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The Masada Fortress

Long ago, a strong stone fortress was constructed by a man known as Herod the Great. The fortress was called Masada, which when translated through the Hebrew language, means “strong fortress.” Masada was built on a mesa above the dead sea. It was originally built to serve as a castle complex and a safe place during the winter, but when Romans took it over, it was then treated as a place where Jewish people could stay.

According to, one man, by the name of Josephus Flavius, recorded the known facts about Masada before modern-day excavations began to take place. According to Flavius’ writings, when Herod died, a garrison was built at Masada. Later, Masada was taken over by a group of Jews who were called the Sicarii. A little later, a man named Eleazar Ben Yair commanded a group of Judean rebels and joined the people already stationed at Masada.

When the Romans were done attacking Jerusalem, they then built a siege wall and siege camps around Masada. It was 8,000 Romans V.S. 960 Judean Rebels, and some of the rebels were women and children! However, the siege showed no signs of success for several months, so the Romans began attempting to take down Masada’s wall. When it was certain the Romans would have success in this act, Ben Yair commanded that all but two woman and five children would kill themselves, instead of living as Roman slaves. The woman and children who did not kill themselves hid in the cisterns and shared their story later. When the Romans marched into Masada, they found lots of dead bodies. However, instead of celebrating their victory, they admired their enemy’s nobility.

Masada was abandoned until the fifth century A.D. when a group of monks who were recognized as the Laura inhabited Masada once more. About 200 years later, when the area Masada resided in was taken over by Islam, Masada was once again empty of people.

For about 300 years Masada was not home to anyone until it was discovered by scholars in

1828. It was then excavated by researchers. During the year 1966, Israel Nature and Parks Authority declared Masada a national park.

Note: Please do NOT get Masada confused with a malassada. Masada was NOT fried, NOT dipped in sugar, and is NOT to be eaten. (It would taste like dirt and rocks).

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