Masada

Masada


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Belegging van Masada

Die beleg van Masada was een van die laaste gebeure in die Eerste Joods-Romeinse Oorlog, wat van 73 tot 74 nC op en om 'n groot heuwel in die huidige Israel plaasgevind het.

Die beleg is bekend in die geskiedenis via 'n enkele bron, Flavius ​​Josephus, [3] 'n Joodse rebelleier wat deur die Romeine gevange geneem is, in wie se diens hy 'n historikus geword het. Volgens Josephus het die lang beleg deur die troepe van die Romeinse Ryk gelei tot die massamoord van die Sicarii -rebelle en inwonende Joodse families van die Masada -vesting, hoewel dit nie deur argeologiese ondersoek ondersteun word nie.

Die beleg het omstrede geraak, [4] met sommige Jode wat Masada beskou as 'n plek van eerbied, met die herdenking van voorouers wat heroïes teen onderdrukking geval het, en ander beskou dit as 'n bewys van ekstremisme en 'n weiering om 'n kompromie aan te gaan.


Masada - Geskiedenis

Masada

Opgegrawe oorblyfsels van Masada

Watter verskriklike tragedie het met die Jode in Masada gebeur? Dekades na Jesus se dood het selote 'n opstand teen Rome bewerkstellig. Die opstand is wreed uitgestamp en eindig met die vernietiging van Jerusalem in 70 nC. Oorlewendes het gevlug na Masada, 'n vesting wat Herodes naby die Dooie See gebou het. Vandag het die opgegrawe oorblyfsels van Masada 'n nasionale simbool geword vir alle Israeliete.

Hier het 900 yweraars aangehou tot die jaar 73. Toe kom die onvermydelike dag toe 15 000 Romeinse troepe sy mure breek. Aangesien dit laat in die dag was, het die Romeine die laaste aanval tot dagbreek vertraag. Daardie aand ontmoet die oorlewendes en stem vir selfmoord, eerder as om gevange geneem te word.

'n Steil, smal roete genaamd die Snake's Path kronkel tot bo. As u die afgesperde top bereik en uitkyk in die brandende helder sonlig, word u oorweldig deur die eensaamheid van die plek. Dit is 'n formidabele terrein wat aan alle kante afgesny is deur steil valleie. Hier 2000 jaar gelede het Herodes die Grote 'n kragtige vesting en 'n luukse paleis gebou as toevlug vir sy vyande. Die muur rondom die bergtop het 37 verdedigingstorings gehad. Na Herodes se dood is Masada 70 jaar lank deur 'n Romeinse garnisoen beset. Toe in 66 nC kom die Groot Opstand van die Joodse Selote. 'N Party van hulle het Masada verower en na hierdie afgeleë plek het menigte vlugtelinge, mans, vroue en kinders byeengekom. & Quot - Masada YIGAEL YADIN

Die Onvoorstelbare

Dekades na Jesus se dood het selote 'n opstand teen Rome bewerkstellig. Die opstand is wreed uitgestamp en eindig met die vernietiging van Jerusalem in 70 nC. Oorlewendes het gevlug na Masada, 'n vesting wat Herodes naby die Dooie See gebou het. Vandag het die opgegrawe oorblyfsels van Masada 'n nasionale simbool geword vir alle Israeliete.

Hier hou 900 yweraars stand tot die jaar 73. Toe kom die onvermydelike dag toe 15 000 Romeinse troepe sy mure breek. Aangesien dit laat in die dag was, het die Romeine die laaste aanval tot dagbreek vertraag. Daardie aand ontmoet die oorlewendes en stem vir selfmoord, eerder as om gevange geneem te word.

Opsomming van die gruwelike voorval

Die oorlewendes het lootjies getrek en 10 man gekies om die res dood te maak. Elke man het saam met sy vrou en kinders op die grond gaan lê en hulle omhels. Saam wag hulle op die slag van die manne wat gekies is om dit te lewer. Toe die tien beulte hul taak onwrikbaar voltooi het, trek hulle weer lotte om te sien wie die ander 9 sou doodmaak en dan sy eie lewe neem.

Teen dagbreek het die Romeine deur die mure gebars. Vure het stilweg oral gebrand. 'N Spookagtige stilte hang oor die lug. Uiteindelik het 2 ou vroue en 3 klein kinders uit die skuilplek gekom om die verhaal te vertel. Die hedendaagse Joodse historikus Josephus sluit sy verslag oor Masada af met hierdie treffende woorde:

& quot Toe die Romeine die massa versneuwelde sien, kon hulle geen vreugde in die gesig geniet nie, al was die mense hulle vyande. & quot -Jewish Wars FLAVIUS JOSEPHUS


Die verslag van Josefus

Die oorloë van die Jode, Boek 7

1. (389) Terwyl Eleazar besig was met sy vermanings, het hulle hom almal afgesny en haastig om die werk te doen, vol van 'n onoorwinlike gees van gees, en het met 'n demoniese woede beweeg. So het hulle gegaan, soos die een nog probeer om voor die ander te wees, en omdat hulle gedink het dat hierdie gretigheid 'n bewys van hul moed en goeie gedrag sou wees, as hulle kon vermy om in die laaste klas te verskyn, so groot was die ywer waarin hulle was vermoor hulle vrouens en kinders, en hulself ook! (390) En ook toe hulle by die werk kom, het hulle moed nie in die steek gelaat nie, soos 'n mens sou dink dit sou gedoen het, maar hulle het toe dieselfde besluit vasgehou, sonder om te twyfel, toe hulle gehoor het toe Eleazar spraak, terwyl elkeen van hulle nog steeds die natuurlike passie van liefde vir hulself en hul gesinne behou het, want die redenasie wat hulle aangevoer het, was vir hulle baie regverdig, selfs ten opsigte van diegene wat hulle die duurste was (391) vir die mans omhels hulle vrouens saggies en neem hul kinders in hul arms en gee hulle die langste afskeids soen met trane in hul oë.

(392) Tog het hulle terselfdertyd voltooi wat hulle voorgeneem het, asof hulle deur die hande van vreemdelinge tereggestel is, en hulle het niks anders as hul troos nie, behalwe die noodsaaklikheid om hierdie teregstelling te doen om dit te vermy die vooruitsig wat hulle gehad het op die ellendes wat hulle onder hulle vyande sou ly. (393) Daar was ook nie lankal een van hierdie mans wat opgemerk het om hul deel te neem aan hierdie verskriklike teregstelling nie, maar elkeen van hulle het sy liefste verhoudings gestuur. Dit was inderdaad ellendige mans, wie se nood hulle gedwing het om hul eie vroue en kinders met hul eie hande dood te maak, as die ligste van die euwels wat voor hulle was. (394) Omdat hulle nie langer die verdriet kon verduur oor wat hulle langer gedoen het nie, en hulle beskou dit as 'n leed vir diegene wat hulle gesneuwel het om selfs die kortste tyd na hulle te leef, het hulle tans alles gelê in 'n hoop gehad en dit aan die brand gesteek. (395)

Hulle het toe tien mans uit lot uit hulle gekies om die res dood te maak, elkeen wat sy vrou en kinders op die grond neergelê het, en sy arms om hulle gegooi, en hulle het hul nek gebring vir die slag van diegene wat deur lot daardie melankoliese amp uitgevoer (396) en toe hierdie tien hulle almal sonder vrees doodgemaak het, het hulle dieselfde reël gemaak vir die werwing van lot, dat hy wie se lot dit was, eers die ander nege moes doodmaak, en immers, homself moet doodmaak. Gevolglik het al hierdie mense die moed gehad om nie agter mekaar te wees om te doen of te ly nie (397), en ten slotte het die nege hul nek aan die beul aangebied, en hy wat die laaste van almal was, het al die ander liggame, sodat die een of ander onder soveel gesneuweldes nie sou wou hê dat sy hulp redelik gestuur moes word nie en toe hy sien dat hulle almal gesneuwel het, het hy die paleis aan die brand gesteek, en met sy groot krag het sy swaard gehardloop heeltemal deur homself en het doodgeval naby sy eie verhoudings. (398) Hierdie mense het dus gesterf met die bedoeling dat hulle nie een siel onder hulle almal sou oorlaat om aan die Romeine onderworpe te wees nie.

(399) Tog was daar 'n ou vrou en 'n ander wat aan Eleazar verwant was, en beter as die meeste vroue in omsigtigheid en geleerdheid, met vyf kinders, wat hulself in grotte onder die grond verberg het en water daarheen gedra het om te drink , en was daar weggesteek toe die res bedoel was om mekaar te slag. (400) Die ander was nege honderd en sestig in getal, die vroue en kinders is ingesluit by die berekening. (401) Hierdie rampspoedige slagting is op die vyftiende dag van die maand Xanthicus [Nisan] gedoen.

