The fortress of Massada was built under King Herod's reign, in the years 36-30 BCE. Massada stands off the west shore of the Dead Sea. The fortress was the last Jewish stand against the Romans until Bar Kochba's rebellion. It was only after a long siege of the fortress that the Jewish zealots capitulated to the Romans, in 73 CE. Pictured here is Massada before a storm.



A Physical Map of the Region: The lake at the center of the map is the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea area is the lowest point on earth, at 400 meters or 1312 feet below sea level.  The Jordan River flows into the north of the Dead Sea. The Sea essentially sits in a desert where there is little rainfall. Amidst all the dryness is an oasis called Ein Gedi.



The Dead Sea is the traditional location of the destroyed cities of Sodom and Gemorrah: "Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and Gemorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and the inhabitants of the cities and that which grew on the ground (Gen. 19:24-25). Before this event, the plain was considered fertile and desirable (Gen. 13:10). Following, the sulphurous remnants became what we know of as the Dead Sea.

Ein Gedi is situated 18km north of Massada. From the Ein Gedi region were produced the most valuable agricultural products in the country, such as dates and persimmons.

Ein Gedi is full of caves, where various armies would camp and hide.  David fled from Saul and built up his army in the stronghold of Ein Gedi (Samuel I: 24). Ein Gedi also occupies a strategic position, being the gateway to Judah, Jericho and the south.





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18 Jul 2007 / 3 Av 5767 0