Josephus wasn’t there when Masada fell. He was already settled in Rome. He doubtless knew what had happened from the reports of the army commanders—he was an honored guest of Caesar and apparently had access to all of the relevant material—but perhaps the story is simply not true. Perhaps the mass murder and the one suicide never happened. Perhaps the “lots” were simply food rationing coupons.
There is no final answer to this problem, nor will there ever be an answer until and unless we find another contemporary historian who had written a first-hand account of the Great Revolt in a book long-lost and now discovered. Until that happens we are left with Josephus. We can’t live without him! Traveling the country with his book in hand, we see the marvelous accuracy of his descriptions and details. We find almost nothing which is contradicted by archaeological excavation or which conflicts with literary and historical accounts by others of the events of the first centuries BC and AD, and much which is confirmed.
We don’t have to believe in the transcriptions of various speeches and emotions expressed in his narrative, exciting as they are. We do believe, however, in the facts and history he records. Like it or not, Josephus is our source for Masada. In the end, although we don’t like him as a person, we trust him.
It is therefore prudent for us to stay with the guiding principle we have for judging all great historical documents (including the Bible!); to accept the text as written unless we have very good reason to question it. Thus the ten pieces of pottery (shards) from Masada, replicated and offered by Biblical Reproductions, may stand as described; remains from the Revolt against Rome in the year 73 AD.
Outstanding replicas of the lots discovered at Masada can Exquisite replicas of the pottery shard lots discovered at Masada can be purchased at www.biblicalreproductions.com . Biblical Reproductions is licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Author: Walter Zanger