2. (402) Nou vir die Romeine, hulle het verwag dat hulle in die oggend geveg sou word, toe hulle hul wapenrusting aantrek en brûe van planke op hul lere van hul oewer af lê, om die vesting aan te val, wat hulle het, (403) maar sien niemand as 'n vyand nie, maar 'n verskriklike eensaamheid aan alle kante, met 'n vuur in die plek sowel as 'n volmaakte stilte. Uiteindelik skreeu hulle, asof dit 'n hou was wat deur die rammerslag gegee is, om te probeer of hulle iemand kon uitbring wat binne die (404) vroue was wat hierdie geluid gehoor het en uit hul ondergrondse grot kom, en het die Romeine ingelig wat gebeur het, soos dit gedoen is, en die tweede van hulle beskryf duidelik alles wat gesê is en wat gedoen is, en die manier daarvan: (405) tog het hulle nie maklik aandag aan sulke 'n desperate onderneming, en het nie geglo dat dit kan wees nie, aangesien hulle gesê het dat hulle ook probeer het om die vuur te blus, en vinnig 'n pad daardeur deurgebring het, het hulle binne -in die paleis gekom (406) en so ontmoet hulle die menigte van die wat verslaan is. , maar kon geen behae daarin vind nie, alhoewel dit aan hulle vyande gedoen is. Hulle kon ook nie anders nie as om te wonder oor die moed van hul besluit en die onroerende minagting van die dood, wat so 'n groot aantal van hulle getoon het, toe hulle met so 'n aksie as dit deurgegaan het.

Van Die werke van Josephus,
vertaal deur William Whiston
Hendrickson Uitgewers, 1987

Die Woorde van Jesus

Jesus het 'n paar interessante opmerkings aan sy dissipels gemaak oor die verwoesting wat Jerusalem en haar glorieryke tempel sou tref.

Matt 24: 1-2 & quotToe gaan Jesus uit en vertrek uit die tempel, en sy dissipels kom op om Hom die geboue van die tempel te wys. 2 En Jesus sê vir hulle: & quot; Sien julle nie al hierdie dinge nie? Voorwaar Ek sê vir julle, hier sal nie een klip op die ander gelaat word wat nie neergegooi sal word nie. & Quot

Die tragedie in Masada en die verwoesting van Jerusalem was die onvermydelike uitkoms wat die Joodse leiers en hul volgelinge sou trotseer vir die tragedie van alle tragedies toe hulle Pilatus se hand dwing om die kruisiging van hul Messias te beveel.

Lukas 13: 34-35 & quotO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, die een wat die profete doodmaak en die wat na haar gestuur is, stenig! Hoe gereeld wou ek u kinders bymekaarbring, soos 'n hen haar kroos onder haar vlerke bymekaarmaak, maar u wou nie! Kyk! Jou huis word woes gelaat en verseker, Ek sê vir jou, jy sal My nie sien totdat die tyd kom dat jy sê: 'Salig is Hy wat kom in die Naam van die HERE!' & quot

Dit was alles deur God voorsien, wat vooraf bepaal het dat die tragedie van die dood van sy eie Seun sou lei tot die heerlike triomf in sy opstanding en die redding van die mensdom. As gevolg hiervan is die Kerk (uitgenoemdes) gebore op Pinksterfees, 50 dae na Jesus se dood (Pasga). Die Kerk wat uit Jode sowel as heidene bestaan, sou tydelik as God se uitverkore volk die plek inneem totdat die dag aanbreek dat die Joodse leiers (volk) sou uitroep na hulle Verlosser wat hulle deurboor en huil oor Hom en wat hulle gedoen het.

Die eertydse Joodse profeet Sagaria het in die laaste dae 'n wonderlike voorspelling gegee van die redding van die volk Israel:

Sag 12: 10-11 En Ek sal die Gees van genade en smeking op die huis van Dawid en op die inwoners van Jerusalem uitstort, dan sal hulle My aanskou vir wie hulle deurboor het; en treur oor Hom soos 'n mens bedroef oor 'n eersgeborene. In daardie dag sal daar 'n groot rou in Jerusalem wees ... & quot

Masada in Wikipedia

Masada (Hebreeus מ צ ד ה, uitgespreek Metzada, van מ צ ו ד ה, metzuda, & quotfortress & quot) is die naam van 'n plek met antieke paleise en vestings in die Suid -distrik van Israel bo -op 'n geïsoleerde rotsplato, of groot mes, aan die oostelike rand van die Judese woestyn wat uitkyk op die Dooie See. Na die Eerste Joods-Romeinse Oorlog (ook bekend as die Groot Joodse Opstand) het 'n beleg van die vesting deur troepe van die Romeinse Ryk gelei tot die massamoordmoord van Joodse rebelle, wat die dood bo oorgawe verkies het. Volledige artikel

Die Bybel noem die vernietiging van die tempel en die stad Jerusalem

Matt 24: 1-2 & quotToe gaan Jesus uit en vertrek uit die tempel, en sy dissipels kom op om Hom die geboue van die tempel te wys. En Jesus sê vir hulle: & quot; Sien julle nie al hierdie dinge nie? Voorwaar, ek sê vir jou, nie een klip sal hier op die ander gelaat word nie, wat nie neergegooi sal word nie. & quot

Die tragedie in Masada en die verwoesting van Jerusalem was die onvermydelike uitkoms wat die Joodse leiers en hul volgelinge sou trotseer vir die tragedie van alle tragedies toe hulle Pilatus se hand dwing om die kruisiging van hul Messias te beveel.

Lukas 13: 34-35 & quotO Jerusalem, Jerusalem, die een wat die profete doodmaak en die wat na haar gestuur is, stenig! Hoe gereeld wou ek u kinders bymekaarbring, soos 'n hen haar kroos onder haar vlerke bymekaarmaak, maar u wou nie! Kyk! U huis word verlate aan u oorgelaat en verseker, Ek sê vir julle, julle sal My nie sien voordat die tyd kom dat julle sê: Salig is Hy wat kom in die Naam van die HERE! ' & quot

Dit was alles deur God voorsien, wat vooraf bepaal het dat die tragedie van die dood van sy eie Seun sou lei tot die heerlike triomf in sy opstanding en die redding van die mensdom. As gevolg hiervan is die Kerk (uitgenoemdes) gebore op Pinksterfees, 50 dae na Jesus se dood (Pasga). Die kerk wat uit Jode sowel as heidene bestaan, sou tydelik as God se uitverkore volk die plek inneem totdat die dag aanbreek dat die Joodse leiers (volk) sou uitroep na hulle Verlosser wat hulle deurboor*en huil oor Hom en wat hulle gedoen het.

* Die eertydse Joodse profeet Sagaria (520 vC) het 'n wonderlike uitbeelding van Israel gegee in die laaste dae; hulle treur oor die dood van hul eersgeborene (Messias) as hulle sien dat hy eintlik hulle God is wat deur sy eie mense deurboor is. Israel:

Sag 12: 10-11 En ek sal die Gees van genade en smeking op die huis van Dawid en op die inwoners van Jerusalem uitstort hulle sal na My kyk wat hulle deurboor het hulle sal oor Hom treur soos 'n mens treur oor sy enigste seun, en oor Hom treur soos 'n mens treur oor 'n eersgeborene. In daardie dag sal daar 'n groot rou in Jerusalem wees ... & quot


Bibliografie oor Ancient Baal Worship

Elia, Yahweh en Baäl deur Gunkel en Hanson, 106 bladsye, kroeg. 2014


7. Masada - 'n plek van heiligdom, selfmoord en inspirasie

Ook nie 'n dosyn nie. Soveel keer as mense daarheen gaan, wil hulle altyd teruggaan.

Foto: Die pragtige vesting van Masada. Met vergunning van BiblePlaces.com

Masada, wat 1300 voet bo die Dooie See uitsteek, lyk vandag net so intimiderend soos vir diegene wat duisende jare gelede by die basis gestaan ​​het. Hierdie natuurlike mesa doem hoog teenoor die Lisan in die suidelike helfte van die Dooie See.

Steil kranse aan alle kante laat die berg feitlik onneembaar lyk. En dit was.

Om bo te kom, het altyd 'n prys gehad. Vir moderne besoekers beloop die prys 'n kabelkarretjie. Maar in die oudheid was die prys 'n harde styging op die steil paadjie wat Josephus die 'slang' genoem het.

