Masada was a desert fortress built by Herod the great. As a response to personal threats early in his life, Herod became obsessed with the construction of grand buildings with particularly strong points for his own safety. Alongside Masada thses included: Macherus on the east of the Dead Sea in Jordan, Herodius near Bethelehem, Caesarea Maritine on the western seaboard, the temple and other buildings in Jerusalem, a building at Macpelah at Hebron and an elaborate palace structure at Jericho.
The man’s building prowess is extra-ordinary! The details and engineering within the buildings were astonishing. On the northern end of the plateau at Masada Herod built a three tiered palace for himself overlooking the vast vistas of the northern Dead Sea.
After the death of Herod, some of the final last stands of the Jewish zealots happened at Masada. Vast storerooms of grain, and sufficient water collected in vast ccisterns and clever rain harvesting through conduits meant that long term resistence to seige could be undertaken here. But the roman garrisons were able to the task. Building long stone ramps leading up to the walls, the romans were finally able to break into the stronghold. Remains of these ramps remain very clearly at the site today, and walls surrounding one of the roman camps can be seen in the following photograph at the base of Masada
Within the stronghold were Mikva’ot, the cleansing places for the Jewish people. This ceremonial structure allowed the washing of the people before religious tasks. It was used extensively to remove the taint of disease, reproductive issues of women, the ceremonial cleaning for men before sacrifice, the washing of utensils for eating and within the tasks for the conversion of the proselyte. But the Jewish nation had lost the concept of spiritual cleanliness. To wash the outside of the platter, and not clean the heart made a mockery of holiness. The nation had become a leprous house, and should have searched whether there was plague with their heart 1Kings 8:38 So in the fall of the northern tribes, and language so often used by the Lord of the nation at AD70, “I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up into your nostrils, yet ye have not returned to me saith Yahweh Amos 4:10 “I will slay the last of them with the sword, he that fleeth of them shall not flee away and he that excapeth of them shall not be delivered… though they climb to heaven thence will I bring them down” Amos 9:1,2
But the disaster of AD70 and the destruction of the zealots is not the end of the picture. “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” Amos 9:8 God would “destory all the sinners of my people” Amos 9:10 but would raise up again the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, that they shall possess the remnant of Edom (Herod an Idumean!) and of all the heathen that is not called by my name. Here was a a wonderful opportunity for gentiles to be included within the camp of Israel, realised with God would bring agin the captivity of his people. Masada stands as a silent witness to the terrible wrath of God against the sin of his people, and also a silent witness of the end of gentile people that call on his name with his nation.