Exploring Day 2
Today we explored Masada, which was the ancient stronghold located on the southwest side of the Dead Sea. Masada is perched up over 1200 ft above the Dead Sea with an extremely steep trail called "The Snake Path" leading up to its entrance (which provides quite a workout to walk up!). The site was renovated and developed by Herod the Great, and eventually occupied by those who fled from Jerusalem during its fall around 70 AD. The Jewish occupancy was then overcome by a Roman besiegement, which was accomplished by building and using a large siege ramp on the west side of the city.
The summit of Masada sits 190 feet (59 m) above sea level and about 1,500 feet (470 m) above the level of the Dead Sea. The mountain itself is 1950 feet (610 m) long, 650 feet (200 m) wide, 4,250 feet (1330 m) in circumference, and encompasses 23 acres. The “Snake Path” climbs 900 feet (280 m) in elevation. From the west, the difference in height is 225 feet (70 m).
We also visited BeerSheba which was a place Abraham dwelt during his journeying through Canaan. The tell we explored featured a peculiar basement dating to the 8th or 9th century BC. It's possible that this basement represents an old temple within the city that was removed as a result of religious reforms in Judah (likely under Hezekiah).
Beer-Sheva (/bɪərˈʃiːbə/; Hebrew: בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע About this sound Be'er Sheva [beʔeʁˈʃeva]; Arabic: بئر السبع About this sound Bi'ir as-Sab [biːr esˈsabeʕ]) is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the center of the fourth most populous metropolitan area in Israel, the eighth most populous city in Israel with a population of 203,604, and the second largest city with a total of 117,500 dunams (after Jerusalem).
In the Negev desert we stopped at a place to have our Bedouin experience. We rode camels, two people on each, and walked in the desert to a large tent. We were served tea, coffee, and bread while we learned about Beadouin culture.
We ate lunch and explored the ruins of Arad. This ancient Israelite settlement had a large citadel atop a hill overseeing the countryside. Within this citadel was an Israelite temple built according to the instructions in Exodus, complete with the altar and the holy of holies.
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