Israel Reflections 2017–The Truth(?) of Masada
From student J.J. Moore, here is a reflection on how the story that is told depends on the storyteller.
I have always loved ruins. Ruins tell a story and bring an appreciation of the past. However, a forgotten aspect of ruins is the stories that surround them. The combination of beauty and history converge at the ruins of Masada. The utter beauty of the sight, whether it was the preserved ruins or the breathtaking views atop the rock cliff, brought me to a place of deep peace.
Let me provide a brief (Roman) summary of the siege of Masada. Following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, roughly in 70 BCE, a small band of Jewish zealots maintained a stronghold atop the rock cliffs. The Romans surrounded Masada setting up camps, which are still preserved today, and built a siege ramp to break into the fortress. When the Jewish rebels realized that they would not be able to hold off any longer, they killed their families, and since Judaism prohibits suicide, drew lots to determine the final man to commit suicide. Additionally, the men destroyed everything except the food supplies to show the Romans that they could have withheld, but decided to choose death over slavery.
History is written by the victors, and Flavius Josephus was the only historian to detail the account of the siege of Masada. As with any story, there might be exaggerations or altering of the details. But, over time, more questions have been raised about this version.