Today started in the Dead Sea and then we were off to a crazy historical sight. We visited the ancient city of Masada on the very top of a mountain range. This isn’t anything significant in the Bible but it is a crazy story of a group of first century Jews who defied the Romans to the very end. When it was evident that they would be captured and turned into slaves, the entire community of Jews committed suicide instead. You can read about the crazy story here.
Since it was a walled city on the top of a mountain, it was extremely difficult to attack the city. Roman soldiers pulled it off by building a giant dirt ramp up to the entry and then building a siege tower with a battering ram on top. The pictures below show what remains of this attack today.
They actually made a six hour movie about the story of Masada. They left the base of the siege ramp from the movie on site at Masada to give you a feel for what it looked like and how massive of an undertaking this would have been.
They found coins at Masada that would have been considered “mites.” This would have been the prop for one of Jesus’ powerful observations to His disciples.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
Next we stopped by a Bedouin camp in the middle of the desert and rode on camels. I had experienced camels before on my trip to Egypt and these ones were slightly less angry than I had seen there. If you’ve ever ridden a camel you understand how bizarre of an experience this is.
After our near-death experience with camels we headed to the ancient city of Beersheba. You may have heard of this city as it is often mentioned in the Bible. There was a common saying among the Israelites when it involved “from Dan to Beersheba.” Dan represented the north of the Jews and Beersheba represented the south. Genesis chapter twenty-one tells us about a treaty that Abraham made with a man named Abimelek and then he established this city afterward.
He replied, “Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.” So that place was called Beersheba, because the two men swore an oath there. After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelek and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time. (Genesis 21:30-34)
I took a picture of the well of Beersheba that may have been the one that Abraham dug at this time.
Finally, we got to see the location for one of the most famous scenes in all of the Bible. We drove by the Valley of Elah where the Philistine army matched up against the Israelite army. The two hills in the picture below would have been where each army was stationed and the highway running between them is where the actual battle would have taken place.
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them. (1 Samuel 17:1-3)
Click here to read all of my posts from this Israel trip.