During the Byzantine period, many Christian monks have settled themselves in the Judean Desert. Around 60 monasteries were built during this time in the North area of the Judean Desert and around 20,000 monks were living there in caves, isolated from the rest of civilization with the purpose of meditating and practicing spiritual work under religious vows.
This religious way of life is called Christian Monasticism, where the person denounces worldly pursuits and fully devotes one's self to spiritual life. The word "Monasticism" originates from the Greek word 'Monos' which means 'Alone', based on the act of 'Dwelling Alone'. The word 'Monks' derives from the same meaning of 'Living Alone'. The Monks lived in seclusion from the rest of the world in places called 'Monasteries', meaning: 'Places to live alone'. They withdrew from society and devoted themselves to the purpose of spiritual renewal and return to God.
Many such Monks found the Judean desert as the suitable place of seclusion. They followed the footsteps and life-style of Jesus, who, according to the New Testament, secluded to the desert for forty days in order to prove his obedience to God (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13), as well as Elijah the prophet and John the Baptist. The desert Monks are often called 'Hermits', based on the Latin and Greek words 'Eremita' and 'Eremites' (meaning: "Of the desert"). During the Byzantine period (4th-7th C. AD) the Hermits found the Judean Desert a place of choice for seclusion in the Holy Land. Although this desert is close to the Holy city of Jerusalem, it is also remote and hardly uninhabited.