Upon the death of Herod the Great, the fortress was passed to his son, Herod Antipas, who ruled from 4 BC until 39 AD. Protected on three sides by deep ravines, it afforded seclusion and safety in times of political unrest. This ruined fortress, site of John the Baptist's execution, stands on an isolated ridge 3500 feet above the Dead Sea. Within the fortified area are the ruins of the Herodian palace, including rooms, a large courtyard, and an elaborate bath, with fragments of the floor mosaic still remaining. In AD 36 Aretas attacked Antipas and completely destroyed his army. The Black Fortress, was built by Herod the Great in the gorge of Callirhoe, one of the wadies 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, as a frontier rampart against Arab marauders. Ruins of Herod’s palace on Machaerus (© Dan Gibson) Its high, rocky vantage point was difficult to access, and invasions from the east could be easily spotted from there. The Black Fortress, was built by Herod the Great in the gorge of Callirhoe, one of the wadies 9 miles east of the Dead Sea, as a frontier rampart against Arab marauders. #gallery-1 .gallery-caption { When the rebels agreed to abandon Machaerus, the Romans systematically dismantled the Herodian fortifications. Herod Antipas executes John the Baptist: Mark 6:14-29; Matthew 14:1-12; Luke 3:18-20, Jesus appears before Herod Antipas: Luke 23:8-11, #gallery-1 { margin-left: 0; The governor’s birthday banquet for the leaders of Galilee gave Herodias her opportunity to get rid of John. Fire signals linked Machaerus to Herod’s other fortresses and to Jerusalem. Mountain fortress in Peræa, on the boundary between Palestine and Arabia. In 1973, the German scholar, August Strobel, identified and studied the wall by which the Romans encircled the defenders within the fortress. your guide to visiting the holy places. Noteworthy for being the site of John the Baptist’s imprisonment and execution. But while visiting Rome in AD 26 he stayed with his half-brother Herod Philip I and fell in love with Philip’s wife Herodias. Herod Antipas imprisoned John, but Mark’s Gospel says he protected him, “knowing that he was a righteous and holy man”, and “liked to listen to him” (6:20). The fortress Machaerus was originally built by the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus (104 BC-78 BC) in about the year 90 BC, serving an important strategic position. Below the hilltop ruins on the eastern side is the village of Mukawir, where excavations have found evidence of three Byzantine churches built in the 6th century. Herod Antipas had married Phasaelis, daughter of King Aretas of Nabatea, the kingdom whose capital was Petra. (23:8-11). Machaerus (the name means “black fortress”) was one of a series of hilltop strongholds established by Herod the Great — the father of Antipas — along the edge of the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea. A mountain fortress east of the Dead Sea, in the region of Peraea. Roman forces took the fortress only by deception — they captured a young Jewish defender and threatened to crucify him if the rebels did not surrender. width: 33%; When Herod the Great died in 4 BC, Machaerus passed to his son Herod Antipas, who ruled Galilee and Perea (an area on the eastern side of the Jordan River) until AD 39. ), it became one of the royal treasure houses of the Hasmonean rulers. In the centre he built a palace that was “breathtaking in size and beauty”, according to Josephus. The hilltop, which stands about 1,100 meters above Dead Sea level, is surrounded on all sides by deep ravines which provide great natural strength. Excerpt from the Lexham Bible Dictionary, the most advanced Bible dictionary. In fact, all except Herodium (which wasn't meant chiefly as a fortress) were established by the Hasmoneans. Machaerus. margin-top: 10px; The most advanced Bible Dictionary . Salome, who was probably no older than 14 (so her dance might not have been the erotic performance usually imagined), sought her mother’s advice and then asked for John the Baptist’s head. . According to Josephus, some of the Jews saw this devastating defeat as divine retribution for killing John the Baptist. The rebels were allowed to leave and the fortress was torn down, leaving only the foundations intact. The hilltop fortress of Machaerus, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea and 53 kilometres southwest of Amman, is recorded as the place where John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded. The archaeological excavation of Machaerus was begun in 1968 by Jerry Vardaman, then of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and later director of the Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University. Machaerus (Μαχαιροῦς, from Ancient Greek: μάχαιρα, lit. Numerous cisterns were provided to collect rain water. /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */, All content © 2020, See the Holy Land | Site by, . Here Herod "made a supper" on his birthday. Herod, “deeply grieved”, gave the order. . The fortress Machaerus was originally built by the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus (104 BC-78 BC) in about the year 90 BC,[3] serving an important strategic position. 