Gamla is often called the “Masada” of the north because of the siege and fall of the town to the Romans during the Jewish Revolts. The city was originally settled by a group of Jews returning from captivity around 150 BC.
The city is located near the Sea of Galilee’s northwest shore, on the southern side of a steep mountain. Homes were built on top of one another the roof of one house becoming the front yard of the house above. A sheer cliff marked the uninhabited northern side of the mountain.
One of the oldest synagogues ever found was located at Gamla. The synagogue community was probably active in Jesus’ day, and the Messiah may have stood there as he “went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues” (Matt. 4:23). An extensive industrial district has been partially uncovered at Gamla as well, including an oil press and a flour mill.
Gamla was a hotbed of political rebellion during Jesus? time. The city was the birthplace of the Zealot movement, a group of fiercely independent Jews who sought to overthrow Rome. When the Jewish Revolts began around AD 66, Rome sent her army to crush the Zealot movement. At Gamla, the arrival of the Roman army created mass panic. More than five thousand people lost their lives as they jumped or fell off Gamla?s northern cliff.
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