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Masada (Hebrew for fortress), is situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty.
According to Josephus Flavius, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress.
The name 'Dead Sea' is actually a kinder, gentler translation from the Hebrew name 'Yam ha Maved', which means, 'Killer Sea'. The surface of the Dead Sea is over 1,300 feet below sea level. The very bottom of the sea, in the deepest part, is over 2,300 feet below sea level. The Dead Sea has some of the most saline water on earth; as much as 35% of the water is dissolved salts! That's almost six times as salty as the ocean! The Dead Sea is completely landlocked and it gets saltier with increasing depth. The surface, fed by the River Jordan, is the least saline.
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