WHAT IS MASADA?
Masada is the name for a fortress of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel. Masada is located on top of an isolated rock plateau, or horst, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea (the lowest and one of the most desolate regions on earth). Masada is a place of stark majestic beauty.
It is also the site of one of the most dramatic episodes in history; nineteen centuries ago a group of freedom fighters on Masada chose death over enslavement in the hands of the mighty Roman Empire. The freedom fighter’s leader, Eleazar ben Ya’ir, realizing that the end was near, asked his followers to remain true to the cause for which they had fought so long and so valiantly. “Let us rather die”, he cried, “than be enslaved by our enemy. Let us leave this world in freedom”. Nine hundred and sixty men, women and children died by their own hands.
The men embraced their wives and children and put them to the sword. Next, lots were cast, and ten men were chosen to take the lives of their comrades. Finally, the last surviving warrior set fire to the palace and fell upon his own blade. The defenders had left abundant supplies of food and water untouched, so that the Romans might know that they had preferred death to enslavement.