On July 3, 1983, David Rosenfeld, a young Israeli guard at the Herodium excavations was brutally murdered by Bedouin who belonged to Fatah—the largest of the terrorist groups comprising the PLO. The murderers chose Friday to perpetrate their vicious crime because our regular Arab guards were observing the Moslem sabbath and David was alone. David was stabbed nearly 100 times. In their ecstasy, the murderers also managed to stab themselves and as a result they were apprehended.

Two days after David was killed, Arab and Jew, American and Israeli cleaned up the caked blood and said the Kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead. Then, together, we continued our work on the excavation.

David left a wife, Dorit, and two small children, Daniel, 2½, and Alexander, 1½.

This article is dedicated to David. May his memory be a blessing.


Josephus mentions another site named Herodium “on the Arabian frontier” (The Jewish War I, 419). The parallel passage in Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities (XV, 323–325) does not mention it, so its existence is doubtful, although possible.


A cubit was approximately equivalent to 18 inches.



Josephus, The Jewish War I, 670–673; Jewish Antiquities XVII, 196–199.


Jewish Antiquities XIV, 381–389, 487–488.


The Jewish War V, 161–175.


The Jewish War V, 242.


The Jewish War I, 412.


On my excavations at Jericho, see Suzanne Singer, “The Winter Palaces of Jericho,” BAR 03:02, and my article, BAR Readers Restore and Preserve Herodian Jericho,” BAR 04:04.


The Jewish War I, 670–673, Jewish Antiquities 196–200.