Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Visiting Masada

מצדה מהאוויר, תמונה שצולמה על ידי אסף.צ. התמונ...
As you are enjoying one of the many tours through Israel, you will most likely find yourself visiting Masada. It is one of the most interesting and mysterious stories of Jewish history. Masada is a site that is located at the top of a lonely rock near the Judean Desert; this rock rises 440 feet above the Dead Sea. The story of Masada was told by Josephus, a Jewish Roman historian of the first century.

Between the years 37 and 31 BC, Herod the Great used Masada as place of refuge in case of a revolt. The first Jewish-Roman War began in 66 AD and a group of radical Jews called the Sicarii overtook a Roman garrison at Masada. Once the second temple was destroyed, members of the Sicarii and their families went to Masada and settled there while taunting the Romans.

According to Josephus, the Scaraii people on Masada were a group people that were extreme Zealots. They not only disliked the Romans but they also didn't care for other Jewish groups as well. They thrived on rebellion against the Roman rule of Judea and were lead by Elazar ben Ya'ir. While we are uncertain about exactly what events took place, archeology proves that they built some structures on the rock that included a temple that faced towards Jerusalem. This is one of the oldest synagogues in Israel.

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