THE JEWISH-ROMAN WARS I

Weapons and Warfare

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Jerusalem

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Masada

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66–135

Sparked by religious intolerance and lengthened by intractable zealotry, the Jewish-Roman Wars caused the Diaspora of the Jewish people, which would lead to the beginning of the state of israel in the twentieth century.

The ancient fortress mountain of Masada rises 1,300 feet (396 m) above the Dead Sea, a stark reminder of the effect of religious zealotry on warfare. For it was here, in the year 73, that a group of almost 1,000 Jewish rebels—to be more precise, members of the fanatical wing of rebels known to the Romans as Sicarii, or “knife-wielders”—held off a determined assault by the Roman army and then, when all was lost, committed mass suicide. When the Roman Commander General Flavius Silva finally led his army into the Sicarii stronghold, he found the bodies of 960 rebels—men, women, and children. Only two women and five children, hiding in a cistern, were…

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