is the famous royal citadel of herod and the last outpost of the jewish Zealots
during the war against
Rome (66-70/73). Masada is situated on the top of an isolated rock on the edge of the Judean desert and the
Dead Sea valley, approximately 15.5 miles (25 km), south of Ein gedi .
The only significant source of information about Masada is the writings of josephus (Ant. 14, 15,
Wars 1, 2, 4, 7) which relate that it was first fortified by the High Priest Jonathan and named Masada by him
(Wars 7; 285).
In 72 C.E. the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada - the last remaining Zealot stronghold -
at the head of the Tenth Legion, its auxiliary troops and thousands of Jewish prisoners of war. After a prolonged
siege, a breach was made in the wall of Masada, whereupon Eleazar persuaded his followers to kill themselves
rather than fall into the hands of the Romans. Josephus describes the dramatic last hours of Masada - Eleazar's
speech to the Jewish defenders, the mass suicide of 960 men, women and children and the burning of the buildings
and stores of food. He quotes the story told by two women, who, together with five children, survived by hiding in