Exploring Masada | Holy Land Tour

As you guessed Masada was the next stop on our Holy Land Tour. It is located down the road from En Gedi high on a mountain overlooking the Western shores of the Dead Sea.

What is Masada Famous For?

Being the palace of King Herod the great and the fortress for the Jewish people against the attacking Romans.

What Is the History Of Masada?

Herod the Great, King of Judea who ruled from 37 to 4 BC, built the palace as a refuge in case of a revolt. It was referred to as his winter castle by our guides. Earlier in the day, when we had our first glimpse of the sea, Pastor Jack pointed out a hill on the eastern side of the sea, in Jordan. Herod had built another palace there. Sadly, this is where John the Baptist was held prisoner and ultimately killed him there. 

When the Romans ruled Israel in 70 some of the zealots rebelled and took this as their refuge. After the Romans besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the temple the Jewish survivors fled Jerusalem and made their way to Masada. The Romans were sadly not done with the Children of Israel. 

 

 
Exploring Masada | photo of the stairway up to the ruins of Masada Israel
 
 
Israel – Day 2 Stop 3

Masada

I was driving to the office and listening to “The Daniel Prayer” by Anne Graham Lotts. (I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE!) Being convicted, I started praying fervently. I often pray while driving to work. It’s so nice and quiet – plus you typically aren’t going that fast in California traffic! But this was different, it was an urgent prayer for our country. Since it would be extremely dangerous to close my eyes while driving, I gazed up at the stormy-looking sky. There was a mixture of dark gray clouds, white puffy clouds, and even some deep blue sky peeking through. Overall it looked like it could rain at any minute. While praying and looking up at the threatening sky, I realized with clarity that there is a huge battle taking place right now at this time in history in the heavenly realms and on this earth! A struggle between good and evil and Satin is very, very angry! We can see it every day on the news. Typically, we only hear one side – the side that is raging and furious. I am always tempted to blame those that are raging. This morning, I know they are being manipulated by Satin who doesn’t want to relinquish his power in this country.

Masada Israel

It feels like we are headed for another civil war.

Then as I researched Masada I am reminded this battle has been taking place since the first sin in the Garden of Eden and even including the time period of Masada.

 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.Mathew 11:12  KJV

 

 As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Mark 1:2-3 KJV

 

And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger. Matthew 14:8

 

Photo looking down at the Snake Path to get to Masada Israel with the cable cars coming up the mountain
The snake path and cable cars to reach Masada.
 

 

How To Reach Masada

There are two choices to reach Masada. There are two cable cars that will take you up and down or a walking path appropriately called the snake path. It winds back and forth and looks like a snake climbing the mountainside. Because we had already climbed to the springs in En Gedi, our guides graciously bought us tickets for the cable car. Each car holds 80 people and it was packed!

 

 

The tiles in the Roman bath at Masada
Tiles in the Roman bathhouse

 

 

 

During The Time Of Occupation Of Masada

You may find it interesting that during the same historical period of Masada, some very famous characters lived and in some ways affected this very area – directly or indirectly. Research the history of the Roman Emperors during this time and you will find names like Julius Caesar, Marc Antony, and even Cleopatra. I’ve heard contradictions to this, but I’m told that Marc Antony controlled the eastern part of the Roman Empire and Octavian controlled the Western part after Julius Caesar’s death. Marc Antony joined up with Cleopatra and eventually, there was a power struggle with Octavian to gain total control. Octavian won. You know what happened to Marc Antony and Cleopatra.

Tiles in the Roman bathhouse at Masada Israel
Tiles in the bathhouse

 

Harod The Great 

Back to Herod. Before Herod died in 4 BC – The Roman Emperor, Octavian, trusted Herod to keep the peace in Jerusalem. Herod’s kids were all horrible, so after his death the Emperor started sending various governors from Rome to keep control. This went on for over 60 years. Herod had been ruthless against the Jewish people, including having the children in Bethlehem killed in his attempt to kill the child Jesus and keep him from becoming.

 

Roman Bathhouse replica in Masada Israel
Replica of the bathhouse

 

Mathew 2:16 KJV

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

The governors likewise oppressed the Jews some even stole the sacred items from the temple. Ultimately this led to a revolt of the Jewish people.