In 1867 het ontdekkingsreisigers hierdie pad wat langs die oostelike rand van Masada lê, herontdek. Vir die meeste mense neem dit byna 'n uur om op die 'slangpad' te klim - die slangroete wat heen en weer op die berg slang. Om af te gaan is 'n ander storie. Ek kan getuig dat 'n persoon met 'n goeie stel skoene binne 12 minute oor die slangpad kan hardloop (veral as u groep u gaan verlaat).

Foto: Moderne besoekers kom bo -op met 'n kabelkar. Dapper siele skaal die 'slangpad', regs gesien.

Masada beteken 'vesting'

Nadat Rome gemaak is Herodes die Grote koning, het hy in 37 na Christus na die mesa gekom om dit te versterk, en 'n muur van agtien voet om sy omtrek opgerig.

· Hy het daar 'n winterpaleis gemaak, en soos met al die vestings van Herodes, het hy alle gemak en gemak gehad wat hy kon hanteer.

· Die paleis klou soos 'n skuur aan die noordelike kranse van Masada vas.

· Bedekte trappe het toegang tot drie vlakke van terrasse gegee en gedeeltes van sy pragtige mosaïek is nog steeds sigbaar.

Die finale stand teen Rome

Na Rome het die tempel van Jerusalem verwoes in 70 nC het 'n aantal Joodse patriotte hul toevlug tot Masada geneem.

· Onder leiding van Eliezar Ben Yair het hulle etlike jare lank teen Rome gestaan.

· Volgens Josephus het die Romeine op 15 April 73 nC die top bereik om te ontdek dat byna 1000 patriotte gekies het om hul eie lewens te neem eerder as om hul lewens en gesinne aan die wreedheid van Rome oor te gee ( Oorloë 7:394-397 ).

· Die westekant van die mesa toon nog steeds die rug van die beleëringshelling van Rome - 'n erdehelling wat gebou is om die verdediging van die Joodse vesting te verbreek.

Sommige historici gee ernstige twyfel aan Josefus se fantastiese verslag, al bied dit ons enigste geskiedenis van die afsterwe van die patriotte. Sy verhaal verteenwoordig wat ons sou wou hê om te glo plaasgevind het, of dit nou gebeur het of nie.

Masada bly selfs vandag nog 'n simbool van Israel se vasberadenheid. Baie Israeliese soldate het bo -op die berg gestaan ​​en die eed afgelê: “Masada sal nie weer val nie.”

Foto: Oorblyfsels van die Romeinse beleëringshelling. Met vergunning van BiblePlaces.com

Argeologie en besoek Masada

Die gevierde argeoloog Yigal Yadin het Masada tussen Desember 1963 en April 1965 opgegrawe. ( Hy het 'n boek geskryf daaroor.)

· Twee ekspedisies het 'n aantal Herodiaanse geboue geïdentifiseer, sowel as kledingstukke, kinderspeletjies, skryfgereedskap en huishoudelike gereedskap uit die tyd van die Joodse opstand.

· Die patriotte het 'n rituele bad agtergelaat, of mikveh, 'n sinagoge, voedselopslag van koring in verseëlde potte en muntstukke uit die vyfde jaar van die Joodse opstand.

In 2007 opgeknap, Masada se besoekersentrum bevat 'n museum wat 'n aantal argeologiese ontdekkings vertoon.

· Saam met honderde artefakte vertoon die museum 'n dosyn potte met Joodse name. Sommige beskou dit as die manier waarop Masada se Jode die lot getrek het voor die massamoord.

· Die sentrum vertel die verhaal van die beleg, insluitend 'n muurskildery van hand-tot-hand-gevegte.

Die opknapping het vrugte afgewerp. Masada is steeds die top -toeristebestemming in Israel, en verdien jaarliks ​​$ 10 miljoen.

Foto met vergunning van die Pictorial Library of Bible Lands (BiblePlaces.com)

Toewydingsgedagte vir Masada

Tensy ons Josefus se verslag letterlik opneem, veral die gedeelte waar Eliezer beweer dat God se oordeel die oorsaak is van die Joodse nederlaag onder Rome (Oorloë 7: 327, 359), is daar nie baie Bybelse betekenis vir Masada nie. Maar die een duim geverfde swart lyn oor die mure van die ruïnes illustreer 'n waarheid wat ons kan toepas. Die lyn onthul die skeiding tussen die oorspronklike ruïnes onder die lyn en die rekonstruksie daarbo. In die meeste gevalle is dit moeilik om 'n onderskeid te tref tussen die oorspronklike en die rekonstruksie. Ons het geen sigbare lyn wat in ons lewens afloop om die skeiding tussen hulle te openbaar nie die outentieke en die valse . Ons dink ons ​​kan die lyn in ander se lewens sien, maar dit is selfs moeilik om dit in onsself te onderskei. Hoe belangrik om gee dieselfde genade aan ander wat ons onsself gee.

Gedurende sy vlugtige jare op die vlug van koning Saul, het David heiligdom gesoek vir sy ouers oorkant die Dooie See in Moab. Met sy terugkeer na Israel het Dawid sy toevlug tot “die vesting” geneem. Sommige geleerdes identifiseer dit met Masada, die Hebreeuse term wat 'vesting' in beteken 1 Samuel 22: 4 . As dit die geval is, word Dawid se gebed vir bevryding en vertroue in God meer spesiaal - lees bo -aan die mes:

“By U, HERE, het ek my toevlug geneem, laat my nooit skaam wees nie, in u geregtigheid red my. Neig u oor tot my, red my vinnig Wees vir my 'n rots van sterkte, 'n vesting [metzuda] om my te red. Want U is my rots en my vesting Ter wille van u naam sal U my lei en my lei. ” - Psalm 31: 1-3

Masada! Deur net die woord te hoor, word die geluide van geveg, die moed van 'n paar, die passie van 'n nasie en die herinnering daaraan gedink dat geen plek op aarde uiteindelik veilig is, afgesien van die hand van God in ons lewens nie.


Die dramatiese geskiedenis van die woestynvesting Masada

Aan die oostelike rand van die Judaese woestyn staan ​​die ou vesting Masada. Met 'n skerp daling van meer as 400 meter na die westelike oewer van die Dooie See, sou die uitsig vanaf die top van die plato asemrowend gewees het. Die stilte van die ruïnes is egter een van die interessantste episodes in die Joodse geskiedenis.

Terwyl die eerste strukture op Masada blykbaar deur die koning van die Hasmoneër, Alexander Jannaeus, in die vroeë 1ste eeu vC gebou is, is die meeste strukture gedurende die laaste helfte van die eeu deur Herodes die Grote gebou. Nadat Masada in 42 vC verower is, het Masada 'n veilige toevlugsoord geword vir Herodes en sy gesin tydens hul lang stryd om mag in Israel. Behalwe dat dit 'n vesting was, was Masada ook 'n plesierpaleis vir Herodes. Dit is byvoorbeeld ontwerp in die rigting van 'n Romeinse villa, en verskeie amfora in die stoorkamers van Masada het Latynse inskripsies, wat daarop dui dat dit wyn bevat wat heeltemal uit Italië ingevoer is. Na die dood van Herodes in 4 vC het Masada 'n militêre voorpos geword en 'n Romeinse garnisoen gehuisves, vermoedelik van hulpmagte.

'N Kunstenaarsrekonstruksie van die woestynvesting Masada. Beeldbron .

In 66 nC het die eerste Joodse opstand uitgebreek. Die omvattendste rekord van hierdie rekord kan gevind word in Flavius ​​Josephus se Die Joodse Oorlog . Volgens Josephus, 'n groep Joodse yweraars, het die Sicarii daarin geslaag om Masada in die winter van 66 nC van die Romeine te gryp. Na die val van Jerusalem in 70 nC, was Masada gevul met vlugtelinge wat ontsnap het en vasbeslote was om die stryd teen die Romeine voort te sit. Daarom het Masada die volgende twee jaar 'n basis geword vir hul aanvalle. In die winter van 73/74 nC het die goewerneur van Judea, Flavius ​​Silva, besluit om Masada te verower en die verset eens en vir altyd te verpletter.