6, § 2). Machaerus Machaerus is a fortified hilltop palace located in Jordan 25 km southeast of the mouth of the Jordan river on the eastern side of the Dead Sea. When Pilate learnt that Jesus came from Galilee, he sent him to Herod Antipas, who was also in Jerusalem at the time. John’s disciples took away his body for burial. On top of the mountain, surrounding the crest, he built a fortress wall, 100 meters long and 60 meters wide with three corner towers, each sixty cubits (90 ft) high. Antipas’s rejection of Phasaelis added a personal note to existing disputes with King Aretas over the boundary of Perea and Nabatea. Lexham Bible Dictionary. 57 B.C. Farther down the eastern slope of the hill are other walls and towers, perhaps representing the "lower town," of which Josephus also wrote. John preached a baptism of repentance at the Jordan River and foretold the coming of Jesus the Messiah, who was his cousin. In form Machaerus resembles most of the Herodian fortresses: a cone clipped at the top. The site also provides the setting for four additional New Testament characters: Herod the Great; his son, Tetrarch Herod Antipas; his second wife, Princess Herodias, and her daughter, Princess Salome.[2]. Columns from Herod’s palace on Machaerus (© Dan Gibson). Excavations at the site have uncovered remains of Herod’s palace, including rooms designed around a central courtyard, an elaborate bath and floor mosaics. Antipas then mocked Jesus and sent him back to Pilate in an elegant robe. Machaerus was the easternmost of Herod’s renovated palatial fortresses. vii. There is no record of pilgrims going to the site when Constantine made Christianity a licit religion in the fourth century. He also criticised Herod Antipas, the governor of Galilee and Perea, for unlawfully marrying his half-brother’s wife, Herodias — thereby earning her enmity. The Fortress of Machaerus is located on the northeastern shore of the Dead Sea, at the mouth of the Jordan River. [10], Towns and fortresses destroyed during the, Learn how and when to remove this template message. The fortress Machaerus was originally built by the Hasmonean king, Alexander Jannaeus (104 BC-78 BC) in about the year 90 BC,[3] serving an important strategic position. Situated on a conical hill surrounded by deep valleys, Machaerus was built by the Hasmonaean king Alexander Jannaeus (r.104-78) note.] J." An embankment and ramp were created in order to facilitate Roman siege engines but the Jewish rebels capitulated before the Roman attack had begun. Herod’s stronghold of Machaerus (© Visitjordan). Machaerus: Where Salome Danced and John the Baptist Was Beheaded. Ruins of Herod’s palace on Machaerus (© Dan Gibson). It was during this time, at the beginning of the first century AD, that John the Baptist was imprisoned and beheaded at Machaerus.[6]. Herod the Great regarded the place as deserving the strongest fortification, particularly because of its proximity to Arabia. In AD 39 Herod Antipas was accused of conspiring against the Roman emperor Caligula, who exiled him to Gaul. John was executed and his head brought in “on a platter”. It was also in line of sight of other Hasmonean (and later Herodian) citadels, so other fortresses could be signaled if trouble appeared on the horizon. 18.5.2), of John the Baptist's beheading. Its high, rocky vantage point was difficult to access, and invasions from the east could be easily spotted from there. float: left; Salome with the Head of John the Baptist, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1531 (The Yorke Project). } A strong fortress of Perea, and the place, according to Josephus (Ant. John the Baptist was probably cast into the prison connected with this castle by Herod Antipas, whom he had reproved for his adulterous marriage with Herodias. Although Josephus described Machaerus in some detail, its location was forgotten even in ancient times. 16, § 3), where the Hasmoneans had their treasures. According to the historian Josephus, John’s execution took place at Machaerus. xiii. Herod Antipas, by James Tissot (Brooklyn Museum). While Vörös insightfully notes comparisons to the other fortresses, Machaerus stands out because of its location east of the River Jordan. 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