Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Cliffs

One week after posting on September 11 my computer hard drive crashed. I had some things backed up (most of my pictures from Israel), but really not much in the way of documents.

This includes my blog.

Thankfully, I only lost one post unpublished. So little by little, I’ve been copying and pasting all of my old posts to a new Word Document. Did I ever mention I had over 70 pages of posts compiled over my nearly two years of blogging? I was hoping to recover my old files, but that is still a working process. The plus of the situation is how much fun it has been to look at my old posts. This is actually a great opportunity for me, despite the bad that comes with losing files.

In the mean time, I’ve been thinking about Arbel often. Located west of the Sea of Galilee, this site was one of my favorite stops in retrospect. I had a picture snapped of me (which I did stage a bit) looking at the amazing view from the top of the cliffs. Every time I feel frustrated, I just think back to that picture, and it helps me get through it.

As with most places in Israel, Arbel does have a history. This story comes from the time of King Herod, and is simply fantastic. I quote the story by Josephus, with all its flair and possible additions. Enjoy!
“Herod reached Sepphoris in a snow storm. From there he then sent out a troop of cavalry and three companies of foot soldiers against some of his political opponents hiding in the caves near Arbel.

“Herod Had made up his mind to put an end to their resistance. After forty days, Herod came with his entire army. After a brief military setback, Herod rallied his troops and routed the people as far as the Jordan river. Thus, Herod secured Galilee for himself, except for those holding out in the cliffs of Arbel. Herod began to hasten his assault.

“Now their caves were altogether rugged, having the entrances half-way up the sheer cliffs, and being surrounded by sharp rocks. In such dens did they lurk with all their people. Thereupon, Herod, whose men were unable either to climb up from below or creep upon them from above because of the sheer steepness of the cliffs, had baskets built and lowered them with chains from the summit.

“The baskets were filled with armed men with grappling hooks, which were to be used to pull the resisters from the caves to their death. The baskets being lowered proved to be a risky tactic due to the immense depth that lay below them, although the soldiers in the baskets had everything they needed. But when the baskets were let down, none of the men near the mouth of the caves dared to come forward. Instead, they remained quiet out of fear.

“However, one of Herod’s soldiers, irritated at the delay being caused by those in the caves, girded on this sword, and holding on with both hands to the chain below the basket, lowered himself to the entrance of a cave. And when he came opposite an entrance, he first drove back with his javelin those that were at the entrance, then with his grappling hook he drew his opponents toward him and pushed them over the precipice.

“After this, he attached those within and slaughtered many of them. He then re-entered the basket and rested.

“Then fear seized the others as they heard the shrieking, and they despaired of their lives. As night fell, all actions ceased and Herod offered those in the caves an opportunity to surrender, and many chose to do so. The next morning the same method of attack resumed and the soldiers in the baskets fell upon them still more fiercely. Fighting at the cave entrances, the soldier threw flaming fire into the caves and so the caves, which had much wood in them, were set afire.

“Now there was an old man shut up in on e of the caves with his seven children and his wife. When they begged him to allow them to slip through the enemy, he stood at the entrance to the cave and killed each on of his sons as they came out. Afterwards, he killed his own wife. Then he hurled their dead bodies over the precipice and hurled himself upon them; submitting to death rather than to slavery.

“But before doing so, he bitterly reviled Herod for his meanness of spirit; although, as a witness of what was happening, Herod put forth his right hand and promised him full immunity.

“By such methods the caves in the Arbel cliffs were taken.”

View of Galilee from Arbel

I hope you enjoyed my post, Happy History as always, and now go back everything up on your computer. Trust me, it is no fun having to recover everything.

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