As gevolg van die woestynomstandighede, is die Romeinse beleidsinstallasies, dit wil sê die kampe, digte en skanse, ten volle bewaar en gee argeoloë die nodige bewyse om die ontwikkeling van die beleg te herbou. Toe die mure van Masada verbreek word, besef die Sicarii dat die vesting binnekort in die hande van die Romeine sou val, en besluit om iets heel ondenkliks te doen. Volgens Josephus, een van hulle leiers, het Eleazar so met die gedoemde verdedigers gepraat:

Laat ons vrouens sterf voordat hulle mishandel word, en ons kinders voordat hulle aan slawerny geproe het en nadat ons hulle gedood het, laat ons hierdie heerlike voordeel mekaar wedersyds skenk en ons in vryheid bewaar as 'n uitstekende begrafnismonument vir ons. Maar laat ons eers ons geld en die vesting met vuur vernietig, want ek is verseker daarvan dat dit 'n groot hartseer vir die Romeine sal wees, dat hulle nie ons liggaam kan gryp nie en ook van ons rykdom sal val en ons laat behalwe ons voorsiening, want dit sal 'n getuienis wees as ons dood is dat ons nie onderworpe was aan nood nie, maar dat ons, volgens ons oorspronklike besluit, die dood bo slawerny verkies het.
(Josephus, The Jewish War, VII, 8.6)

Die verdedigers is oortuig deur die toespraak van Eleazar, en 'n massamoord volg gou. (Sommige beweer dat dit glad nie selfmoord was nie, wat teen hul oortuigings sou gewees het, maar hulle het eerder 'n ooreenkoms aangegaan om mekaar dood te maak).

Alhoewel 'n mens die akkuraatheid van Josefus se verslag oor die beleg van Masada kan bevraagteken (en dit moet met reg wees), het hierdie verhaal groter gevolge as wat 'n mens kan verwag. Die besluit wat deur die verdedigers van Masada geneem is, kan vanuit 'n simboliese oogpunt beskou word. Aan die een kant kan die besluit om selfmoord te pleeg, gelees word as 'n stryd tot die bitter einde teen 'n onverbiddelike vyand, en die voorkeur van die dood bo slawerny. Daarom word die verdedigers van Masada as helde beskou. Aan die ander kant kan hierdie besluit beskou word as die vernietiging van onskuldige mense, veral vroue en kinders, deur die weiering om 'n kompromie aan te gaan. Die helde word dus nou as ekstremiste beskou. Hierdie verskillende sienings maak saak, veral as dit van 'n nasie hou, aangesien die verhaal van Masada die mense van Israel verdeel het oor hul siening van die land en sy huidige beleid. Alhoewel die verhaal van Masada vir die mense van Israel belangrik is in die sienings wat dit verteenwoordig, het ander nasies ook hul eie verhale wat die identiteit van sy mense definieer/verdeel. Ongeag die hoeveelheid waarheid in hierdie verhale, hulle sal steeds 'n plek in die harte hê van diegene wat daarin glo.

Voorgestelde foto: Masada . Foto bron: UNESCO.org

Ben-Yehuda, N., 1995. Die Masada -mite: gesamentlike geheue en miteskepping in Israel. Madison, Wisconsin: Universiteit van Wisconsin Press.

Eshel, H., 2009. Masada. Jerusalem: Carta.

Sage Software, 2014. Die oorloë van die Jode of die geskiedenis van die vernietiging van Jerusalem, Boek VII. [Aanlyn]
Beskikbaar by: http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/war-7.htm
[Besoek 12 April 2014].

Yadin, Y., 1966. Masada: Herodes's Frtress and the Zealots 'Last Stand. Londen: Weidenfeld en Nicolson.

Wu Mingren ('Dhwty') het 'n Baccalaureus Artium in Antieke Geskiedenis en Argeologie. Alhoewel sy primêre belangstelling in die antieke beskawings van die Nabye Ooste is, is hy ook geïnteresseerd in ander geografiese streke, sowel as in ander tydperke. Lees meer


Beste tyd om te besoek Masada?

Die beste tyd van die dag om Masada te besoek, hang af van die tyd van die jaar. Tydens die hoogse toeristeseisoene en die somer help 'n Masada -sonsopkoms -toer u om die skare en die hitte te verslaan.

Lente en somer

Tussen April en Mei is die klimaat aangenaam en sag. Die skare is ook dunner in die lente in vergelyking met die somer.

Die temperature in die streek kan gedurende die somer baie warm word, veral gedurende Julie en Augustus. Julie en Augustus is ook die hoogste toeristeseisoen in Israel, dus verwag langer rye by Masada en ander besienswaardighede.

Herfs en winter

Soos met die lente, bied herfs sagte weer, wat die wandeling na die top van die plato gemakliker maak. As u tussen Oktober en November besoek, behoort u minder mense te kry.


Verwante artikels

Kan ons nou spek eet? Levitikus is geskryf vir priesters, nie vir julle nie, sê geleerdes

Inheemse Amerikaners was eintlik al sedert die begin daar, sê argeoloë

Het ons die Tweede Gebod die hele tyd verkeerd vertolk?

'N Dienaar van die Amerikaanse volk, die nuwe Amerikaanse president, Donald Trump, besoek Israel volgende week op sy heel eerste buitelandse toer. Onder die gerugte op sy kort reis - later ontken - was Masada, ikoon van Joodse verset. Maar is die verhaal agter Masada en die selfmoord van die Jode daar in die hoek, eerder as om oor te gee aan die Romeinse hegemonie, fopnuus?

Elke skoolkind in Israel ken die verhaal van hoe Joodse helde in opstand gekom het teen die heidense Romeine, in die woestynvesting van Masada ingekruip het - en gekies het vir massamoord, selfmoord en hulself vermoor, weens gevangenskap en vernedering deur die magte van keiser Vespasianus.

Die verhaal van die beleg van Masada is deur die eeue heen gebring danksy Joseph ben Matityahu, ook bekend as Flavius ​​Josephus, eens 'n bevelvoerder in die Groot Joodse opstand wat in 67 G.J. begin het, wat die jas omgedraai het en 'n adviseur van Vespasian geword het. Hy het vertel van die verdedigers onder leiding van Elazar ben Yair en hul besluit om te sterf eerder as om geneem te word.

Josefus se verslag in “Die oorloë van die Jode” sê dat daar 967 mense by die vesting Masada was. Die historikus het 'n guerrilla -veldtog gevoer teen die Romeine, maar in 73 G.J., met die oorlog wat die Romeine maar net gewen het, het Flavius ​​Silva en sy legioene gekom om die oorwinning te voltooi.

Die woestyn wat aan die voete van die Masada -plato lê, waarop Herodes 'n magtige vesting gebou het. Moshe Gilad

Vry gebore, dood vry

Volgens die romantiese verhaal, om vry te sterf eerder as om as slawe te lewe, het die verdedigers elk hul eie gesinne vermoor en daarna lotte getrek om te bepaal wie hul landgenote sou doodmaak. Slegs twee vroue en vyf kinders moes weggekruip het.

Wyle generaal en argeoloog Yigael Yadin, wat die opgrawings in 1963 van die vesting wat deur koning Herodes gebou is, gelei het, het gevoel dat die argeologiese bewyse Josefus se verslag ondersteun. Ten spyte van die algemene aanvaarding van hierdie verslag onder die Israeli's as feite, is geleerdes nie almal dit eens nie.

Die waarheid is dat die opgrawings van Yadin min argeologiese materiaal opgelewer het om die verslag van die beleg van Josephus te bevestig of te ontken. Die bevindings bly oop vir interpretasie. En die feit is dat Josephhus se verslag die enigste van die gebeure op die winderige woestynplato by die Dooie See bly.

Die mure van die Masada -vesting, gebou deur koning Herodes, het eens fresko's gehad. Ilan Assayag

Wat was daar nie

Die graafmachines onder Yadin was teleurgesteld oor hoe min hulle Josephus se verslag kon bevestig, erken professor Nachman Ben-Yehuda, professor aan die Hebreeuse Universiteit in Jerusalem. Hy voel een daarvan dat Yadin sy gevolgtrekkings aangepas het om Josephus se weergawe te ondersteun in sy eie boek "The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel" (1995).

Onder die items wat Yadin by Masada gevind het, was boekrolle, erdewerk, klere, insluitend 'n sandaal, wapens met pylkoppe van onbepaalde oorsprong en slingerstene, en Joodse muntstukke wat dateer uit die jaar van die beleg, wat destyds bewys het van menslike besetting. . Wat hierdie items egter nie bewys nie, is wat in 73 G.J. in Masada gebeur het.

Haim Goldfus, professor aan die Ben Gurion -universiteit in die Negev, twyfel al lank oor die bestaan ​​van 'n beleg. Hy vermoed eintlik dat daar glad nie oorlog was nie. "Daar is glad nie bewyse dat bloed in die geveg gestort het nie," het Goldfus vroeër aan Haaretz gesê.

Elke toergids wat sy sout werd is, wys onmiddellik op die battery, ook bekend as die & quotRoman -oprit, & quot; wat die Romeinse soldate moes gebruik het om 'n slagram te posisioneer om deur die massiewe klipmure van die vesting te breek.

