Masada is a mountain about 30 miles south of Jerusalem where Herod the Great had his 'summ

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Masada is a mountain about 30 miles south of Jerusalem where Herod the Great had his "summer palace" (more of a fortress). When Jerusalem was sacked by the Romans and the X Legion was storming around the area about a thousand of the (Jewish) Zealots retreated to Masada where they managed to massacre the garrison there and seize the fortress. While at least a million were killed and many more were enslaved by the Romans after the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Masada still stood as the Zealot stronghold. It took a whole legion of 6000 Roman troops and the labour of 15 thousand Jewish slaves to overwhelm Masada. When the Romans finally managed to storm the fortress on April 15th 73 CE, they found the inhabitants had set fire to the place, and then killed each other rather than live under Roman domination. There were only two (or four... I can't find the reference right now) survivors, children hiding out from the slaughter. This story comes down to us from the Jewish historian (and Roman apologist) Josephus in "The Jewish Wars" if you want to look it up. Recent excavations of Masada have revealed much about the place. The ruins of Herod's palace are still visible, and caves around the settlement held many artifacts including at least fourteen parchment scrolls. In a particularly well-appointed cave dwelling the bones of a man, a woman and a child were found with a scroll outlining the life of the man, whose name was `Yeshua ben Ya'akob ben Genesareth' according to the scroll. He (supposedly) described himself as a "son of eighty years" and the last rightful inheritor of the Hasmonean (Maccabean) Kings of Israel. That scroll has since disappeared and is believed to be in the hands of the Vatican, but it's existence has never been independently confirmed. The definitive work on the archaeological aspects is: "Masada" by Yigael Yadin, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson in 1966. BTW, it is considered by some (indeed, many) scholars that Joseph was not Mary's husband and Jesus' father at all, but it was Alpheus (Cleophas). I can try to relate that story later if you like. Alpheus means `successor', an apt name for the one who followed Joseph who wanted a divorce from Mary for her indiscretion. It was fashionable to have both a Greek and Jewish name with similar meaning in those days, so if you look for a Jewish name with the same meaning you get... `Ya'akob' or Jacob, which happens to be the name of the father of Jesus of Genesareth. As you may know, there is no evidence a "city of Nazareth" existed at that time, but there WAS `The Plain of Genesareth', or `The Garden of the Prince' just south of Capernaum. If the "Fifteenth Scroll" ever surfaces again, it may answer quite a few questions puzzling biblical scholars for centuries! (ref: The Jesus Scroll by Donovan Joyce - 1973 - The Dial Press) Rev. John ... Dead Sea Scrolls research is scroll-duggery!

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank