Masada is a rugged natural fortress, of majestic beauty, in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a symbol of the ancient kingdom of Israel, its violent destruction and the last stand of Jewish patriots in the face of the Roman army, in 73 A.D. It was built as a palace complex, in the classic style of the early Roman Empire, by Herod the Great, King of Judea, (reigned 37 – 4 B.C.). The camps, fortifications and attack ramp that encircle the monument constitute the most complete Roman siege works surviving to the present day. After Judea became a province of the Roman Empire, it was the refuge of the last survivors of the Jewish revolt, who chose death rather than slavery when the Roman besiegers broke through their defenses. As such it has an emblematic value for the Jewish people. It is also an archaeological site of great significance. The remains of Herod's palaces are outstanding and very intact examples of this type of architecture, whilst the untouched siege works are the finest and most complete anywhere in the Roman world. The Masada complex, built by Herod the Great, King of Judea, who reigned between 37 BCE and 4 CE, and particularly the "hanging" palace with its three terraces, is an outstanding example of opulent architectural design, elaborately engineered and constructed in extreme conditions. The palace on the northern face of the dramatic mountain site consists of an exceptional group of classical Roman Imperial buildings. The water system was particularly sophisticated, collecting run-off water from a single day's rain to sustain life for a thousand people over a period of two to three years. This achievement allowed the transformation of a barren, isolated, arid hilltop into a lavish royal retreat. When this natural defensive site, further strengthened by massive walls, was occupied by survivors of the Jewish Revolt against Roman rule, it was successfully besieged by a massive Roman army. The military camps, siege works and an attack ramp that encircle the site, and a network of legionary fortresses of quadrilateral plan, are the most complete anywhere in the Roman world. Masada is a poignant symbol of the continuing human struggle between oppression and liberty.
The Dead Sea (Hebrew: יָם הַמֶּלַח, Yam ha-Melah, "Sea of Salt", also Hebrew: יָם הַמָּוֶת, Yam ha-Mavet, "The Sea of Death", and Arabic: البحر الميت About this sound Al-Bahr al-Mayyit (help·info)), also called the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordered by Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west. Its surface and shores are 429 metres (1,407 ft) below sea level, Earth's lowest elevation on land. The Dead Sea is 304 m (997 ft) deep, the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. With 34.2% salinity (in 2011), it is 9.6 times as salty as the ocean, and one of the world's saltiest bodies of water. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which plants and animals cannot flourish, hence its name. The Dead Sea is 50 kilometers (31 mi) long and 15 kilometers (9 mi) wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley and its main tributary is the Jordan River.
The Dead Sea water has a density of 1.24 kg/liter, which makes swimming similar to floating.
Dwelling in caves near the Dead Sea is recorded in the Hebrew Bible as having taken place before the Israelites came to Canaan, and extensively at the time of King David.
Just northwest of the Dead Sea is Jericho. Somewhere, perhaps on the southeastern shore, would be the cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis which were said to have been destroyed in the time of Abraham: Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18) and the three other "Cities of the Plain", Admah, Zeboim and Zoar (Deuteronomy 29:23). Zoar escaped destruction when Abraham's nephew Lot escaped to Zoar from Sodom (Genesis 19:21-22). Before the destruction, the Dead Sea was a valley full of natural tar pits, which was called the vale of Siddim. King David was said to have hidden from Saul at Ein Gedi nearby.
In Ezekiel 47:8-9 there is a specific prophecy that the sea will ".. be healed and made fresh", becoming a normal lake capable of supporting marine life. A similar prophecy is stated in Zechariah 14:8, which says that "Living waters will go out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea (likely the Dead Sea) and half to the western sea (the Mediterranean)..."
Kaddish (Mourner's Prayer)
Kaddish (Angelic Instrumental)
By Dhruva Aliman
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