Missed Masada Visit

Legendary site of the last stand in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome


The UNESCO World Heritage site of Masada has become a symbol of Jewish courage and sacrifice. Photo: Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia/CC-by-SA 4.0.

Masada made the news recently—but not for the usual reasons. The extraordinary archaeological site and iconic symbol of Jewish freedom has most recently received publicity because U.S. President Donald Trump wanted to land his helicopter on top of it, but was denied permission to do so. West of the Dead Sea, Masada is a flat-topped mountain in the Judean Desert. Trump had been hoping to visit and make a speech at the UNESCO World Heritage site during his recent trip to Israel. Upon learning that he could not land his helicopter on Masada’s summit, he chose to forgo the excursion entirely, which is unfortunate because Masada is well worth the visit.

King Herod the Great built a lavish palace on Masada’s summit in the first century B.C.E. The Hasmoneans had fortified the site during the second century B.C.E., but it was Herod the Great who transformed the desert fortress into an oasis, replete with Roman bathhouses and swimming pools.

Masada is perhaps best known for the role it played in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome. During this revolt, Jewish Zealots took refuge at Masada—an ideal location because of its remoteness and impregnable fortifications. Masada was the last Jewish stronghold during the war, and when it finally fell in 73 C.E., the First Jewish Revolt came to an end. The Jewish historian Josephus reports that instead of surrendering to the Romans, the Jewish Zealots committed mass suicide—one final defiant act. Scholars have questioned the accuracy of this account, but the legend lives on.

Herod’s desert fortress on the mountaintop of Masada was made famous as the site of the last stand between the besieged Jewish rebels and the relentlessly advancing Romans at the conclusion of the First Jewish Revolt. In the free ebook Masada: The Dead Sea’s Desert Fortress, discover what archaeology reveals about the Jewish defenders’ identity, fortifications and arms before their ultimate sacrifice.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

The Masada Siege: The Roman assault on Herod’s desert fortress

Jewish Captives in the Imperial City

Coins Celebrating the Great Revolt Against the Romans Unearthed near Jerusalem

Ancient Cupping in Israel

New Jerusalem Discovery May Evidence Starvation During Roman Siege


Posted in News, Biblical Archaeology Sites.

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  • Stamps says

    I would like to know the answer to the previous question because this is on my mind as well….this baffles me.

  • SFT says

    Just curious. Why does your article use the secular terminology–B.C.E. and C.E. rather than the abbreviations that center around Christ–B.C. and A.D.?

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