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South of the Galilee and central Israel lies the old kingdom of Judea. This area is the birthplace of Joseph of the house of David. When Joseph had to return to Bethlehem for a tax census, baby Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary.

To the west on the Mediterranean lies Jaffa, known as Joppa in the Bible. Joppa is mentioned many times in the Old Testament and in the Christian bible. For Christians, this place has a special connection to Saint Peter.

Just east of Bethlehem lies the Judean Wilderness. With its craggy cliffs, caves and lack of water, this was the ideal place of refuge and an inspirational place to retreat from the world. In fact, this is where David ran and hid when King Saul wanted to kill him.

In the Christian religion, the Judean Wilderness is significant because John the Baptist preached here. It is also the likely place where Jesus was tempted. And Herod the Great, always fearing that his people would revolt against him, built two fortresses in this desert, Herodian and Masada.

Over the centuries, the Judean Desert continued to inspire those in search of complete seclusion. The monk Sabas came here in the fourth century and established the Mar Sabas Monastery, a quiet retreat which exists to this day.

Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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