 

Mosaic tile floor in Masada Israel
Beautiful tile floor at Masada
 
The Roman Emperor Vespasian sent his son Titus with Roman troops to stop the revolt in Jerusalem.  During this time, some Zealots who opposed the pagan rule of the Romans over the Children of Israel, and the way some of the Jews were compromising the Jewish religion and becoming worldly like the Romans, left to go to Qumran and Masada.  
With the Romans coming to stop the revolt, more Jewish people fled Jerusalem to escape the fighting and sure death.   In 70 BC,  during the time of the Passover as Jerusalem was under siege, Titus allowed pilgrims to enter Jerusalem under the guise that it was so they could worship God.  Well, Titus let them in but refused to let them leave. This strained the supplies of the Children of Israel and made the shortage of food and water even worse.  Titus eventually conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple!

The Zealots and the others were taking refuge out in the desert in Masada, and they thought that Masada was impregnable and they were sure to be safe from the attack by the Roman soldiers. 

The Roman bathhouse had basically three baths, hot, tepid, and cold. Again the engineering in the walls created a heating and cooling system that was amazing! Mosaic tiles are still in place in some areas. There were many rooms of the fortress for various purposes including living quarters for all those serving Herod. Herod’s actual palace was built on three rock terraces down the mountainside! Eventually, it was vacated and became a refuge for the Jews.

Masada Israel heated laconicum Roman Bath
Heated laconicum Roman bath in Masada
Ruin of Roman Bath Masada
Roman bath frigidarium (cold bath) in Masada Israel

 

Roman Siege Ramp at Masada Israel
This is looking down the actual siege ramp used so long ago.

 

Looking down the mountain at the Herod’s palace ruins

After the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, they went after the rest of the Jews that were hiding in Qumran, Masada, and elsewhere. The Zealots and a splinter group, Sicarii, lived here for three years before the Romans breached the fortress.

The Romans took about 3 months to build a siege ramp to enter Masada using the captured Jewish people and soldiers to build this monster ramp up the mountain. It is still there today as you can see in the photographs.

 

Person walking on siege ramp at Masada Israel
Person walking down siege ramp at Masada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sadly as the Romans came close to breaching the fortress, the inhabitants decided they would rather die at their own hands than having their wives raped, babies were thrown off the palace walls, and be tortured. Because they didn’t believe in suicide, each man killed his own family. The men then drew straws as to who would kill the men.  The last man committed suicide. Upon entering the fortress what the Romans found was over 900 dead men, women, and children.

When we toured Masada they had found jars of food if you can believe it, that was still edible from Herod’s storehouses that we saw! Both here and in Qumran, the engineering of the water system was amazing. Clouds from the Mediterranean would bump up to the higher mountains west of Qumran and Masada causing flash floods to come down the mountains.

In EnGedi it created a haven of springs for David, in Qumran and Masada it allowed them to build dykes and canals to channel the water and cisterns to store the lifegiving water. 

In the fortress of Masada, we saw a Roman bathhouse that had basically three baths, hot, tepid, and cold. Again the engineering in the walls created a heating and cooling system that was amazing! Mosaic tiles are still in place in some areas. There were many rooms of the fortress for various purposes including living quarters for all those serving Herod. Herod’s actual palace was built on three rock terraces down the mountainside! Eventually, it was vacated and became a refuge for the Jews.

 

Pricilla Shirer wrote a women’s Bible study called “The Armor of God”. (This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.) She describes in her book taking her children to a carnival where games were set up in the trunks of cars or the back of trucks. One particular game was a board with holes carved into it that allowed a puppet to pop out and the children had to hit the puppet back down into the hole. Of course, another would pop out of the next hole and another and so on. One child waiting for his turn, being frustrated, ran and pulled off the covering of the game to reveal a group of adults pushing the puppets through the various holes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hilarious experience (read her book and the CDs she is very funny!) to describe the spiritual warfare taking place that we cannot see. We think we are hitting the puppets, but the real culprit was the adults pushing them up. I love her illustration and think about it all the time. Especially these days that are so disturbing and crazy.

The kids rioting on college campus’s women marching using filthy language and promoting the killing of babies. Look beneath, the covers and you will see there is a real battle taking place.

Many years ago, my Mom encouraged me to read a book by Frank Peretti called “This Present Darkness”. This book provides a vivid, dramatic picture of the war raging between God’s angels and Satan’s demons in the heavenly realms. Christians, Believers this war is raging now. Let’s fall to our knees humbly in prayer and supplication for our Father to rescue us from the danger that is now befalling our great nation.

Ephesians 6:10-18 – Put on the FULL armor OF GOD

 

 

 

 

Before You Go, Check Out My Other Articles:

Visiting The Holy Land – To see the rest of this journey here

 

Debbie

Debbie lives in Southern California with her husband Doug and her children and grandchildren.


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