Masada: Herod’s Fortress and the Zealots’ Last Stand

One of the strangest phenomena in human history is the struggle of the Jewish people for their spiritual independence, always the few against the many. And one of the most amazing, heroic, alas tragic episodes in this struggle is no doubt the story of Masada.

In A.D. 73, three years after the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem by Titus, when arches of triumph were erected in Rome to commemorate the great victory of Rome over Judea, when coins with the inscription the “Judaea Capta” were in currency throughout the Roman Empire, on one spot—and one spot only—960 y´ewish zealots, patriots—men, women, and children—held that isolated rock fort near the Dead Sea in the Judean desert against the whole might of Rome headed by its crack Tenth Legion commanded by their famous General Silva. And when the inevitable and bitter end was near—they could not hold out anymore—they decided (and it is not for us to criticize them now) to take their lives with their own hands rather than to submit their spiritual and physical independence.

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