Is Masada mentioned in the Bible?

N.B. This is post number 1500 since our beginning in 2007.

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The Hebrew word masada is generally translated stronghold or fortress in the English Bible. Gordon Franz (lifeandland.org) says King David visited the site of Masada at least three times.

  1. After sending his parents to Moab (1 Samuel 22:1-5). Take a look at the previous post with the photos and map showing the lisan (tongue) of the Dead Sea. I envision this as the place where David could most easily cross to Moab and then return to the stronghold.
  2. After he spared Saul’s life at Engedi (En Gedi) (1 Samuel 24:22).
  3. When the Philistines were searching for him (2 Samuel 5:17).

This photo gives some idea of the fortress-like quality under consideration. Note the Dead Sea, the Lisan, and the mountains of Moab in the distance.

After a cable-car ride, or by walking the snake path for about an hour one reaches the entrance to the rock fortress of Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

After a cable-car ride, or by walking the snake path for about an hour one reaches the entrance to the rock fortress of Masada. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

At least four of David’s psalms mention masada.

  1. Psalm 18:2 (fortress). — “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (ESV)
  2. Psalm 31:2-3 — “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;”  (ESV)
  3. Psalm 71:1, 3 (fortress). — “In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!  2 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!  3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.” (ESV)
  4. Psalm 144:1-2 (fortress). — “Of David. Blessed be the LORD, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;  2 he is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”  (ESV)

We are uncertain about authorship of Psalm 91:1-2 (fortress). Beitzel, in The New Moody Atlas of the Bible, places David at Masada (p. 151; map 58).

Psalm 66:11 uses the word masada (translated net, trap or prison).

This photo was made from the top of Masada toward the Dead Sea. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

This photo was made from the top of Masada with a view toward the Dead Sea. The walk below leads to the site of Herod’s palace. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Understand that we are not referring to the Masada built by Herod the Great and later used by Jewish zealots during the period of A.D. 70-72. The stronghold had already been there for millennia.

The article by Gordon Franz is brief, but well documented. Read it here.

6 responses to “Is Masada mentioned in the Bible?

  1. Congratulations on post 1,500! You have shared a lot of great information through the years.

    I can attest that the snake trail is challenging. I was making very slow progress at the top of the trail.

  2. Wow – 1,500! Congratulations – what a treasure house of great information and photos. May you succeed in 1,500+ more!

  3. Isn’t the mountain the fort was built upon named Masada? I can definitely believe it was mentioned in the bible.

  4. Thanks so much, Ferrell, for those 1500 posts! What a tremendous ministry you’ve blessed so many with. Including me.

  5. Enjoy your blog! Thanks for all the posts!

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