Assess the Significance of the Great Revolt of Jerusalem and the Siege of Masada Historical Investigation | Table of Contents Preamble1 The Revolt1 Masada3 Significance4 Historical Investigation Preamble Figure 1 (below) Source: http://www. jewishagency. org/NR/rdonlyres/0A8F1B8A-9FBC-49D6-B0DB-028F98B26762/46399/jlm21. jpg The great revolt of Jerusalem and the siege of Masada has had a significant impact on many people of different nations for centuries. In 63 B. C. E, the Great Revolt begun when Rome occupied Israel.
Life under the Roman rule was harsh. Various factors influenced The Great Revolt. Three main elements in particular played a huge role in influencing the revolt. These were taxes, the appointment of high priest and the treatment of the Jews. The events that took place in the revolt led to the fall of Jerusalem and the encapturing and enslavement of Jews. Any Jews who escaped fled to Masada where they committed mass suicide. The acts that were committed at Masada have had mixed responses from people all around the world for hundreds of years. The Revolt
As was previously mentioned, there were 3 main causes for the revolt of Jerusalem. Roman governors were responsible for collecting tax. However, the problem lied in the fact that these men did not simply collect what was owed. Instead, a collection of the owing amount, plus pocket surplus money, was made. This was allowed by Roman rule, and thus the Jews simply had to suffer with such unfavourable, and corrupt, circumstances. The High Priest served in the temple, and on their holy days, he would represent the Jews. Previously the Jews were in charge of the appointment of their high priest.
Soon, however, the Romans concluded that they should take over that privilege, resulting in the High Priest being only those who conspired with Rome. Thus, a significant aspect of the lives of the Jews changed dramatically, as their High Priest now became a part of those they least trusted by the Jews. Furthermore, Roman soldiers openly displayed discrimination against the Jews. Instances such as exposing themselves in their temple, stealing silver from the temple and burning the Torah scroll occurred. Such harsh actions against the Jews would have greatly influenced the Great Revolt.
As a result of all these evils made against the Jews, a group called the “Zealots” formed. This group arose in the beginning of the Common Era made up of individuals who were Jews, fed up with the cruelty of the Romans and mistreatment of their people. These anti-Roman rebels ignited the Great Revolt. Josephus wrote about the Zealots. He said: “For Zealots they called themselves, as if they were devoted to good works, not zealous for all that was vile, vile beyond belief” (Wars IV. 161). Josephus Jewish Antiquities states that there were three main Jewish sects at this time, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.
The Zealots were a “fourth sect”, founded by Judas of Galilee and Zadok. This group believed that God was to be their only Ruler and Lord and so should not be ruled over by the Romans. Thus, after many years of suffering, the Zealots finally took action and revolted against the Romans, beginning the Great Revolt. In the year 66, Florus, the last Roman procurator, stole vast quantities of silver from the Temple. The outraged Jewish masses rioted and wiped out the small Roman garrison stationed in Jerusalem. Cestius Gallus, the Roman ruler in neighboring Syria, sent in a larger force of soldiers.
The Jewish insurgents, however, routed them as well. Although the Jews celebrated this as a victory, it had serious consequences. This victory led to an increased confidence amongst the Jews – a new belief that they could most certainly conquer Rome. As a result, the number of Zealots grew dramatically. However, when the Romans returned, 60,000 heavily armed and highly professional troops were ready, launching their first attack against the Jewish state’s most radicalized area – the Galilee in the north. The Romans vanquished the Galilee and an estimated 100,000 Jews were killed or old into slavery. The highly resentful refugees who succeeded in escaping the Galilean massacres fled to the last major Jewish stronghold—Jerusalem. There they annihilated anyone amongst the Jewish leaders who were not as radical as they were. Thus, all the more moderate Jewish leaders who headed the Jewish government at the revolt’s beginning in 66 were dead by 68, and not one died at the hands of a Roman. Rather, all were killed by their own people – the Jews. The scene was now set for the grand finale – the final catastrophe.
Outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Roman troops were armed and ready to attack. Inside the city, Jews were engaging in a worthless suicidal civil war which only added to the final destruction of the city. In 70 C. E the Romans violently penetrated the walls of Jerusalem and initiated mass violence and destruction. Soon after they destroyed the second temple. This was the final and most devastating blow the Romans had against Judea. Masada Figure 2 (above) Source: http://www. netplaces. com/jewish-history-heritage/under-roman-rule/the-final-stand-at-masada. tm In August 66, a man named Menahem began a raid on the fortress of Masada, where he seized masses of weapons. The group of Menahem was called Sicarians (‘dagger men’). The individuals making up this group hailed their leader as king of the Jews and went to Jerusalem, where they laid siege to the remaining Roman garrison. The Sicarians had occupied Masada. These people were religious fanatics, who belonged to the Zealot movement, which he held responsible for the outbreak of the war and the destruction of Jerusalem.
Masada was a fortress situated in the Judean desert on a single standing plateau with rough, steep cliffs, overlooking the Dead Sea. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple, the 960 Jews who escaped took refuge in the fortress of Masada. The Romans found these Jews and planned to lay siege on them. In 72, the Roman governor of Judaea, Lucius Flavius Silva, led Roman legion X Fretensis to lay siege to the 960 people in Masada. The Roman legion surrounded Masada and built a circumvallation wall and then a siege embankment against the western face of the plateau.
When this happened the victims of Masada decided that they couldn’t fall to the sword of Rome again, so they proposed the idea of mass suicide. The barricade was complete in the spring of 73, after probably two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram on April 16. According to Josephus, however, when the Romans entered the fortress they discovered that its 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and had committed mass suicide.
Because Judaism prohibits suicide, however, Josephus reported that the defenders had drawn lots and killed each other in turn, down to the last man, who would be the only one to actually take his own life. Two women who survived the suicide by hiding inside a cistern supposedly related the account of the siege of Masada to Josephus. Under normal circumstances, Rome would not have bothered about Masada. However, it had suffered humiliating setbacks during the first stage of the war, when X Fretensis lost its eagle standard, and the empire had been suffering from civil war.
The defenders of Masada simply had to be killed to reinforce an ancient imperialist superpower’s reputation of invincibility and power. Significance The events that occurred in the Great Revolt and the Siege of Masada have had a huge effect on Jews all around the world for centuries following. When people of our present day speak of the almost two-thousand-year span of Jewish homelessness and exile, they are dating it from the failure of the revolt and the destruction of the Temple.
In addition to the more than one million Jews killed, these failed rebellions led to the total loss of Jewish political authority in Israel until 1948. The account may have also had an effect on other civilizations around at the time. The rebellion may have sparked smaller revolts in neighboring countries against Rome for their own rights. Witnessing the harsh consequences that the Jews had to experience as a result of rebelling against the Romans, however, may have proved to be a powerful lesson for such ones to never disobey or go against the extreme rulership and power of Rome.
Although no historian has ever specifically recorded such situations, we can only imagine that there simply the events surrounding the Jews must have had a huge effect on many people at that time. Although primarily an event which affected Jews and influenced Judaism until this very day, the Great Revolt and the fall of Jerusalem in particular influenced Christianity as well. For one thing, the exile of the Jews from their homeland forced them to become even more exclusive than