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Mrs. Rippy hosts Delphians

Mrs. Rippy hosts Delphians

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2008 9:06 pm

The Delphian Review Club met recently in the home of Martha Rippy with 17 members present. Martha Clendenin read James Whitcomb Riley’s amusing poem “Little Orphan Annie” for the thought for the day. Following the business meeting, Pat Wade presented a moving program on Masada, Israel. Masada is an ancient mountaintop fortress in southeast Israel and the site of the Jews’ last stand against the Romans after the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. It is situated atop an isolated rock cliff at the western end of the Judean desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. It is a place of gaunt and majestic beauty. On the east, the rock falls in a sheer drop of about 450 meters to the Dead Sea and in the west it stands about 100 meters above the surrounding terrain. The natural approaches to the cliff top are very difficult. The only written source about Masada is by Jewish historian Josephus Flavius in his “The Jewish War.” According to Josephus Flavis, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 B.C. and made it a royal citadel. Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 A.D., a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 A.D.), they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harrased the Romans for two years. Then in 73 A.D., the Roman govenor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the 10th Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoner-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 A.D., moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders — almost 1,000 men, women and children — led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. “And so met (the Romans) with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution, and at the immovable contempt of death which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.” The zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself. The heroic story of Masada and its dramatic end attracted many explorers to the Judean desert in attempts to locate the remains of the fortress. The site was identified in 1842, but intensive excavations took place only in 1963-65, with the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Israel and from many foreign countries, eager to participate in this exciting archeological venture. To them and to Israelis, Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jewish people to be free in their own land. Following the program, the members enjoyed a delicious pound cake served by co-hostess Gail Latimer. Published in The Messenger 10.16.08

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