Onsin, sê sommige geleerdes. Dit kon nie die rol vervul het wat daaraan toegeskryf is om deur die muur te breek nie, want dit was te smal en klein en kon nie deur die Romeinse leër gebruik gewees het om 'n slagram te posisioneer nie. In die lig van die vondste in die gebied waar die [Romeine] deurgebreek het, het ons verstaan ​​dat daar niks gebeur het nie, ”sê Goldfus.

Die "Romeinse oprit" by Masada: Sommige geleerdes meen dat dit te smal en te klein was om gebruik te word om die fort se dik mure te breek. Dan Lundberg

Ander geleerdes argumenteer ten gunste van tradisie. Jonathon Roth van die San Jose State University in Kalifornië glo dat 'n beleg wel plaasgevind het, en dat hulle, as gevolg van die hoogte van die rotssporing wat die Romeine as basis vir hul konstruksie gebruik het, hul helling in so min as moontlik sou kon bou vier tot ses weke. Die beleg sou kort daarna verby gewees het, voel Roth.

Gekies deur ostraca?

Yadin se opgrawing het elf stukke ostraca opgelewer, elk met 'n naam ingeskryf. 'Ben Yair' was een van die name.

Dit het Yadin, en sommige daaropvolgende geleerdes, tot die gevolgtrekking gekom dat dit die lotte was wat die verdedigers gebruik het om te bepaal wie die ander sou doodmaak.

Josefus se verslag sê egter dat tien mans gekies is, nie elf nie. And the existence of the ostraca does not shine any light on their purpose. Were the ostraca used, as Yadin said, to decide who would wield the knives, or were they used to determine who would stand watch or go out on raids? Or in an ancient game of charades?

Though the first interpretation is tempting, unfortunately, no one can say for certain.

The missing dead

Despite Josephus’ account that 967 people called the fortress of Masada home in their final day, only 28 bodies were discovered by excavators, and only three were found in the palace, where Josephus said all were killed.

While wild animals, scavengers, and weather could explain why more intact bodies have not been found, thus far there have been no signs of any other bodies.

The missing bodies cast further doubt on Josephus’ account. It raises the possibility that Professor Jerome Murphy-O’Conner, from Ecole Biblique, was correct: there was no mass suicide at Masada.

Professor Yadin thought the remains had to be of Masada’s defenders and that the three found together were a family, perhaps the last defender who killed his men and his family and then finally killed himself. Yadin based his interpretation on the remains of armor found nearby, as Richard Monastersky wrote in 2002.

However, an anthropologist on the excavation team estimated that the man was between 20 and 22 years old, the woman was between 17 and 18, and the child was 11 or 12. While the man and woman could have been a married couple, the child could not have been theirs.

The other 25 bodies were found in a cave, which isn't mentioned in Josephus’ account, while the bodies he did mention just aren't there.

Shay Cohen, professor of Hebrew literature and philosophy at Harvard University, suspects these remains were indeed of Jews hiding from the Romans, but not well enough, and they were killed.

If so, that would contradict the account that the defenders of Masada were willingly killed by their own people to avoid capture by the Romans.

Joseph Zias of Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum suggests another possibility. He believes that the remains could be those of Roman soldiers. This would fit with Yadin’s admission that he had found the bones of pigs with the remains.

Dwelling with the swine would have been taboo for the Jewish rebels. However, Zias says, the Romans had no such constraints and also sacrificed pigs during burials.

The Legion Tenth Fretensis, who conducted the siege, even had a boar as one of their emblems, Zias says

Fourteen of the skeletons found in the cave were adult males. Six of them were between the ages of 35-50 and had builds that were of a “distinctly different physical type from the rest,” Prof. Ben Yehuda told Monastersky. That begs the thought that some of the bodies belonged to Romans soldiers, who may have been killed during a fight for the fortress, or may have been part of the occupation force left behind after the siege.

Unfortunately, the question of what happened to the remaining defenders is still unanswered. And if some of the few bodies belonged to Romans, killed in fighting for the fortress of Masada or otherwise, the story of a mass suicide becomes more questionable.


The Myth That Was Masada

Were the rebels who committed mass suicide at Masada really the heroes that modern Israel has made them out to be? Should this rock fortress of Herod continue to be revered as shrine to freedom? Israel is now reconsidering one of its founding myths as they strive to keep faith at the heart of the covenant.


The rock-fortress of Masada rises some 1,400 feet from the western shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth. Steep cliffs frame the four sides of this natural plateau.

Masada is best known as the place where 960 Jewish fighters took refuge after the fall of Jerusalem, only to commit mass suicide in A.D. 74. When they realized the Roman Tenth Legion would finally break through their defenses, they chose to die by their own hands as “free people” rather than be enslaved.

Jews today claim the sands of time have not worn away the message of Masada. The tragedy has inspired both a mini-series and a rock opera. And, next to Jerusalem, Masada has become Israel’s most visited site and its most profitable tourism venue.

For years the young Israeli state used Masada as the site to swear in their soldiers. After finishing basic training, they would climb the crest of Masada at dawn and take a solemn oath, “We shall remain free men Masada shall not fall again.”

For Holocaust survivors and Zionists the desert mountain is and forever will be, a sacred stronghold, a symbol of Jewish resistance against persecution.

Beneath the Stones
The enigma of Masada is that it was virtually ignored by Jews for nearly 1,800 years. After Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, recorded the tragedy for his Roman sponsors inDie Joodse oorloë, the Rabbis avoided it. It never appeared anywhere in the Jewish canon. To them it spoke of the failures of false messiahs. As religious minorities living on edge of larger cultures, Jews had little interest in apocalyptic prophets or revolutionary rabble-rousers.

But the winds began to blow the other way in the late 1800s. Propelled by end-time Christian beliefs coming out of Britain, Theodor Herzl founded the secular Zionist movement in 1897. His purpose was to create a sovereign Jewish state, preferably in their ancient homeland. Then in 1923, the Hebrew translation of “The Jewish Wars” by Josephus was published, turning the attention of European Jews back again to the ancient rock fortress.

In time Masada became a pilgrimage site to the Jewish underground operating under the British mandate. But it wasn’t until after 1948 and the establishment of the modern state of Israel that the stones of Masada were able to tell their own story.

From 1963 to 1965, a distinguished Israeli general and archaeologist, Professor Yigael Yadin, led an international expedition to plumb the secrets of Masada. Volunteers from dozens of countries paid their way to Israel to help professional archaeologists unearth the ruins.

Yadin’s explorations revealed the remains of the material glory of Herod the Great and the makeshift shelters of the Zealots. The work began with little more than stone ruins on the surface, the size of six-football fields. On the western side, the ancient Roman siege ramp was still visible, as well as ruins of various camps that General Flavius Silva had used in A.D. 73 to surround the Jewish last stand. Also visible were the ruins of a double defense wall Herod had once built around the mesa’s perimeter. Josephus claimed 70 guardrooms and 30 watch towers were built into this casemate wall.

In the northwest corner the excavation team discovered the Jewish rebels had built a synagogue into the defense wall after they seized Masada in A.D. 66. In the back room, Yadin’s team found fragments of Ezekiel, including chapter 37, which contains the dramatic vision of dry bones and Israel’s promised resurrection.

Yadin’s dig generated national euphoria in Israel, as he used a combination of showmanship and natural authority as a general to fit his findings into Josephus’s account. He would later share his discoveries in a 1966 book, Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealot’s Last Stand.

According to Josephus, the Maccabees originally built Masada in 150 B.C.. But it was up to Herod the Great to recognize its strategic value. During his rise to power as a client king of Rome from 40 to 37 B.C., Herod kept his family at Masada while he laid siege to Jerusalem. When he returned to Masada, to his surprise he found his mother, fiancée, brother and 800 soldiers had been able to hold the entire time, despite being attacked by larger forces.

He immediately set about fortifying and furnishing the citadel as a royal refuge fearing “a peril from Jewish people” would arise again or even a “more serious [attack] from Cleopatra of Egypt.” Over a period of six years Herod transformed Masada’s mesa into a Dead Sea royal resort with an amazing array of palaces, Roman baths, steam rooms, storerooms, water cisterns and aqueducts.

Yadin confirmed that on the north side Herod had built a three-tiered hanging palace. At the hottest time of the day, this personal villa got more shade than any other part of Masada. From there Herod commanded a spectacular view of the Dead Sea, the Ein Gedi oasis and the Moab mountains.

Herod never had to use Masada again as a refuge. He reigned from 37 until his death in 4 B.C., but he must have visited often. When he did, it is unlikely that he ever dreamed, in the words of Josephus, “that he was to leave it to the Romans as their very last task in the war against the Jews.”

Following Yadin’s excavation, Israelis turned Masada into a national park. A cable car was built on the eastern side to take hundreds of people up to Masada each day. Today school children and foreign tourists mix as they walk through the restored ruins.

