THROUGH THE JUDEAN DESERT AND ALONG THE DEAD SEA TO QUMRAN AND MASADA
We’ll start descending from the Jerusalem Mountains into the Judean Desert full of breathtaking views that are constantly changing. Mountains, cliffs, and chalk hills stand alongside plateaus, riverbeds, and deep canyons. The width and breadth of the desert is crossed by several rivers that have created canyons up to 500 meters deep. The ancient cliffs on the eastern edge of the desert tower to a height of 300 meters above the shore of the Dead Sea, like an ancient castle walls.
Here over 2000 years ago Ancient Jews built two World Heritage sites which we’ll visit today - Masada and Qumran. Qumran, the place where the Dead Sea Scrolls have been found, will be our first stop. Here, standing among the 2,000 year-old ruins, overlooking the Dead Sea on the edge of the Judean Wilderness, visitors gain deeper appreciation for the Dead Sea Scrolls, containing the oldest Bible ever found, and discovered right here. The uncovering of the remains of the settlement of Qumran, and the Dead Sea Scrolls found nearby (which, perhaps, is the most important archaeological discovery of the twentieth century), has immediately ignited the imagination of both Jews and Christians. In addition to the oldest copies of the Hebrew Scriptures ever found and scrolls pertaining to the ancient community known as the “Together” (“Yahad” in Hebrew), numerous other objects depict the daily life and way of thinking of the Qumran’s inhabitants.
Our way will further lead us along the shores of the Dead Sea to Masada. Masada, a dramatically located site of great natural beauty overlooking the Dead Sea, is a rugged natural fortress on which the Judaean King Herod the Great constructed his sumptuous palace complex huge stores and even swimming pools. One of the most exciting and frequently-toured places in Israel, Masada relates a story of perseverance and power, faith and surrender, ambitions, and finally - of a tragic end. Massada is a place where battles were waged with rocks and flaming arrows, as well as battles of the human spirit for the spiritual freedom and freedom of faith. This dramatic place became the last refuge of the survivors of the Jewish revolt against the Romans. And here, after three years of unequal fight, they chose death rather than slavery when the Roman besiegers broke through their defenses. As such it has an emblematic value and, possibly, questionable, example, for all the Humanity till today.