The Fall of Masada

Masada is an oblong mountain in Israel, near the Dead Sea. It has steep sides but an almost flat top and a panoramic view of the land around it.

In 70 C.E., Jerusalem was conquered by a Roman army, and the temple was destroyed. A group of about 1,000 Jewish resisters, called Zealots, fled Jerusalem and went to Masada. A fortress stood at the top of the mountain. Surrounded by ravines, the fortress was approached only by two narrow tracks. The Zealots took refuge in this inaccessible place.

The 15,000-man Roman army laid siege to Masada. Because of the mountain’s steep sides, they could not come close enough to the fortress to take it. Finally after a two-year siege, the Romans managed to build a ramp up one of the slopes of the mountain. When they entered the fortress, they found the Zealots dead. Rather than surrender to the Romans, the Zealots had killed themselves. Only seven women and children, who had hidden in a cistern, remained alive to surrender.

Today Masada is a symbol of freedom and independence for the Jews. Why do you think this is so?