Today we start our adventures hiking the snake trail or riding the cable car to the summit of Masada. Masada means “stronghold” in Hebrew which is evident when you see this amazing fortress sitting on a cliff overlooking the Dead Sea. Herod the Great added a palace and fortification intending it to be his “summer palace” but likely didn’t use it as such. The elaborate water-supply system he built made it an ideal fortress to withstand long sieges. That ability is why Masada had its most memorable event in history. In the first century, during the first revolt against Rome, rebel forces fled Jerusalem to Masada. They lived in Masada for two years before the Romans laid siege and finally the rebels, knowing their situation was hopeless, committed suicide instead of falling into Roman hands. Masada is a great visual of a stronghold in which we can apply to our relationship with God, in that He is Our stronghold!
Not far from Masada is one of the most surprising places to come upon, En Gedi. It’s a beautiful, lush oasis in the middle of the desert. Hiking into the small canyon it goes from rocky desert to green vegetation and striking water falls. En Gedi was also known as a place of refuge, like when David, after fleeing Saul, sought refuge within its caves. (1 Samuel 24:3-4) With the cool water and the surrounding cliffs I can see why David and many others sought refuge in En Gedi.
Next up is considered one of the oldest cities in the world, Jericho. It’s often debated between Jericho and Damascus, but we know Jericho plays a huge role in the quest for the Israelites to conquer the land of Israel. After Moses’s death, Joshua leads the Israelites across the Jordan River to conquer Jericho. God gives him specific instructions in which they were to follow in order to claim it. (Joshua 6) Jericho continues to be mentioned throughout the bible, and even though the physical place of the city was different, even Jesus visited Jericho during His earthly ministry.