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MYSTERIOUS HORVAT MIDRAS IN THE JUDEAN LOW LANDS

Two thousand years ago Judean Low Lands ("Shefelat Yehuda") used to be densely populated. Prospering villages and townlets were everywhere. They were in a close vicinity to the ancient hills where once stood great Judean cities destroyed one after another by the invading Assyrian and Babylonian armies in 8-6 Centuries BC. Even devastating Jewish Uprising against the Romans in 66-70 years CE, and further Roman retaliations did not wipe out the bustling life in the area.

On a beautiful hill surrounded by the vineyards and forests stood a prospering Jewish village, one of many in the area. Its wealth was so great that the locals could even afford to build the most beautiful graveyard where local nobility were buried under a Pyramid – the only in Israel. Local people also built a big synagogue on the top of the hill, and their own stone houses were spacy and comfortable. Local wines were famous and were exported even to Rome. And wheat fields were everywhere. All that ensured a wealthy and happy life for the local Jewish agricultural communities.


But in year 132 CE another Jewish Uprising against the Romans started, called Bar Kokhba Revolt. In spread all over Judea, continued for 3.5 years and left behind over 600,000 dead. Shefelat Yehuda was completely depopulated and turned into the wasteland till the modern times. During the Revolt, the local Jewish rebels built directly under their village a huge system of the assault tunnels, huge living caves and underground escape passages. Invading Roman legions destroyed the village, slaughtered most of the population and left behind just scattered stones.

But the underground system, together with a beautiful Pyramid and the burial mausoleums survived. The area which is called today Horvat Midras is doubtless one of the most interesting sites in Israel, although the foreign visitors, who usually come to a maximum of two weeks, seldom have time to visit it. But for the Israelis it is one of the most popular sites. Children and grown-up alike happily scroll the narrow passages between the caves, enjoy the views of the Pyramid, the Ancient tombs, and the surrounding area. And the whole Shefelat Yehuda is also now back to life, with the wide-spread vineyards and wheat fields, carpets of spring flowers, beautiful forests, red-roofed villages and archeological sites. It is a great place to visit, indeed!