21 Days Until Israel! - Masada, A Fantastic Desert Palace of King Herod and Symbol of Jewish Resistance to Rome

21 Days Until Story of Redemption Films in Israel! - MASADA! - When the wise men from the East came to Jerusalem looking for the one who had been born "King of the Jews," Matthew's gospel says that King Herod and "all Israel" was disturbed. It makes sense that the paranoid Herod, who was an Idumena / Edmonite, and not a Jew, would be disturbed by this. But why all of Israel?

Well, Israel was a political tinderbox just waiting to explode, and Masada points to that political tinderbox. Masada was an incredible mountain out in the desert near the Dead Sea that King Herod the Great made into a fortress and palace. During one of the times that there was a rival ruler that rose up in Judea, Herod actually left his family here in the fortress at Masada and went and pleaded his case to Rome, where the Roman Senate declared him to be the "King of the Jews."

Herod died in 4 B.C.E., but Masada played in Judean politics for many years. When the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 C.E., as Jesus foretold, a group of Jewish Zealots held out in Masada. The Romans, never one to leave any enemies behind, spent two years building a path for their siege engines to break through the fortress.

But when the Romans finally broke in, there was uncanny silence. Everyone was dead. Rather than submit to Roman rule, the Jews at Masada killed themselves and one another. The story was passed down to the Jewish historian Josephus through two surviving women. The nearly one thousand men, women, and children at Masada set the fortress on fire and killed one another. Those that survived drew lots for ten men who would kill all who remained. The last survivor then would kill himself.

The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by ben Yair, burnt down the fortress and killed each other. The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.

Elazar ben Yair gave this final speech:

"Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice ...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom."

All of this just shows the fierce resistance that the Jews had against being ruled over, and the political situation into which Jesus was born.

So when the wise come along and ask where the "King of the Jews" has been born, Herod goes nuts and orders the deaths of all baby boys in Bethlehem age two and under.

Jesus was, of course, a king. But not an earthly king. A king who was a servant, and who would die for his people.

For more reading on Masada, check out: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Archaeology/Masada1.html

What strikes you in this Masada story? How does it relate to the happenings in Israel in the time of Jesus?

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