Home > Faith, Post A Week 2012, Spirituality > Day 5 – Highs and Lowest

Day 5 – Highs and Lowest

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Dec 10

By the time I fall into bed at night, I can hardly believe how much we cram into one day. Day 5 was easier though—three stops. Two major sites. We drove one and one-half hours to Masada, the site of the luxurious mountain fortress of King Herod the Great. It is also the site where Romans besieged 960 Jewish people after the Great Revolt ended in 70 CE. The defenders of Masada held out for three years. Eventually, when it was evident that the Romans would breach Masada’s walls, the Jews, refusing to be captured—which would have meant a life of slavery—thwarted their pursuer’s plans by committing mass suicide.

Masada - the mountain fortress

Masada – the mountain fortress

We reached Mount Masada by a slow, steady ride in a cable car. Below, we observed the more robust visitors making their way up the rock face by foot. On the mountain and into the Masada museum, we watched a short film on the history of Masada before touring the expansive fortress in the Judean Desert. Looking down we could see the remains of the military camps, siege works and an attack ramp, the physical evidence of the persistence of the Roman army.

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In its original form, Herod’s palace had all of the lavish amenities of an ancient royal residence including mosaic floors, wall paintings, reception halls and bathing facilities. That’s right—an advanced, sophisticated water system capable of sustaining the population at the palace on top of a mountain in the desert. Looking over the Judean desert, one can imagine the Biblical accounts of David fleeing from King Saul in En Gedi or the Good Samaritan assisting the unfortunate man he encountered by the side of the road.

At Qumran we visited the site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. Where there’s a site, there is a museum, right? Actually, the museum provided additional information, and I wish we had more time to allow for exploration of its treasures. But another treasure awaited—the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea

Dead Sea

Let’s just say the excitement level of the group increased dramatically as we approached the Dead Sea. This was my second visit to the Dead Sea and it was fun to watch first-time reactions. Floating in the Dead Sea is different from any other water experience. Besides the floaters, other bathers coated themselves head to toe in the mineral-rich mud. I headed to the cosmetics store and loaded my store basket with Dead Sea goodies. One of the salesmen treated me to a fingernail buffing and a mini deep cleaning for my skin. My one regret is not treating myself to the wildly expensive cleansing/moisturizing product by AHAVA. He took my hand and brushed on the grainy mud-like substance and allowed it to sit for a moment. While touting the benefits of the product, he removed it with a cloth-covered magnet leaving my skin so soft I couldn’t stop touching it. I wish I had thrown my budget to the wind and bought a jar of it. Oh well, next time.

at the Dead Sea

at the Dead Sea

Last night in Jerusalem. On to the coast.

———
Read more about Masada: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/masada.html and http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1040

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