Visiting this largely man-made (by King Herod's workers and slaves!) mountain from just before the time of Christ is an impressive - and often unsettling - experience. Unsettling for two reasons: For one thing there is the strong symbolism of a fortress originally built exclusively for a megalomanic semi-Jewish king and friend of the occupying romans celebrating himself and hiding behind walls while a few miles away you can see Bethlehem where one was born in a stone trough who "became a lowly slave to serve and not to rule". The contrast could not be stronger. But the site is also unsettling today with vistas from the top to the settlements around it and also due to the fact that Jewish Israel now celebrates Herod almost as if he was a Davidic king while he was hated by almost all Jews 2000 years ago and the celebrated Zealots smashed his tomb and used the Herodion for rebellious headquarters. Almost ironic - and symbolic for the claims made in the area today.
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