Masada is located atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a huge fort, a stockpile of amenities for that day and age. There are terraces, synagogues, bath houses, huge cisterns, and palaces. It is high on a hill. We hiked the walls and halls of this structure of ancient rock I was especially intrigued by the stories our guide told about the value of this fort and all the things that took place there.
On the east side, the rock wall drops 450 meters to the Dead Sea and on the western edge it stands about 100 meters above the surrounding terrain.
It was built by King Herod the Great at 37 BCE as a refuge. He never did use it much. Jewish families 73 CE fled there after the fall of Jerusalem. Huge Roman armies tried to get through this impenetrable fort. The story ends with a mass suicide. The Jews took their own lives rather than risk becoming slaves to the Romans.
We observed how it was resourcefully built and heard story after story.. We saw how they were able to get water in the desert, and where they worshipped, where they ate and bathed. It stirred my imagination. We were very hot and got tired. We had bottles of water and shade to sit in at just the proper times. (Note the photo on the right) When we got back on the bus to the air-conditioning, I made a gratitude list in the form of a poem:
From my journal:
In the promised land, God gives
Long paths to beautiful places
Shoes, to hike the paths
Sweat, to cool the body
Cool water, to replenish
Waves of emotion
His stability, for my soul
Weariness, to keep me humble
Shade and relief, in good time
Lostness, to know my desperation
Rescue, to understand God's care
A need, to feel his presence
A breeze, that brushes my cheek
A "date", to share his "stomping grounds"
The stars, to make me look up
Awe and wonder
And grace abundant.
Yep, I was feeling grateful for the whole trip. Now I am hungry to read more about Masada.