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The Masada's Last Stand
January 8, 2000

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Looking up at the Masada from nearly the lowest spot on Earth!
Caption

Today my parents and I visited an important place in Israel. It is a hill called the Masada. There is a long path that winds up the hill like a snake. The hill looked very steep, and so we rode a cable car to the top. At the top there is a big fortress. It is over 2,000 years old.

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The winding path is steep enough to strike fear in the hearts of ancient writers.  I think I'll take the cable car!
Caption

In the year 66 CE, the Jewish people rebelled against the Roman Empire. A group of Jews called Zealots took over the Masada and began living there. The Romans built a wall at the bottom of the Masada, and they put eight camps of soldiers there. It was impossible to attack the fortress (imagine trying to charge up the snake path). So the Romans tried to starve these Zealots out. Their plan didn't work because the Zealots had enough food to last for five years.

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The remains of the great fortress.
The remains of the great fortress.

Next the Romans decided to build a ramp up the steep hill. The Zealots tried to stop the Romans. They threw rocks down on the workers' heads. The Romans forced other Jewish people to build the ramp. The Zealots did not want to

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for larger view
An outside door at the Basilica.
Caption

Then the Romans rolled a battering ram up the hill. The Zealots made a plan to defend themselves. They built a double wall out of wood, with earth in between. When the battering ram hit that wall, the wall just pushed into the earth harder, instead of bursting apart.

Vocabulary Box

fortress - a big, strong building
CE - abbreviation for "Common Era," referring to time in Year 1 and later. Also called AD
battering ram - a heavy wood or metal beam used to push down walls

The Romans decided to burn down the walls. The Zealots knew then that the Romans would get through the walls. They did not want to let the Romans win. The Zealots destroyed all their belongings so that the Romans would not take them. Then they killed themselves so that the Romans wouldn't get to kill them.

Today Jewish soldiers in Israel make a promise that "the Masada will not fall again!" They promise to protect their country so that the history of Masada will not repeat itself.

Abeja

p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...abejahummel@bigfoot.com
 

Monica - A Planet Called Earth, a Place Called Jerusalem

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