Thursday, September 2, 2010
Masada: Desert Fortress
Overlooking the Dead Sea
Masada (Hebrew for fortress), is situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty.
On the east the rock falls in a sheer drop of about 450 meters to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth, some 400 m. below sea level) and in the west it stands about 100 meters above the surrounding terrain. The natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult.
The only written source about Masada is Josephus Flavius’ The Jewish War. Born Joseph ben Matityahu of a priestly family, he was a young leader at the outbreak of the Great Jewish Rebellion against Rome (66 CE) when he was appointed governor of Galilee. He managed to survive the suicide pact of the last defenders of Jodfat and surrendered to Vespasian (who shortly thereafter was proclaimed emperor) – events he described in detail. Calling himself Josephus Flavius, he became a Roman citizen and a successful historian. Moral judgment aside, his accounts have been proved largely accurate.
Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. “And so met (the Romans) 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 at 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.
...jews that believed in the bible would not suicide apparently, and so these were not really orthodox jews.
...masada is there and so was i and i have a photo of it...!
..we got out of israel one day or so before the egyptian war of the 1970's...! see: [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur_War ]