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What Really Happened At Masada? Essay

991 words - 4 pages

Professor ClineAnthropology 188Masada Position PaperAt one of the lowest points on Earth, by the Dead Sea in Israel, a flat-topped mountain called Masada "became a metaphor for the new state of Israel-a place where, Jews making their last stand against the Romans, three years after Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D., finally chose mass suicide over surrender. "Never again will Masada fall" became the refrain (Ben-Yehuda et al, 1998)." According to historian Josephus Flavius in his writings in The Jewish War, over 900 zealots fled Jerusalem's destruction in 70 AD to a fortress built by Herod called Masada where they held out under Roman siege until 73 AD when Roman troops finally breached its walls. ...view middle of the document...

More likely, as the Romans broke through the wall, some rebels killed themselves and their families, others probably fought to death, and the troops, having no reason to take prisoners, massacred the rest as they had in Jerusalem.Despite his position as historian, Josephus Flavius's writings cannot be assumed true. First, in contrast to his claim, Josephus was not present at Masada. In his account, Josephus only mentions the Northern Palace at Masada, despite the existence of both a Northern and Western Palace, the latter of which played a large a role in the siege Josephus described. Most likely, he got his information from detailed diaries and reports of the Roman legion that fought there (Cline Lecture 4/11/06). More importantly, regardless of whether Josephus had been present at the siege or not, he still had no way of knowing the crucial details of the suicide or the speeches if they indeed happened. If the events did transpire, then all the participants would be dead, and even the survivors that are said to have reported everything to the Romans, would have known little. These few women and children were not present when Ben Yair made his speech, and within their cistern, would certainly not have been able to eavesdrop.Additionally, for the Zealots to have time for their speeches and mass suicide, they needed the night Josephus reported they had, but where the Roman soldiers actually pressed their advantage - - just as they always did. It is extremely unlikely that the Romans would have waited one whole night before they stormed the mountain. In all...

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