Revisiting Israel - Day Four (Part three)
The stronghold of Masada was likely once home to David and his men. In Roman times King Herod built quite a palace there. The rocks are large, kind of an orange brown. At one time the walls and floor were plastered smooth and decorated with colorful designs. The floors were mosaic tile. This picture shows a bit of the vibrant place this once was. Masada collected water mainly from flash floods and rain, which they caught and redirected through a dam, aqueducts which are no longer there, and cisterns. The rock is limestone, which is porous, so they plastered it smooth to prevent the water from seeping away.
The place is much bigger than I pictured. It is easy now to see how a whole community of people could have lived here as long as they had food and water. I’m not sure where they would have grown food unless they traveled to the valley and brought it back up the mountain. Herod built huge storage facilities to feed his large retinue, so if others who came here could have collected as much, they could have holed up here for a long time.
The weather was unseasonably warm for this time of year, which was actually still winter for them. Israel is also suffering a drought right now, which showed in En Gedi’s depleted water pool.
Herod’s private quarters faced north, which was the coolest place on the mountain. Like his palace by the Mediterranean, Herod spared no expense in creating a massive hideaway. Herod was known for a bit of paranoia, making him choose places that would make it hard for his enemies to find him. Masada was definitely a good place for such a stronghold. They are not sure, however, whether Herod actually used this place as it was only one of many such palaces.
An hour and a half after we arrived at Masada, we took the cable car back down the mountain, though some in our group decided to take the very long stairs, and headed to En Gedi where we went to the Crags of the Ibex (wild goats).
I had hoped to visit the waterfall and the caves where David once stayed, but our tour didn’t take us there. We could only see the place from a distance. Randy was still able to get some decent pictures, but I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed.
This area happens to be the spot where David met Saul and cut off part of his robe, as recorded in 1 Samuel 24. This week as I worked on Abigail I came upon this scene. It would have been even better if I could have gotten closer to the site, but being there truly did help me see it better. Sometimes I wish our guide would have talked a little less and allowed us to explore more. But I suppose it is a balance. Maybe on our next visit… :)
You can probably tell from this picture that the oasis isn’t as green or lush as it could be. I’ve seen other pictures of En Gedi that were prettier, and I think it has to do with the drought, as I said above. When David lived here the waterfall and pool would have been deeper and fuller. But since I can’t time travel, I had to settle for what is available to see today and what I can imagine. Our next stop was the Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Wilderness of Judah. But more on that next time…for now, as this is the end of Good Friday, we are heading to church for a late night service to reflect on all our Lord did for us in this land we so recently visited. The passion of Christ is so much more real after having seen the place. Not that it wasn’t real before – it was. But now, being there somehow makes it even more so. Until next time…shalom~