THE JUDEAN DESERT

  

KUMRAN-EIN GEDI

In 1947, a young Bedouin man discovered in a cave some jars which contained some very ancient manuscripts.

These manuscripts where the famous "The Dead Sea Manuscripts". These scrolls belonged to the Jewish cult of the Essenians who

had retired into the desert in order to study the sacred scriptures.

This discovery of the passages from the prophet Isaiah is a landmark to prove the veracity of the Bible.

Ein Guedi also appears a couple of times in the Bible, in the book of Song of Songs for example.

It is in this place that, according to Tradition, David would have fled from the king Saul. 

Suggested Itinerary:

* Visit of Kumran: History and Archeology of the place

* Ein Guedi: Bathing and walk in the Wadi of David or Arugot

    

 

MASADA

Built in the 2nd century BC, at the time of the Maccabees, the Masada fortress overlooks the banks of the Dead Sea.

It is the last sign of Jewish resistance to Roman occupation.

Members of the extremist cult of the zelots found their refuge in the fortress after they had brought terror in the country.

This group numbered a thousand souls, with their wives and children. They were under the leading of Eleazar ben Jair, and for three years they fought against more than 15000 roman legionnaires. After what, they committed suicide.

Historian Josephus Flavius gives us an overlook on this terrible battle:

"...for the husbands tenderly embraced their wives, and took their children into their arms, and gave the longest parting kisses to them, with tears in their eyes. Yet at the same time did they complete what they had resolved on, as if they had been executed by the hands of strangers; and they had nothing else for their comfort but the necessity they were in of doing this execution, to avoid that prospect they had of the miseries they were to suffer from their enemies. Nor was there at length any one of these men found that scrupled to act their part in this terrible execution, but every one of them despatched his dearest relations. Miserable men indeed were they! whose distress forced them to slay their own wives and children with their own hands, as the lightest of those evils that were before them. So they being not able to bear the grief they were under for what they had done any longer, and esteeming it an injury to those they had slain, to live even the shortest space of time after them, they presently laid all they had upon a heap, and set fire to it.

They then chose ten men by lot out of them to slay all the rest; every one of whom laid himself down

by his wife and children on the ground, and threw his arms about them, and they offered their necks to the stroke of those who by lot executed that melancholy office; and when these ten had, without fear, slain them all, they made the same rule for casting lots for themselves, that he whose lot it was should first kill the other nine, and after all should kill himself.

Accordingly, all these had courage sufficient to be no way behind one another in doing or suffering; so, for a conclusion, the nine offered their necks to the executioner, and he who was the last of all took a view of all the other bodies, lest perchance some or other among so many that were slain should want his assistance to be quite despatched, and when he perceived that they were all slain, he set fire to the palace, and with the great force of his hand ran his sword entirely through himself, and fell down dead near to his own relations..."

 

Suggested itinerary:

* Visit and history of Masada

* Lunch at the Minerals Beach or Ein Bokek

* Bathing in the Dead Sea