One can see the remains of Herod’s lavish steam room and elegant oval swimming pool, which drew its water from huge underground cisterns on the mountain. Also restored are two-plastered mikveh, or ritual baths, that the Jewish rebels built, to fulfill religious purity laws. Also visible are remains of the rebels’ personal belongings that were not burned–including garments, leather goods, baskets and house wares.

For most visitors, Masada is the place to hear tour guides retell of “the heroic life and struggle of the Jewish zealots.” While peering over the edge, they see how Flavius Silva ordered his troops to construct a huge ramp against the western slope, and imagine how the Romans launched heavy catapults and used an enormous battering ram to knock down the mountain’s protective wall. They hear how the Zealots hastily built a wooden wall to reinforce the double defense wall at the point of attack and how the wooden wall soon went up in flames.

A Twist of Fate
As the story goes, the Romans finally penetrated Masada in the Spring of A.D. 74 on the evening of the Jewish Passover, after a seven-week siege. The next morning they planned to ascend the mountain en mass and enslave the rebels. Unknown to them, the rebels had another plan.

According to Josephus, Eleazar Ben-Yair, the Jewish leader, gave a long speech that night in Herod’s Western Palace. He declared to his men that death by their own hands was more honorable than surrender or enslavement to the Romans. He proposed that a lottery be held, which would choose ten men to kill everyone. A second lottery would be held by the ten men to choose who would kill the remaining nine. The final man would die on his own sword.

On that following morning, as Josephus tells the story, the Romans “put on their armor, and laid bridges of planks upon their ladders from their banks, to make an assault upon the fortress.” Upon getting to the top they “saw nobody as an enemy, but a terrible solitude on every side, with a fire within the place as well as a perfect silence. So they were at a loss to guess at what had happened.”

Then “they made a shout…to try whether they could bring anyone out that was within the [two] women heard this noise, and came out of their underground cavern, and informed the Romans what had been done, as it was done.” The Romans “did not believe it could be as they said they also attempted to put the fire out, and quickly cutting themselves a way through it, they came within the palace, and so met with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution and the immovable contempt of death, which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.” (The War of the Jews, Book 7:402-406.)

Archaeology & Politics
While Yadin made history at Masada, he also rewrote history to help a young nation find its place in the sun. Today considerable doubt has been cast on the initial findings of the Masada excavation.

Many inconsistencies, as built up by Yadin, are causing intellectuals in Israeli to think twice whether Masada should be applied to Israeli society. As an April 1, 2001 Jerusalem Post feature states, “For the better part of two generations, the Masada myth was a symbol of fledgling Zionist enterprise it now threatens to slip back into obscurity.”

Back in the ‘60s, Yadin and his team found a collection of ostraca, or inscribed pottery fragments. Each had a single name on it, including one inscribed “Ben-Yair,” the family name of their leader, Eleazar. Yadin readily connected Josephus narrative of ten lots with these potsherds. But the lot consisted of eleven pieces, not ten as Josephus reported. Furthermore, over seven-hundred ostraca were found atop the mountain fortress, inscribed with single letters, women’s names, foodstuffs or priestly notations. It is more likely these fragments were merely part of the rebels’ rationing system for food. No single group of fragments can be taken as the lots cast on that fateful final night.

Another inconsistency revolves around the “remains of the last defenders.” Initially Yadin held out little hope of finding any of the skeletal remains of the final Jewish defenders, given that a Roman garrison was stationed on the Masada summit for some thirty years after its conquest. He reasoned the bodies would have been disposed of in one way or another for sanitary reasons. Yet during the excavations a south side cave below the cliff revealed the “stark sight of skulls and other parts of skeletons scattered in disorder about the floor.”

Yadin put the number of human remains at twenty-five and later claimed, “they can be only those of the defenders of Masada.” In 1969 the Israeli state arranged for a full military burial of these remains in Jerusalem.

Before his death in 1984, Yadin admitted he was pressured by the Israeli government to make that connection, even though the cave contained pig bones among the skeletons, a common sacrificial burial practice for Roman dead.

Masada is increasingly being understood as part of that “modern dance of politics and archaeology.” Archaeologists understand they are interpreters, rather than just restorers of a pristine past. As a 1993 Learning Channel show on Masada stated, “Every archaeologist is in a sense a myth-maker, contributing by his discoveries to the creation of a shared, national story of the past.”

While many still cling to the “Masada Myth,” other Israeli scholars regard Masada “as a cautionary tale of bloody-mixed extremism, which should be maintained on the margins of Jewish consciousness—if at all,” claimed the Jerusalem Post.

Israeli sociologist Nachman Ben-Yehuda believes that Yadin’s portrayal of the rebels at Masada as “freedom fighters” and “patriots” was a far stretch. In 1995, he released a book entitled, The Masada Myth: Collective Memory and Mythmaking in Israel.

Ben-Yehuda claims the pre-state Israeli pioneers falsified and fashioned Josephus’s Masada story into “a powerful myth of heroism.” Whether by underground organizations, youth movements, the military, archaeological teams, mass media or tourism, Ben-Yehuda shows how the Masada narrative of Flavius Josephus was edited and augmented to become an ideological symbol of defiance for the modern state of Israel.

The Hebrew University professor also claims the portrait of Jewish heroism at Masada was never provided by Flavius Josephus. “On the contrary,” Ben-Yehuda writes, “The narrative conveys the story of a doomed (and questionable) revolt, of a majestic failure and destruction of the Second Temple and of Jerusalem … of different factions of Jews fighting and killing each other, of collective suicide (an act not viewed favorably by the Jewish faith) by a group of terrorists and assassins whose “fighting spirit” may have been questionable.”

He further adds, “Josephus speaks of various Jewish groups who took part in the rebellion, among them the Zealots, but when it comes to Masada he mentions only one group—the Sicarii.”

Named after the Greek word for dagger—sica—the first-century Sicarii were religious fanatics notorious for assassinating moderate Jewish leaders and rabbis opposed to the revolt against Rome. In one instance, Josephus describes their killing 700 Jewish women and children in supply raids on Ein Gedi, a detail tellingly absent from the Masada visitor center.

Like Ben-Yehuda, Richard Horsley claims the true defenders of Masada were thugs and assassins. A classics professor at the University of Boston, Horsley is the author of Bandits, Prophets & Messiahs: Popular movements in the time of Jesus (1985, 1999).

He claims “the Sicarii were highly discriminate and always directed their attacks against fellow [collaborating] Jews, not against Roman soldiers or officials.” In their campaign of urban terrorism, Horsley says the Sicarii employed three methods, symbolic assassinations, plundering the property of the wealthy and kidnapping leaders for ransom.

Horsley claims a proper reading of Josephus reveals that the Sicarii captured Masada in A.D. 66 and returned to Jerusalem with the weapons found there to incite the Jewish revolt again Rome. After overplaying their hand, other insurgents in Jerusalem quickly turned against them.

Horsley writes, “After being driven from Jerusalem in the summer of 66, they passively withdrew from the rest of the great rebellion and retreated to Masada…” He concludes, “The Sicarii simply sat out the rest of the long war against the Romans in their secure perch atop Masada.”

Scholars of the first-century remind us that Masada was part of a much larger Jewish revolt against the Roman Empire between the years 66-74. As Ben-Yehuda writes, “That revolt ended in disaster and in bitter defeat for the Jews. Masada was only the final defeat in the much larger suppression of that revolt.”

Is Masada a symbol of life or death? Does it reinforce our struggle against tyranny or warn us of our tendency to self-destruct?

According to one Evangelical author, Tim King, answers to these questions “have been hard for both Judaism and Christianity to come by, but for different reasons.” “Judaism today,” King claims, “finds it necessary to think of itself as the ‘generation of the restoration,’ in contrast to the tragic ‘generation of destruction’ in the first-century.”

Since the rise of premillennial dispensation in the mid-1800s, King says Christianity has largely ignored what Jesus said about the impending self-destruction of his own generation, preferring instead to misapply that to our time.

King feels we should see Jesus’ entire ministry within the context of a century of Jewish resistance to Rome that ended with the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

He cites Jesus’ words in Luke 21:22, “for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” King says that in this very context, Jesus warned his followers to flee Jerusalem and not join the inevitable Jewish revolt, as it would lead to annihilation. And on biblical grounds King claims the destruction of Herod’s temple signified the vindication of Christ in covenantal terms.

A growing number of Israelis are also taking a more nuanced view of the Great Revolt and Masada. Rather than automatically grant heroic status to the “last defenders” of Masada, they prefer to ponder how the Jews of the Second Temple period found themselves in such a precarious situation.

