Baron Wolman

ON THE COVER: Masada, an isolated plateau on the western shore of the Dead Sea, lies silent at the edge of the Judean wilderness. For millennia its name has been associated with a legendary act of defiance. According to the first-century A.D. historian Josephus, the last of the Jewish rebels in the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (66–73/74 A.D.) chose to take their owns lives at Masada rather than surrender to their enemies. Archaeological excavations of the site in the 1960s, led by distinguished Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin, revealed what many believed were the remains of some of these heroes. But in this issue, Joseph Zias asks whether Yadin deliberately manipulated his finds to fit Josephus’ account (“Whose Bones?”). Nachman Ben-Yehuda examines Josephus’ text to pinpoint where the mass suicide may have occurred (“Where Masada’s Defenders Fell”). And Ze’ev Meshel explores how Masada and other Judean desert sites became the traditional holdout of Jewish leaders in exile (“Governments-in-Exile”).