The Judean Desert

 

 

View of Herodion: Herodion is a volcano shaped mountain, adapted by Herod. A fortress was built on the site, and dirt was dumped on the side to act as a huge retaining wall. Below the mountain of Herodion is the monumental palace and baths, where Herod would entertain his guests.
Herodian during a storm: Herodion stands at 2450 feet above sea level - it is no wonder that the mountain is a good lightning conductor.

The fortress of Herodion is composed of 4 interlinked towers; three of the towers being semicircular with a higher circular tower. The only entrance to the Herodion complex was up 200 marble steps. Pictured here is the tower before the addition of the retaining wall.
Rachel's Tomb: The tomb of Rachel the Matriarch is situated 5 miles south of Jerusalem; she is the only Matriarch not buried in Hebron. Rather, she is buried "on the way to Ephrata which is Bet Lechem" (Genesis 35:19). In Jeremiah 31;15 it says, "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel is crying for her children...." Ramah is identified with the present village of Beit Jalla, situated next to Bethlehem.
In 1841 Moses Montefiore added an antechamber to the tomb which was falling into disrepair. Originally the tomb consisted of 11 stones laid flat with one stone above the others; according to legend the stones were placed by Jacob's 11 sons with Jacob setting the twelfth.

Map of Judean Desert Area: Jerusalem is situated in the north-west of this region; to the south is Bethlehem, Herodion and Hebron, and to the east down the Judean hills is Jericho.
View of Bethlehem: Bethlehem was the birthplace of King David, and it is there that Samuel visits the house of Yishai in order to anoint his shepherd son, David, as king (Samuel I 16:1-13). David succeeded in driving the Philistines out of Bethlehem (Samuel II 23:15), while Rehoboam, Solomon's son, fortified the town. Bethlehem lies to the south of Jerusalem, so fortifying it protected Jerusalem's southern flank. The mountains of Moav, where Ruth was born, are pictured in the background.

While most areas in Israel have undergone incredible changes and modernization in the last 100 years, in the Judean desert some fields are still harvested with a sickle. Contact with the outside world remains small.

 


 

 

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18 Jul 2007 / 3 Av 5767 0