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Siege Of Masada Essay

1149 words - 5 pages

In their final stand against the Romans, 966 Sicarii committed suicide on top of the Masada Palace complex. After holding out on Masada for three years, Flavius Silva and the Tenth Legion of the Roman army confronted the Sicarii (Cite). Once the Romans got through the Sicarii’s last wall of defense, instead of trying to flee or fight back, the Sicarii heeded the words of their leader, Eleazar ben Yair. They resolved to end their lives before ever being conquered by the Romans. The Sicarii’s desire to be free from Roman oppression along with their extreme social ideology ultimately drove them to end their lives rather than submit to the Romans at Masada.
The Sicarii’s yearning to be free of ...view middle of the document...

This extreme ideology stemmed from a doctrine the Sicarii followed called the Fourth Philosophy. Judas of Galilee, a founder of the Sicarii movement, wrote this philosophy in 6 CE (Cite). The main idea of this philosophy held the belief that God alone should be man’s sole ruler. Eleazar reminded his followers of this belief right before their act of suicide saying, “...we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself...” (Cite). The Sicarii believed any act of service or submission to the Romans defied God’s role as sole ruler over mankind. This included paying taxes to the Roman government and even acknowledging Rome’s occupation of appointing the high priest. By committing suicide on Masada, the Sicarii kept true the idea of God as their sole ruler instead of submitting to the Romans.
Along with this main belief, the fourth philosophy expressed an inseparable attachment to liberty. Eleazar, while urging his followers to commit suicide, said, “For it is death which give liberty to the soul and permits it to depart to its pure abode, there to be free from all calamity; but so long as it is imprisoned in a mortal body and tainted with all its miseries, it is, in sober truth, dead, for association with what is mortal ill benefits that which is divine.” The Sicarii saw the fate that was held for them if they surrendered to the Romans; thousands of Jewish prisoners of war were used as slaves in the Romans attack on Masada (Cite). They knew suicide would keep them from the calamity they would suffer from their enemies if they were captured. If the Sicarii could not be free in their mortal bodies, they found it necessary to die in order to gain liberty through death. An unparalleled love for liberty and the idea of God being man’s sole ruler made up the Fourth Philosophy made up the foundation for the Sicarii’s extreme ideology.
The extreme ideology, to which the Sicarii held tightly, compelled them to lay down their lives in the most courageous manner. They eagerly demonstrated their courage and conduct as they prepared to slaughter themselves and their families. Josephus remarks on the boldness of the men as they prepared to slay their families saying, “ great was the zeal they were in to slay their wives and children, and...

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