Among them is Shulamit Aloni, a former education minister. In the Jerusalem Post piece, he claims there was an alternative to Masada for the Jewish nation at that time. Aloni points to Rabbi Yochanan Ben-Zakai, who fled Jerusalem during the Roman siege and founded a Rabbinic academy south of Jaffa. “Instead of creating a shrine to the cult of casualties,” Aloni claims, “he built a house of prayer and study.”

Some Israelis see the parallel of their situation to misguided messianic revolts of yesterday and want nothing to do with anything resembling a self-destructive “Masada complex.” They consider reckless military force directed against Arabs as suicidal, that carried out to an extreme would provoke a Mideast version of the Alamo.

Others are not ready to embrace the changes that “post-Zionist” intellectualism might bring. Rather than accept internal critique that Zionism was a misguided project shaped by colonialism, they prefer to rehabilitate Zionism for the new century. Ammon Rubinstein is one such person, and seeks to chart the course forward in his book, One Hundred Years of Zionism. In doing so, he finds himself defending Zionism, not just from “post-Zionists” but also from “anti-Zionists” or from the likes of Sicarii-like Zionists who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Rubinstein claims that Rabin’s murder by a fellow Jew reveals a deep divide between two mutually alien perceptions: “humanistic, peace-loving and compromise-seeking Zionism on the one hand, and national-religious Messianism, which rejects the very principles of classic Zionist teaching, on the other.” While religious nationalists might appeal to Zionism, Rubinstein rejects their zealotry. Others do also, particularly in reference to the issue of territorialism.

According to educator Erez Eshel, “The Masada warriors of today are without a doubt those people living in Judea and Samaria. They have the spirit of Masada in them, and this is why they have not abandoned their settlements despite all the violence.”

Eshel is referring to some 200,000 Jews since 1967 that have occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, and now stand as human obstacles to any just and lasting peace between Jews and Arabs.

Can anything be done to prevent another tragedy like Masada? Seasoned observers of the Middle East say that two challenges must be met head on before a just resolution can be reached: Arafat must curb terrorism on the part of Islamic suicide bombers and Israel must take immediate steps to dismantle the Jewish settlement movement.

“Is it wrong when worlds collide to want to live? Is it wrong?” asks a 1998 Masada rock opera. Of course the answer is “no.”

While Jews may need to rethink Masada as a national symbol, Christians no less need to understand what Masada means, apart from the contemporary End-Time scenario that claims a “King of the North” will soon invade Israel.

In this regard archaeology sheds some light. Yadin found that the Jewish rebels had an Ezekiel scroll, containing chapter 37—the vision of dry bones. This is where God once declared He would resurrect the nation of Israel and establish a new temple.

For many, the contrast could not be more vivid. Atop Masada you had Jewish defenders imagining a new world where powers like Herod and Rome are marginalized and priests rule in their place.” On the other hand, King claims the early Christians who fled the Great Revolt “saw Jesus’ resurrection as that new temple which became a restored house for Israel and all humanity by A.D. 70.”

Like the symbol of the rainbow after the flood, perhaps Masada still stands today, not to glorify a mass suicide, but to point to a fulfilled covenantal promise. If that is the case, as Christians understand it, then Masada can only point to that other Rock, upon which God restored a new world and brought a people back to life.

  • For more on the post-A.D. 70 quest by Judaism to keep to the heart of the covenant, order O, Jerusalem!—the contested future of the Jewish Covenant by Dr. Marc Ellis, ISBN 1-877-757-2703


Eleazar’s Speech at Masada
Brave and loyal followers! Long ago we resolved to serve neither the Romans nor anyone other than God Himself, who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind. The time has now come that bids us prove our determination by our deeds. At such a time we must not disgrace ourselves. Hitherto we have never submitted to slavery, even when it brought no danger with it. We must not choose slavery now, and with it penalties that will mean the end of everything if we fall alive into the hands of the Romans. For we were first to revolt, and shall be the last to break off the struggle. And I think it is God who has given us this privilege that we can die nobly and as free men… In our case it is evident that daybreak will end our resistance, but we are free to choose an honorable death with our loved ones. This our enemies cannot prevent, however earnestly they may pray to take us alive nor can we defeat them in battle.

Let our wives die unabused, our children without knowledge of slavery. After that, let us do each other an ungrudging kindness, preserving our freedom as a glorious winding sheet. But first, let our possessions and the whole fortress go up in flames. It will be a bitter blow to the Romans, that I know, to find our persons beyond their reach and nothing left for them to loot. One thing only let us spare our store of food: it will bear witness when we are dead to the fact that we perished, not through want but because, as we resolved at the beginning, we chose death rather than slavery.

…After all, we were born to die, and those we brought into the world. This even the luckiest man must face. But courage, slavery and the sight of our wives led away to shame with our children—these are not evils to which man is subject by the laws of nature men undergo them through their own cowardice if they have a chance to forestall them by death and will not take it… Come! While our hands are free and can hold a sword, let them do a noble service! Let us die un-enslaved by our enemies, and leave this world as free men in company with our wives and children.


Masada in Jewish history and mythology

Two or three years after the Jewish revolt officially ended in 70 C.E., about 8,000 Roman troops with their pack animals, servants and slaves laid siege to Masada. The desert mountain fortress, located on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert, was the last fortress held by Jewish Sicarii, commanded by Eleazar Ben-Yair. The Jewish defenders numbered about 967.

In a siege, the attacking army surrounds their target, blocking incoming provisions or supplies, in order to starve the enemy and make escape and reinforcement impossible.

When the Romans laid siege to Masada, they constructed a stone wall around the mountain base. The Roman wall, siege camps and siege works probably are the best preserved works in the Roman world because they were made of stone, instead of wood or sod.

The Roman siege works and weapons never were destroyed or built over, due to Masada’s remote desert location. And, the original defenders did not starve because Masada was provisioned with quantities of stored food and water.

The Roman military leader, Flavius Silva, attempted to move his troops and siege machinery up the mountain by constructing an assault ramp. Silva planned to use a battering ram to break through Masada’s fortification wall.

When the Romans appeared at the edge of success, Ben-Yair gathered his men and convinced them to take the lives of their wives, children and all the fighters, rather than surrender to slavery. That’s the story told by Josephus in his history, “Jewish Antiquities.”

Jodi Magness, distinguished professor in Early Judaism and co-director of the Roman siege work excavations at Masada, tells the story of the fortress, from the time of the Jewish revolt to the making of the modern myth in her book, “Masada” (Princeton).

Masada was one of Herod’s major building projects. Herod was appointed client king of Judea in 40 B.C.E. He funded and directed construction of the Temple Mount, the harbor and temples at Caesarea and winter palaces at Jericho.

During Herod’s rule, Greek customs (Hellenization), including language, religion, architecture, art, entertainment and education, were embraced by segments of the Jewish society, especially among the elites. Other segments of Jewish society opposed Hellenization.

Magness cites accounts from Josephus, Tacitus and the Christian Gospels to describe the siege of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple.

Magness writes, “As a result of the revolt, the connection between the Jews and their homeland was severed. Beginning in the Flavian period, Roman writers refer to the country as Idumaea or Palestina, instead of Judea … the references by Roman writers suggest that from their point of view, Judea ceased to exist after the elimination of the Temple and sacrificial cult of the Jewish G-d.”

It should be remembered that 60 years later, a second Jewish revolt, led by Bar Kokhba, broke out in response to the Roman attempt to build a pagan temple on the Temple Mount.

During the First Jewish Revolt against Rome, a band of Jewish rebels took Masada from a Roman garrison that occupied the site. By the time the Roman siege began, the dominant group at Masada was the Sicarii, a group originally affiliated with Menahem, son of Judas the Galilean, leader of one of the extremist factions in Jerusalem. The Masada group was led by Eleazar ben Yair, who was a follower and a relative of Menahem.

Israeli archeologist Yigael Yadin excavated Masada in 1963-’65. He found, among other things, the remains of seeds, nuts and fruits preserved for 2,000 years. Yadin also found several mikva’ot, which indicated that the Jews at Masada observed purity laws under extremely harsh conditions and even after the Temple’s destruction.

Magness studied with Yadin. She described the experience as “both terrifying and exhilarating, because Yadin was as formidable as he was charismatic.”

Yadin believed that Josephus’ account of the mass suicide at Masada was accurate. Magness, on the other hand, concludes “archeology cannot verify whether the mass suicide took place because the archeological remains can be interpreted differently.”

In 1948, Masada became a symbol of the new State of Israel. The fortress provided a physical connection to the Zionist homeland. Its story countered the image of millions of passive European Jews during the Shoah. Masada became a metaphor for the State of Israel: isolated, besieged and surrounded on all sides by enemies.

