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Massada

Massada, a palace-fortress Herod the Great built to last forever, is built on a desert plateau and was a refuge for Jewish rebels in the century of Jesus

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Massada photo by Alberto Peral

Massada is a lofty plateau in a spectacular desert setting overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a palace-fortress Herod the Great built to last forever, a refuge for Jewish rebels in the century of Jesus, and later for Christian monks, and a World Heritage Site. All these elements make Massada a must on any Christian itinerary.

 

Less than 40 years after Jesus was crucified, at the beginning of the Great Revolt against the Romans, Jewish rebels took over Massada. In contrast to Jesus’ instruction to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s” (Luke 20:25), the rebels believed in zero-tolerance for Roman rule. They were surrounded by the Roman army, which left behind the most complete siege works in the world. After the Romans prevailed, the historian Josephus relates that the rebels took their own lives rather than become slaves. This act has made Massada a symbol of the human spirit’s yearning for freedom. For Christian visitors in particular, Massada gives greater understanding of this era of conflict that was the backdrop to Jesus’ ministry.

 

The Israel Nature and Parks Protection Authority has expertly restored Massada’s fascinating ruins; The brilliant colors of the frescoes of Herod’s cliff-hanging Northern Palace gleam brightly again, helping visitors understand what Jesus meant when he spokes of  palaces (Matt. 22:2), or imagine the scene at the beheading of John (Matt. 14:6). Massada’s latest attraction is its fabulous new museum. The precious finds displayed in its nine dramatically lit rooms, along with life-size statues, help visitors picture not only the last moments of the 960 souls at Massada, but also the lives they built here.

 

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