Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Byzantine Church on Masada

When visiting Masada I suggest that you take the path less traveled up to the Guard Tower to the left of the entrance to the palace area. From this watch towner you get a wonderful 360 degree view of Masada. Looking south you see the Roman army barracks followed by the Byzantine Church and Western Palace. Below is a quote from the Monk John Moschus who visited and wrote about this church in 600 CE. "Near the Dead Sea is a mountain called Marda. On this mountain live hermits who have a vegitable garden six miles away near the seashore Whenever the hermits wish to send out to the garden for vegetables. they harness a donkey and tell it, "'go to the garden and bring us vegetables.' and it goes down quite alone to the gardener. Every day one can see the donkey ascending and decending on its own and serving the elders."wa Why did the monks settle in the ruins of a fortress in the heart of the desert? In the desert they sought the tranqulity that would bring them closer to the Creator. The cells of the monks who lived on Masada in the 5th to 7th centuriesCE were scattered all over the mountain in small buildings , in caves and in cisterns that had gone out of use. There they communicated with the Creator in isolation, and here, in the church, they gathered to worship together. The courtyard of the chruch, in whichsome domestic installations were found, was walled. Water was brought here the cisterns on the slopes and from renovated cisterns on the summit.

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