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Masada in the 1st and 21st centuries

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Chapter Summary

Book 7 of the War offers a concentrated selection of several case studies of Roman imperialism in action. Josephus describes the encounters between Roman commanders with their armies and the Jewish rebels in various locations to show how choosing to resist Rome leads to self-destruction. The Jewish rebels are the opponent in this history, and in Book 7, Masada is the paradigmatic case of the futility of opposing Roman imperialism. Though UNESCO has labeled Masada a place that speaks "of the continuing human struggle between oppression and liberty", this chapter shows that as we examine the latter part of Book 7 systematically, we shall find that the literary accompaniment that Josephus provides to the archaeological site itself offers a much more complex and layered portrait than UNESCO's well-intentioned picture of victimized freedom fighters does. The presentation of the "Masada myth" is going to continue to evolve as Israel's self-definition changes.

Keywords: Book 7; Israel; Jewish rebels; Josephus; Masada; Roman imperialism; Wars



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