Beyond a shadow of a doubt, our visit to Masada was one of the highlights of our entire trip to Israel. Situated with a commanding view of the Dead Sea, this rocky fortress was virtually impenetrable, and standing on top of it gave you an indescribable sense of awe and security. Add on top of this the courage, sacrifice, and bloodshed that was shed here nearly 2,000 years ago during the Jewish Revolt of A.D. 70, and you will always have a place of respect in your heart for Israel’s second most holy site. For almost seven years, Jewish patriots held off the Roman army, which had completely surrounded them, and they would have lasted much longer except for their unwillingness to kill their brethren who had been enslaved by the Romans to build a gigantic rampart up to the walls. In the end, they chose death over enslavement, and their heroic act immortalized them in the minds of both Jews and Romans alike. Today, every Israeli child visits Masada at least once while he is in school, and Israeli soldiers are sworn in on top of this historic monument with this oath:
I swear – I swear – I swear – Masada will never fall again.
One thing, however, that is often overlooked amongst the breath—taking views and impressive ruins of Herod’s palace (built along the side of this fortress), is the fact that Masada is mentioned in the Bible. David took refuge here at least three different times (twice when running from Saul and once when the Philistines sought for him), and he also wrote of Masada in the Psalms (18:1,2; 31:1-3; 71:1,3).
I Samuel 22:3-5 And David went thence to Mizpeh of Moab: and he said unto the king of Moab, Let my father and my mother, I pray thee, come forth, and bewith you, till I know what God will do for me. And he brought them before the king of Moab: and they dwelt with him all the while that David was in the hold.* And the prophet Gad said unto David, Abide not in the hold; depart, and get thee into the land of Judah. Then David departed, and came into the forest of Hareth.
II Samuel 5:17 But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.*
Psalm 31:1-3 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for a house of defense to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress*; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
*The English words hold and fortress are the same Hebrew word for Masada.
While Masada was a temporary place of refuge for David, David understood that his real fortress and security was in God. In Psalm 31:3, David says to God, “Thou art my ‘Masada’.”
*Bible and Spade 22.1 (2009). Pages 16-18