Herod the Great built the mountain fortress of Masada in 31 BC above the western shore of the Dead Sea in Israel. He feared revolt and wanted a place to make a stand that was difficult to attack and easy to defend. The fortress, with large places to store food, vast cisterns to store water, and defensive structures, was accessed only by a narrow path up the 1,300-foot mountain.
What is Masada? What is the history of Masada?
King Herod, an Edomite appointed by Roman rulers to oversee Judea, built the fortress and made it nearly impregnable, but it was the Jewish Zealots who hid there 100 years later who made Masada famous.
In AD 70, the Romans attacked Judea and overran Jerusalem. Masada was the last holdout and center of resistance. General Flavius Silva couldn't directly attack the fortress, so in AD 72 he put thousands of slaves to work building a siege ramp. It took months to complete and when the troops broke into the fortress in AD 73, they found 953 people dead of a ceremonial mass suicide. Two women and five children hid in a cistern and survived to tell the story. They quoted Eleazar, their leader, saying, "Since we, long ago, my generous friends, resolved never to be servants to the Romans, not to any other than to God himself, who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice."
The place became infamous. Today, it remains a strong heritage of the Israelis. Men and women must serve in the Israeli Defense Force and when they finish their basic training, they hike the narrow path to Masada, are sworn in, and declare, "Masada shall not fall again."
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What is the biblical significance of Zion? What is Zion? What is Mount Zion?
What is the biblical importance of Mount Moriah?
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