Such a unique experience!
On the eastern fringe of the Judean wilderness next to the Dead Sea is a fortress on the top of a mountain named Masada. Herod the Great chose this location as a place of refuge and as a winter palace. This is the same Herod who was responsible for killing the babies of Bethlehem.
The place and location are amazing. To get there, you once had to climb the “snake path” that wound up through the mountains back and forth. Josephus described the path as something so terrifying that it would make the bravest man shake.
Now there is a cable car that takes you up to the top.
When we got to the top we heard about the Jewish rebels who stood against Rome during the first century revolution. It was quite a story! The Romans could not get to Masada. It is so high in the mountains. The Jews had enough resources stored in the city to last for 12 years. The Romans were so frustrated that they built walls all around the base of the mountain just out of reach of arrows. They couldn’t figure out how to breach the walls of the palace, but then they had an idea… They used Jewish slaves to built an enormous ramp. The Jews in Masada would not fire on their “brothers” so the ramp construction was completed near enough for the Romans to use a battering ram and get into the city.
Knowing that they would be defeated and would become Roman slaves, the Jews in Masada organized a mass suicide. Every man would kill his wife and children, then 10 men (chosen by lot) would kill the men. Finally 1 man would kill the other 9 and fall on his own sword. They did this so that they could die as free men and not allow the Romans to take their most precious resource -their own lives.
I cannot imagine being in that situation.
This has also been the location of many Dead Sea scrolls discoveries. Only one scroll was found in the Synagogue, and it was the passage of Ezekiel 37. Perhaps it was read during the last meeting as a hope of dead bones being raised back to life.