According to the Roman historian, Josephus Flavius, the Hasmonean king Jonathan was the first to use the sheer cliffs surrounding the eroded mountain to build a fortress and refuge at Masada, 450 meters above the Dead Sea. However King Herod is to be credited with the majestic remains we visit. These include two palaces, store rooms, a swimming pool, a bath house and synagogue. During the Jewish revolt against the Romans nine hundred and sixty Zealots, men, women and children lived for six years on Masada despite the Roman siege. Only when the Romans built their ramp were they able to breach the flimsy wall, on the eastern side of Masada, with their battering ram only to discover bodies strewn all over. When brought to Josephus Flavius, the two women who had hidden in the water cisterns told him of the final hours, of the mass murder and of the drawing of lots to choose who would be the one to commit suicide.

Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)

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