web analytics
March 6, 2015 / 15 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Travel »

Gamla – The Masada Of The North


Pollack-062813-Greenery

We are all well familiar with the dramatic last stand of the Jewish rebels on Masada against the Roman Legions after the destruction of the Second Bais HaMikdash.

But according to Josephus Flavious (Yosef ben Matityahu) a very similar drama took place on another isolated mountain in the very north of the country.

On the southern end of the Golan Heights stands an isolated hump backed mountain named Gamla. The name Gamla means camel and the mountain resembles an isolated camel’s hump surrounded by deep ravines on all sides. Gamla was a Jewish district town when the great revolt against Rome broke out in 66 CE.

One thousand four hundred years earlier, Moshe Rabbeinu conquered this land from Og the giant of Bashan. Two and a half tribes requested the lands to the east of the Jordan River for their inheritance and so a part of the tribe of Menashe settled on what is today the Golan Heights, or the Bashan.Pollack-062813-Hill

When Yehoshua divided up the Promised Land amongst the tribes, cities of refuge to be used by people guilty of manslaughter were established on either side of the Jordan. Gamla may have been one of these Biblical cities of refuge.

Fast forward to the time of the Great Revolt and we find Gamla as a strategic point in the struggle. Not only was it an isolated walled town that received rebels and refugees from the advancing Roman armies, it was the headquarters of the rebels. It was geographically on the Northeast frontier and close to two possible threats to Rome.

First, the Parthian empire was not far from this frontier and it would be a perfect opportunity for them to weaken Roman rule on the international frontier – and aid the rebels. Second, there was the possibility that the very large and influential Jewish communities to the east of the Roman boundaries would come to their brothers’ aid.

For these reasons it was deemed necessary to make an example of Gamla at the very outset of the rebellion.

In the beginning, Gamla held well against the Romans. However, in a bold move the Romans managed to tunnel under one of the watch towers and undermined it so that it crumbled. They then rushed into the gap. Meanwhile, the Jewish fighters began pulling their families up the slope on the roofs towards the hump of the mountain.

pollack-062813-CoinJosephus describes how the Romans pursued them, when suddenly the extreme weight of the soldiers bunching together as they charged up caused the roofs to buckle and the soldiers fell into the buildings and down the slope. Panic broke out and in the thick of the night, with clouds of dust hindering their sight, the stunned Romans hacked at each other as they beat a hasty retreat out the walls.

But this was just a tactical victory. The Romans filled in the ravine and brought the entire army to the walls, not repeating their earlier mistakes. What happened next was inevitable. The Romans slowly made their way up the slope forcing the defenders to the summit as they formed a protective ring around their families at the very top. Rather than fall into the hands of the sadistic Romans they took their families by their hands and leaped to the depths of the ravine. One can guess what the last words were on their lips as they faced certain death… Shema Yisrael.

Thus Gamla fell. Four years later the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and three years after that Masada fell.

For almost two thousand years Gamla lie in ruins, her stones sharing their story with no one.Pollack-062813-Overview

It was only after the miraculous Six Day War in 1967 that her sons returned. When Israel liberated the Golan from Syria, Israeli archaeologists were thrilled at the opportunity to explore and uncover. And uncover they did! Dozens of Jewish towns with synagogues and mikvaot. They even found Rabi Eliezer Hakapar’s study hall!

But the greatest find was the oldest synagogue in the world! And the story of the first brave stand against the Roman Empire was revealed by Professor Shmirayu Gutman, who I had the honor of speaking with as he uncovered the site in 1980. As he held up a coin found in Gamla which displays the word “redemption” and a vessel from the Temple, tears came to his eyes as he exclaimed, “Now I understand what all this sacrifice was for. It was not for Gamla alone but rather it was for the redemption.” The redemption of Jerusalem and the Jewish People. It was for this they gave their lives.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Gamla – The Masada Of The North”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
A snow storm with freezing rain struck the New York area, turning the roads and runways into skating rinks.
Delta Plane Crash, Snowstorm Paralyze LaGuardia Airport in NYC
Latest Sections Stories
Yarden Merlot

Bottles of wine accompany the Pesach storytelling – each glass of wine represents the four expressions used by G-d in describing the redemption of the Jewish people from Egypt.

Schonfeld-logo1

There is a point that many parenting books miss: children do more for us than we do for them.

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

The husband needs to make some changes!

Purim is a fantastic time for fantasies, so I hope you won’t mind my fantasizing about how easy life would be if kids would prefer healthy cuisine over sweets. Imagine waking up to the call of “Mommy, when will my oatmeal be ready?”… As you rush to ladle out the hot unsweetened cereal, you rub […]

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It was only in the reign of George III (1760-1820) that Jews became socially acceptable in Britain, and Nathan became music master to Princess Charlotte and musical librarian to King George IV.

More Articles from Sholom Pollack
Manya in her later years

Manya was befriended by many who would later comprise this first leaders of the newly born Jewish state.

Pollack-062813-Greenery

We are all well familiar with the dramatic last stand of the Jewish rebels on Masada against the Roman Legions after the destruction of the Second Bais HaMikdash. But according to Josephus Flavious (Yosef ben Matityahu) a very similar drama took place on another isolated mountain in the very north of the country.

I finally returned to Yericho, Jericho after ten years. The last time I was there, guiding tourists, was just before the Oslo War broke out in October 2000.

Always seeking to increase our knowledge of Israel’s tourist sites, from time to time, us tour guides take refresher tours.

On the twenty-fifth day of the month of Kislev, over twenty-one hundred years ago, the Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated after it was wrenched from the hands of the defiling Greeks. Thus ended a war no one planned or even dreamed could happen.

One of the off the beaten track areas in Eretz Yisrael that I enjoy taking adventurous visitors to are the southern Hevron Hills.

As we drive south from Yerushalayim, passing through the very cradle of Jewish history, with its rolling green hills along the Patriarchs and Matriarchs path or the “Road of Heroism” as it is some times called, we resist the magnetic pull to stop at Gush Etzion or Hevron and continue south, fully cognizant that more Jews walked on this path than on any other road in history.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/travel/gamla-the-masada-of-the-north/2013/06/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: