One of the life changing highlights during a tour to the Holy Land is Masada, the amazing Israeli fortress constructed by King Herod the Great around of 37 and 31 BCE, and later utilized and sustained by Israeli hold-outs against the Roman Empire in 73 CE.
Masada is situated atop of an isolated rock plateaus in the western end of the Judean Desert. On one side of the plateau the sheer drop off is more then 450 meters to the Dead Sea and on another it stands more then 100 meters high above the surrounding terrain. Masada is a natural maid fortress and approaches to the cliff top on foot is extremely difficult. Today Masada is the second most visited tour location in Israel after Jerusalem, and also represents great pride to all Israelis, after all Masada is the location where all young men and women in Israel serving their military duty give an oath saying, "Masada shall not fall again."
On your Christian tour to Israel, you’ll go up to Masada by cable-car to the highest point of the fortress level , and experience the most astonishing view encompassing all of the Judean Desert and the Dead Sea with its brilliant green and blue shade water tones. Tour the principal Synagogue, King Herod's Bathhouse, the storage facility, military quarters, armory, water reservoirs and other archeological excavations atop of Masada.
The rich history of Masada comes primarily from the first century Jewish Roman historian Josephus Flavius. Masada was first ruled by Alexander Jannnaeus in the 1st century BCE, later Herod the Great took over Masada and constructed his royal residence with additional royal palace facilities. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, a group from the Sicarii fled Jerusalem and settled in Masada. In 73 CE, the Roman legion leader of Iudaea Lucius Flavius Silva headed the Roman army X Fretensis of more then 15,000 troops and besieged the fortress. As per Josephus it took the Romans great efforts to climb and enter Masada having to build a 375 foot ramp made from the desert soil which is still visible today.
When the Romans finally entered Masada they found all the Sicarri with the exception of two women and five children had committed mass suicide in a final show of resistance against Roman occupation. Evidence of a great conflagration were found everywhere. The fire was likely set by the last of the zealots before they committed suicide. Josephus Flavius writes that everything was burnt except the food storage facilities – to let the Romans know that it was not hunger that led them to suicide.