Today, Masada has lost some of its relevance as a national symbol for Israelis. For Diaspora Jews, Masada and its setting remain an emotionally powerful experience.

The first time I visited Masada, a taxi took me from my Jerusalem hotel at 4 a.m., and brought me to the site about a half-hour later. The mountainside was illuminated by a full moon. I encountered a pair of young Danish tourists who were about to ascend up the Snake Path. Not desirous of falling off Masada by myself, I asked the couple if I could join their ascent.

The three of us hiked up Masada in the cool of the predawn early morning. We reached the peak of the fortress in plenty of time to watch the sun rise over the Dead Sea. Standing on the mesa atop Masada, the question whether its defenders committed mass suicide or not seemed unimportant. It was easy to imagine standing in the same place two millennia ago.


Masada - History

MASADA mə sā’ də ( מְצָדָה , Μασάδα , Strabo Μοασάδα . Meaning prob. mountain fortress, Mesad).

The site has been identified by E. Smith and E. Robinson with a rock called by the local inhabitants es-Sebbe.

Masada is a natural fortress in the eastern Judean Desert on the western shore of the Dead Sea, located some fifty m. S of Khirbet Qumran. The upper plateau of the boat-shaped rock covers twenty acres and rises abruptly, almost perpendicularly 440 yards above its surroundings.

The natural advantages of this remote mountain were first recognized by Jonathan the high priest who fortified it (Jos. War, VII. viii. 3). Josephus meant prob. Alexander Jannaeus, a Hasmonaean ruler of Judea (103-76 b.c. ) as indicated now by the excavations.

The prominent role of Masada in the history of Judea coincides with the decline of the Hasmonaean dynasty. As from 42 b.c. Masada played an important role in the struggle between the house of Antipater, the father of Herod and the legitimate ruling dynasty. The same year Masada fell to Herod’s followers but remained besieged by the Hasmonaeans for some years, who were conscious of its importance (Jos. War I. vii. 7-9 Antiq. xiv, 6).

Herod kept his family at Masada during the years of his struggle for power in Judea. Only in 39-38 b.c. did he succeed in moving his family to the more secure Samaria (Jos. War I. XIII. 7-9 I. xv. 1, 3, 4 Antiq. XIV. xiii. 8, 9).

After having established his rule in Judea (37 b.c. ) Herod began a large scale building scheme of fortresses in Judea to secure his rule internally as well as against any external threat (Jos. War VII. xiii. 7, 8).

Masada prob. was rebuilt around 35 b.c. Herod built there, according to Josephus’ detailed account, casemate walls strengthened with towers, the Palace, cisterns and store rooms (Jos. War I. xv. 1, 3, 4).

Following Herod’s death (4 b.c. ) and the exile of his son Archaelaus ( a.d. 6), a small Rom. garrison seems to have been established at Masada.

At the beginning of the first war against the Romans, sixty years later, Masada was taken by a group of Zealots (Jos. War II. xvii. 2). Herod’s armories there were broken into and large quantities of weapons were taken to Jerusalem and distributed to the insurgents (Jos. War II. xvii. 8).

For the six following years the community on Masada seems to practice a normal way of life without being seriously involved in the war with the Romans.

This almost impregnable fortress, however, did not escape the fate that fell upon other parts of the country. Two years after the fall of Jerusalem ( a.d. 70) this last stronghold to survive the war with the Romans had to defend itself against a vast Rom. army. The Tenth legion (Fretensis) with numerous auxiliary forces led by the governor Flavius Silva had been moved to Masada. Eight camps and a circumvallation wall were put up around the fortress. Access to the fortifications of Masada for heavy siege machines was provided by an extensive rampart erected on the western side of the rock (Jos. War VII. viii. 5).

Masada was besieged and attacked for seven months during the autumn of a.d. 72 and the winter and spring of a.d. 73. It was then that the Romans succeeded in creating a breach in the wall. Several attempts by the defenders to check the breach failed and hopes to survive the Rom. attack consequently faded (Jos. War VII. viii. 5). Their leader Elazar Ben Yai’r persuaded his 960 followers—men, women and children—to take their own lives, and to die as free men rather than to be enslaved by the Romans. When the Romans entered the fortress the next day they encountered only seven survivors—two women and five children. All the others took their own lives after having burned their belongings (Jos. War VII. ix. 1, 2).

Masada remained deserted until modern times except for a short interval during the 5th and 6th cent., when a small community of monks settled there and erected a small church and some cells.

Many explorers and scholars have been attracted to this site ever since it was identified almost a cent. and a half ago. Their careful descriptions and observations are of great importance to any further study.

The large-scale excavations that began in 1963 were preceded by two rather small but very important projects. A study of the Rom. camps and siege works was carried out in 1932 by Schulten and Lammerer. A survey and a small-scale excavation were carried out by an expedition headed by Profs. Avi-Yonah, Avigad and Aharoni of the Heb. University during three weeks in 1955 and 1956.

Extensive excavations were undertaken for twelve months in 1963-1965. The work was led by Prof. Y. Yadin under the auspices of the Heb. University, the Israel Exploration Society and the Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel.

Herod’s palaces, store rooms, fortifications and elaborate water supply arrangements known already from Josephus’ writings, besides a well-appointed bath house, were brought to light. The architectural and ornamented elements from this period uncovered at Masada are of the greatest importance for the understanding of the transitional period in architecture and art lying between the Hel. and the Rom. tydperk.

The zealots and their families settled mainly in the casemate walls. The community’s daily life is well attested. Household installations and utensils as well as pieces of furniture and attire were unearthed. A synagogue and some ritual baths also were found. The extremely dry climate helped to preserve organic materials, above all parchment and papyrus. In addition to this, several hundreds ostraca inscribed in Heb. and Aram. as well as some Gr. and Lat. was gevind.

The scrolls identified so far include fragments of Genesis, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Ezekiel and Psalms, as well as apocryphal texts in Heb., namely Ecclesiasticus, a fragment of the Book of Jubilees and a sectarian text comprising vv. from “The Heavenly Sabbath Sacrifices” of a Qumran type.

The uniformity of these fragments found among the burned debris ( a.d. 73) with the scrolls found at Qumran point to the connections that must have existed between the Masada community and the Judean desert sect.

Conspicuous remains of the Rom. siege works are scattered around Masada and serve as a reminder of an outstanding ch. in the history of the Jewish people.

Bibliografie A. Schulten, “Masada, die Burg des Herodes und die römischen Lager,” ZDPV, 56 (1933), 1-185 M. Avi-Yonah, M. Avigad, Y. Aharoni et al., “The Archaeological Survey of Masada” 1955-1956, IEJ 7, 1 (1957), 1-60 Y. Yadin, “The Excavations of Masada 1963-64 Preliminary Report,” IEJ 15 (1965) Y. Yadin, “The Ben-Sira Scroll from Masada,” Jerusalem (1965) Y. Yadin, “Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand” (1966).


The Worst Kind of Blood Money: Lots of Blood, But No Money

While the Roman soldier’s pay slip provides an interesting insight into the life of a Roman soldier at the time of the Siege of Masada , it is harrowing to think that this man had waded amidst the corpses of hundreds of Jewish families, for nothing. Not a bean. The very opposite was the case with the oldest pay slip ever discovered in Mesopotamia , in the city of Uruk (in modern-day Iraq). A 5,000-year-old cuneiform tablet depicts a human head eating from a bowl and drinking from a conical vessel. The tablet is marked with scratches that record the quantity of beer assigned to each worker and this is why it is known as the oldest record of pay for work ever discovered.

According to a Smithsonian article, this poor payment was not unique to Roman soldiers. Paying workers with beer was also prevalent in ancient Egypt, circa 25th century BC, when “around a total of 4-5 liters of beer were assigned daily to the laborers working on the Great Pyramid.” By the time of the Hebrew Book of Ezra (550 to 450 BC), salt production was strictly controlled by the ruling elite. The servants of King Artaxerxes I of Persia said “we are salted with the salt of the palace,” with the term “salt” meaning to be in service to. This is the original association between the term salt and work. So the next time some smarty-pants tries to tell you the Latin word “ salarium” originally meant "salt money" i.e., the sum paid to soldiers in salt, tell them to get new chat. Because, according to Peter Gainsford’s 2017 book "Kiwi Hellenist: Salt and salary: were Roman soldiers paid in salt?" : there exists “no evidence for this.”

Top image: According to the pay slip found at Masada (inset), the Roman soldier Gaius Messius literally shed blood for nothing. Bron: Luis Louro / Adobe Stock / Inset Dr Jo Ball


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