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Ricky Marek

[137] The Masada of the North - Gamla, Israel (32°54'9.03"N, 35°44'25.65"E)

This Landscape is from the Gamla ancient Jewish city ruins.

At the far upper right corner you can see the Sea of Galilee (The Kinneret Lake)

The ancient city of Gamla is located in the lower Golan, on a steep ridge that rises to a height of 330 meters above the surrounding terrain. It is sometimes called "the Masada of the north", though it is most remembered for the catastrophic defeat during the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans.

The city of Gamla is mentioned in Talmudic sources as a walled city dating back to the time of Joshua Bin-Nun. These passages apparently refer to a fortified settlement from the Early Bronze Age, whose remains were found here. Gamla was destroyed in ancient times and rebuilt during the Hellenistic period when Jews returning from exile in Babylon populated this area.

Alexander Yannai seized Gamla, probably from Hellenistic rulers who occupied it in its day. Later king Herod settled Jews in Gamla as part of his efforts to populate the frontier regions of his kingdom.

Josephus has documented the city of Gamla, its siege and fall. He describes Gamla as the city situated atop a hill resembling a camel, surrounded by high cliffs. On its steep slopes houses were built very close to one another, and the city seemed to be hung in the air at a sharp summit, ready to fall down on itself.

In 66 CE the residents of Gamla joined the Jewish Revolt against the Romans. Under the direction of Josephus, they expeditiously constructed a wall. In the eastern side of the city, the wall descended from a circular watchtower on top of the hill, and continued downwards until it approached Nahal Daliot. It encircled the city's eastern buildings, including Gamla's magnificent synagogue.

In 68 CE, when Josephus was already a Roman prisoner, King Agrippa II's army came to Gamla and besieged the city for seven months, with no success. The Romans, however, did not give up. Vespasian arrived at Gamla at the head of three Roman legions, and once again laid siege to the city. A month later, the Romans breached the wall and entered Gamla. However, the defenders succeeded in turning this battle into an overwhelming victory over the Romans, in which many of the attackers were killed.

A few days later Roman soldiers managed to creep unnoticed to the bottom of the watchtower. They rolled five stones from its base, and the whole construction fell down with terrible noise, causing panic among the defenders. In a few more days Romans succeeded to seize the city. They killed four thousand of its defenders, and five thousand people threw themselves into the precipices in despair.

The description above was taken from: http://mosaic.lk.net/g-gamla.html

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