Masada is a flat-topped mountain on the western shore of the Dead Sea, on which Herod the Great restored a massive fortress adding 2 palaces with a Roman bath, well stocked storerooms and deep cisterns for collecting drinking water. As impressive as this is, Masada is best known to Jesus as the place of ultimate courage and sacrifice. It was here in 74ad that about 1000 Jewish rebels made a last stand against a Roman legion who had laid seige to the mountain for months. When it became clear that the Romans would overtake the fortress, Eleazar Beu-Yair, the leader of the Jews inspired his followers to choose to die in freedom rather than to live as slaves to the Romans. Ten men were chosen by lot to kill all the others and then themselves, which they did. The next morning when the Romans breached the wall they found no one to meet them. All was silent. They found all bodies of the Jews in Herod's palace.
The Jewish historian Josephus wrote: "Here, encounterning the mass of slain, instead of exalting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of their resolve and the contempt of death displayed by so many in carrying it, unwavering into execution."
Today Masada is a common site of Bar Mitzvah ceremonies and the commissioning of Isreali military units. Masada is aplace of rememberance, sacrafice, freedom, and national identity.