Another month passes on the 23rd of the month of Elul in 67 AD, in the night came three Romans who manage to dismantle three stones from the huge guard tower and collapse it. Now the Roman soldiers are attacking with full force and the city is conquered, all its inhabitants are burned and some are killed by the sword and some by an act of despair and suicide.
The setting and disappearance of the city of Gamla
The decline of the city of Gamla lasted about 2000 years. The ruined city was abandoned after the battle.
The Roman army gathered its weapons and turned to the greatest battle of all over the city of Jerusalem. For centuries the city was covered with dirt, earth and disappeared altogether.
ARCHEOLOGY IN GAMLA
In 1967, with the conquest of the Golan Heights from the Syrians, archaeologists reached the Golan Heights and searched for the thriving Jewish settlement that existed on the plateau before the Great Revolt. It was Yitzhaki Gal to locate Gamla at the aforementioned place. He sees the jagged hill with the streams on either side of it he invites the archaeologist Gutman to inspect the area and the findings show that bingo. Indeed it is Gamla, the city destroyed in a great war was found after 2000 years underground.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDS ON GAMLA
The largest concentration of catapult stones - a type of crane that throws round stones to break walls was found near the area of the breached wall, through which the Roman forces burst into the city.
During the breakthrough of the service descending to the site, a large accumulation of c. 200 catapult stones c. Despite being visible, we only noticed it about two years later! This accumulation may have been adjacent to the Catapult position, but it may also have been the place where they were made from the local basalt stones.
THE OLD GAMLA SYNAGOGUE
The Gamla Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Israel and the world. It was built while the Temple existed in Jerusalem. Although the worship was concentrated in Jerusalem, in the synagogues they would gather, wrap themselves in holiness, study Torah, praise, and say thank you.
Walk the trails, feel the place, see the views.
I love touring cities and ancient places throughout Israel. I feel the direct connection between the places and those people, Jews, our ancestors who lived here. join me for a wonderful visit to Gamla national park to discover more in one of my famous Galilee tours.