Page 6 - Holyland Magazine - 2023 Edition
P. 6

rather than fall prisoner to the Romans. The
           book was written around the time of Masada’s
           fall, in 73 BCE.
           The story of Masada could have simply faded
           away had the Christian Church not copied and
           preserved Josephus’ book, out of the belief
           that the story of Jerusalem’s destruction and
           the  failure  of the  revolt  against  the  Romans
           was the realization of Jesus’ prophesy. And
           there you have history’s convoluted ways.
                                                                                         Frescoes in Herod’s Palace - ancient art.
           The Jews who survived the destruction of the                                  Photos: Avinoam Michaeli
           Second Temple, headed by Rabban Yochanan
           Ben Zakai, apparently wanted to discard the
           story of Masada, which was not compatible   The corporeal Masada became a coveted   In its genizah (repository for old religious
           with their worldview. Masada was not even   designation. Journeys to it are complex,   items), scroll segments and Chapter 37 of
           mentioned in books such as the Mishna and   perilous  and  last  many  days.  The  flow  of   the Book of Ezekiel, which is the Dry Bones
           the Talmud. It appears only once in a letter                           prophesy were discovered.
           from the days of the Bar Kochva revolt.  people ascending the mountain increases,
                                              and the myth of Masada continues to entrench
           The story of the mass suicide at Masada   itself into people’s hearts. The motto is that of   A moving nighttime audiovisual show is
           takes a turn in the book Yosifun, written during   a war of freedom, not suicide.  screened in an open theater at the foot of the
           the tenth century by a Jew under the alias                             mountain and depicts the story of Masada with
           Joseph Ben Gurion, and extracted from the   Life comes back to the mountain   lights and sounds at sunset. Visitors arriving
           Latin translations of Flavius’ book, adapted to   A current tour of Masada enables you to touch   from the east (Road 90) can enjoy a gallery and
           the worldview of the Jewish sages. While the   times of yore. You cannot remain indifferent to   display of the history of Masada. From here,
           physical Masada was forgotten, it lived on in   the history and the plethora of buildings and   you can ride the cable car to the top.
           the annals of history.             findings on and around the mountain plateau:
                                              palaces, mosaics and murals, mikvehs (Jewish   Just a few years ago, the Yigael Yadin Masada
           In the nineteenth century, with the birth of   ritual baths), sophisticated water systems, a   Museum was opened. It houses findings from
           research and intense interest in the Holy Land   synagogue and beit midrash (Jewish house of   archaeological  excavations.  The  visit  offers
           and the Dead Sea area, American researcher   learning), monks’ caves and a church, baths   a unique and innovative type of time travel,
           Edward Robinson identified the Masada rock   and a Roman blockade that survived intact   by  presenting  the  archaeological  findings  in
           (1838), which until then was called something   and is the only one of its type in the world. A   their historical context on a three dimensional
           completely different by the Bedouins living in   history of two millennia, covered in dust and   theatrical background, which adds depth to
           the area.                          rubble.                             the evidence and an exciting experience for
                                                                                  the visitor.
           In the early twentieth century, Masada was   In recent history however, Masada has been
           restored to consciousness by two literary   experiencing a rebirth. Mosaics and frescoes   In the middle of 2011, a spacious and modern
           articles: Jacob Naphtali Simchoni’s Hebrew   that were preserved are being restored, and   entertainment  and  shopping  complex  was
           translation of Josephus Flavius’ The Wars of   three dimensional models and signs are being   launched, the largest in the Dead Sea area.
           the Jews, and Yitzhak Lamdan’s heroic poem   placed on the mountain, helping the average   It is designed in an old world style and has a
           Masada. The story of Masada evoked in the   tourist understand. Torah scrolls have been   huge restaurant that seats more than 1,000,
           poem reignites the imagination. The most   returned  to  the  guardroom  in  the  ancient   a wide variety of food vendors, shops for
           quoted line from his poem, “Masada shall not   synagogue on the mountain. Many Bar   camping and sports equipment, souvenirs,
           fall again!” nearly became an anthem.  Mitzvah boys read their Torah portions there.   photography, and a foreign currency exchange
                                                 Air view of Masada. Photo: Itamar Grinberg  The complex also has a unique concept shop
                                                                                  called Masada Memories – entirely devoted to
                                                                                  Masada and to the experiences that you can
                                                                                  take home at the end of your thrilling visit to
                                                                                  the mountain.

                                                                                  Because of its universal value, Masada was
                                                                                  declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in
                                                                                  2001. Thousands of visitors from Israel and
                                                                                  worldwide flock to the mountain and despite
                                                                                  the “craze” and the hordes of visitors – the
                                                                                  magic still remains.

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