Dead Sea, Masada, Camel riding, Bedouins
22.11.2011 - 22.11.2011
This morning my roommate and I got up early to see the sunrise over the Dead Sea from our hotel window. It was a good start to the day! The big orange, burning desert sun was a sight to be seen!
After another very big breakfast we jumped on the bus to head to Masada. Masada is a rock fortress to the west of the Dead Sea. This was a site used as a fortress by Herod in 40BC. The site rises 470 meters above the Dead Sea, with cliffs around the side – perfect for protection from enemies.1
Although not mentioned in the Bible, Masada can give us an insight into how Herod would have lived around the time of Jesus. We can see his rule and power throughout Israel. This site is no different. It is extravagent. As we rose up the mountain in a cable car, it became clear why this place was chosen. It was high, visability was good and it was hard for the enemies to scale the cliffs.
The photo on the right shows an ancient sauna. The heat would rise up through the pipes in the wall.
A highlight for me was going down into the underground cistern. It took about 100 steps to get down to, and into a massive cave like hole in the ground. The beams of light from the roof looked cool! We also saw his bathing area, houses and synagogue. The view from the top of the mountain was fantastic! We could see many kilometers of small desert mountains all around us.
It was interesting to note that Herod probably didn’t spend a lot of time at this palace, it was more of a back up palace for him.
After leaving Masada, we headed to a Bedouin tent for lunch. We did camel riding. I haven’t ridden a camel since I fell off one in grade 2. It was a bit of a scary experience for me, but I’m glad I did it! A Bedouin spoke to us about their way of life. He said the 2 most important things to their lives is honour to other people, and hospitality to people. He spoke to us as we drank sweet tea and coffee, being looked after well just like they have done for thousands of years. It was a bit sad to hear that their tradition is dying out – their kids are going to normal schools, and they are settling a lot more permenantly than in the past. The man talking to us was clearly disappointed when explaining this situation. I don’t think he liked the fact that his sons enjoy facebook a lot more than spending time giving honour to his family!
We had meat, bread and rice. The meal was ok, not the tastiest I’ve had before though! We headed back on the bus to the hotel and enjoyed a spa, sauna and swim in the pool. A good day!
1 A. Negev (ed), Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land (London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972) 196.