Friday, May 13, 2011

A Mighty Fortress: He's My Security - May 12, 2011

Psalm 62:1-4 (New International Reader's Version)
1 I find my rest in God alone.
He is the One who saves me.

2 He alone is my rock. He is the One who saves me.
He is like a fort to me. I will always be secure.

3 How long will you enemies attack me?
Will all of you throw me down?
I'm like a leaning wall.
I'm like a fence that is about to fall.

4 You only want to pull me down
from my place of honor.
You take delight in telling lies.
You bless me with what you say.
But in your hearts you call down curses on me.

Selah


According to Josephus Flavius, the 1st century Jewish historian, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory.

Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 AD, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-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 CE, 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 one thousand 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. 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.(1)

The Jews had placed their faith in high places and fortifications, only to be eventually overcome by their enemies. We tend to do the same thing, placing our faith in our own works and efforts, our jobs and places of high position, only to be without security when the enemies come against us.

Photo of "Horvot Mezada, Mesada,The Stronghold" from Bibleplaces.com
(1)Jewish Virtual Library - Masada

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