Today we left early and headed out to the sight known as Masada. Masada is a fortress/palace that crazy old Herod the Great built. He was basically a paranoid prepper type who had several fortresses built in case he ever needed to flee Jerusalem and survive the Roman coming after him. However, when he built a place to run and hide in he went all out! Dude spared no expense and did things in such ridiculous grandeur because he wanted to prove he was greater than God himself, seriously. Megalomaniac of the first order. Fun times. Also, he was ridiculously fat and killed his own children. And one last thing, he had his wife killed and encased in honey so he could cart her around with him. Bizarro! If you think "the world his going to hell in a hand basket and things have never been worse" then you are sorely mistaken, but that is rant for another time.
Masada is a fortress built on an enormous mountain that is a huge pain to get up and an even bigger pain to attack. Also, it's in the freaking desert. Here is a pic from the bottom. We took a cable car to get to the top.
We walked down, this is a pic near the top as the cable car heads back down. It's a long walk. That little city looking thing you see at the bottom is where I took the first pic.
It is very beautiful at the top. Reminiscent of the Grand Canyon. That's my friend Jason Patchell. This fortress was so well stocked that words don't do it justice. 400 people could have lived up there for 10 years. Lots of dried food. 17 Giant rooms filled with it, and because of the extremely dry climate the food would keep almost indefinitely. So what about water? There were 2 streams at the bottom that hardly every have water in them, but when they do, they almost immediately filled up numerous cisterns that would be plenty of water for the community for a very long time. But just in case those cisterns ran out..........
....... there was this giant cistern they dug, plastered and filled. I can't really explain how big this is. You could put 500 people in this thing easily and it is incredibly tall. During Herod's time, it was totally full of water. And it was filled by humans, not sure how entirely, but it must have taken years, years I tell you! Mind numbing. Here is the best part of Masada though, Herod never even came here!!!!!
....... this is another view from the top.....
There is more to the story of Masada. After the time of Christ some Jewish zealot types took it over and had a big fight with the Romans. The Romans lay siege to the place for three months and built a huge dirt ramp up to attack them. Once the rebels realized they were going to lose to the Romans they all killed themselves. No happy ending.
Next we headed further up the coast of the Dead Sea to the sight called Qumran where some dudes called Essenes lived. They were hardcore monks around the time of Christ and they were serious about their scribal work. They had a very strict community and they stored lots of copies of the scripture and other writings in the caves in the area as pictured below. In 1947 some dudes happened into these caves and discovered these scrolls, which are copies of many old testament scrolls that predate Jesus. The oldest copies ever found. Big deal. Also, John the Baptist may have lived with these dudes before he started his ministry. May have.
Next we were on to the Dead Sea to swim. All I have to say is this is a must do. Everyone is a world champion floater in the Dead Sea. You can point your feet straight down, hold your arms at your side and your head will not go under water. It is a very cool feeling. Extremley salty is a gross understatement. Ocean water is a 3-4% salt content. Great Salt Lake in Utah is 12% salt content. Dead Sea is 30% salt content. If it touches your eyes you will scream in pain. It's drying up and shrinking but don't worry, it is 1800 feet deep in the middle. It's got a few thousand years to go. Deepest place on earth. bam!