We traveled today to Masada, a natural mesa near the western shore of the Dead Sea whose name means “stronghold” in Hebrew. It is a world heritage site and a symbol of strength and pride for Israelis. The quick history is that when Jerusalem fell to the Romans in AD66, many Jewish patriots fled to Masada, a seemingly impregnable fortress which had been built years earlier by Herod and then abandoned. They survived there for about 3 years until there seemed no more hope of holding off the Romans. To prevent themselves from becoming slaves to the Romans and captured, they killed each other and left only a few women and children to tell the tale for history. When Masada began to be excavated in modern times in archaelogical digs, they found some of the early parts of Dead Sea scrolls as well. We took a cable car up to the top (Meme too!) and walked around the amazing site. Martha and her cousin Merri hiked to the top, no small feat. They are now proud owners of Masada is conquered t-shirts. We then returned to the hotel, changed into bathing suits and swam in the Dead Sea. It was amazing, and I am so glad I did it. It was clean and you truly just lie on top if you want, without moving a muscle. Marsha, Merri, Martha, Kent–just about everyone went in. The ones who didn’t want to swim waded for a while and then hung out on the beach with everyone for a couple of hours. It was a true memory and even Meme went down to check it out (no she chose not to float on the water 🙂
Tomorrow we head to Qumran, on the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. It was a small settlement during the time of Christ, and it is here that the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in 1947. It is surmised that the scrolls were hidden here around the time of the Masada events to prevent the Romans from finding and destroying them. We head to Bethlehem and Jerusalem tomorrow after a Sunday morning worship service outside with Kent. Three Israeli soldiers in lobby this afternoon-just hanging out in uniforms and armed-no big deal 🙂 good night from the Dead Sea, Karen

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