As recorded by Josephus Flavius, Herod had his luxurious and well-stocked refuge and winter palace built at Masada. Apparently he never used it before he died in 4 BCE. After the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, rebels fled to the fortress. When it became the last rebel stronghold in Judea, the Roman Tenth Legion of 8,000 troops laid siege to it over a few months. Once the Romans built a ramp up the side and it was clear to the rebels that they would lose, their leader, Eleazar Ben Yair convinced the 960 men, women and children that it would be better to kill themselves than to become slaves. And so they did.
© Elizabeth Willoughby 2008