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The Deluge (Great Flood) 1


The next great event in the Bible concerns the Deluge – the Biblical Flood.

Genesis 6
He said to Noe: The end of all flesh is come before me, the earth is filled with iniquity through them, and I will destroy them with the earth.
14 Make thee an ark of timber planks: thou shalt make little rooms in the ark, and thou shalt pitch it within and without.
15 And thus shalt thou make it. The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits: the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.
16 Thou shalt make a window in the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish the top of it: and the door of the ark thou shalt set in the side: with lower, middle chambers, and third stories shalt thou make it.
17 Behold, I will bring the waters of a great flood upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life under heaven. All things that are in the earth shall be consumed.
18 And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt enter into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and the wives of thy sons with thee.
19 And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee: of the male sex, and the female.
20 Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of every thing that creepeth on the earth according to its kind: two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live.
21 Thou shalt take unto thee of all food that may be eaten, and thou shalt lay it up with thee: and it shall be food for thee and them.
22 And Noe did all things which God commanded him.

Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. Genesis 7
1 And the Lord said to him: Go in, thou and all thy house, into the ark: for thee I have seen just before me in this generation.
Of all clean beasts take seven and seven, the male and the female.
3 But of the beasts that are unclean two and two, the male and the female. Of the fowls also of the air seven and seven, the male and the female: that seed may be saved upon the face of the whole earth.
4 For yet a while, and after seven days, I will rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights: and I will destroy every substance that I have made, from the face of the earth.
5 And Noe did all things which the Lord had commanded him.
6 And he was six hundred years old, when the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.
7 And Noe went in and his sons, his wife and the wives of his sons with him into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.
8 And of beasts clean and unclean, and of fowls, and of every thing that moveth upon the earth,
9 Two and two went in to Noe into the ark, male and female, as the Lord had commanded Noe.
10 And after the seven days were passed, the waters of the flood overflowed the earth.
11 In the six hundredth year of the life of Noe, in the second month, in the seventeenth day of the month, all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the floodgates of heaven were opened:
12 And the rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.
13 In the selfsame day Noe, and Sem, and Cham, and Japheth, his sons: his wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, went into the ark.
14 They and every beast according to its kind, and all the cattle in their kind, and every thing that moveth upon the earth, according to its kind, and every fowl according to its kind, all birds, and all that fly,
15 Went in to Noe into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein was the breath of life.
16 And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in on the outside.

Erasmus: Erasmus.

Now I just have to say something about gathering up all the animals onto the Ark. I believe that God was referring to human commercial animals to be gathered up along with a mention of any local critters fleeing flooding. (IE Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, dogs, cats, rats and mice. Horses arrived on the scene 3500 BC, having been first domesticated on the steppes of Southern Russia and Kazakhstan).

How many animals are in Iran?
In total, there are over 190 mammal species in Iran.
In total Iran hosts more than 240 species of amphibian and reptile and many species still await description or discovery- especially in the Delta zones of the rivers
The avian fauna of Iran include a total of 568 species.

This many animals would not fit on the Ark and over 150 days would probably eat each other or starve to death.

Goo: Goo the Numbat. You forgot to mention the Budgie. Noah would have wanted to save his Budgie. They do talk to you - you know.

Erasmus: Erasmus. Sorry . Budgies are an Australian bird: Budgerigar properly. They really only entered the world scene in 1805, after Australia was colonised.

Let's Continue. I just had to say something about the ridiculous assumption that all the animals of the earth were saved aboard the Ark. And there are lots more animals and critters in the rest of the world- in places where no arks were built. Notably the Budgie. We have not even mentioned insects.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. 17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth: and the waters increased, and lifted up the ark on high from the earth.
18 For they overflowed exceedingly: and filled all on the face of the earth: and the ark was carried upon the waters.
19 And the waters prevailed beyond measure upon the earth: and all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered.
20 The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains which it covered.
21 And all flesh was destroyed that moved upon the earth, both of fowl and of cattle, and of beasts, and of all creeping things that creep upon the earth: and all men.
22 And all things wherein there is the breath of life on the earth, died.
23 And he destroyed all the substance that was upon the earth, from man even to beast, and the creeping things and fowls of the air: and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noe only remained, and they that were with him in the ark.
24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundred and fifty days.

Genesis 8
1 And God remembered Noe, and all the living creatures, and all the cattle which were with him in the ark, and brought a wind upon the earth, and the waters were abated:
2 The fountains also of the deep, and the floodgates of heaven, were shut up, and the rain from heaven was restrained.
3 And the waters returned from off the earth going and coming: and they began to be abated after a hundred and fifty days.
4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, the seven and twentieth day of the month, upon the mountains of Armenia.
5 And the waters were going and decreasing until the tenth month: for in the tenth month, the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains appeared.
6 And after that forty days were passed, Noe opening the window of the ark, which he had made, sent forth a raven:
7 Which went forth and did not return, till the waters were dried up upon the earth.
8 He sent forth also a dove after him, to see if the waters had now ceased upon the face of the earth.
9 But she not finding where her foot might rest, returned to him into the ark: for the waters were upon the whole earth: and he put forth his hand, and caught her, and brought her into the ark.
10 And having waited yet seven other days, he again sent forth the dove out of the ark.
11 And she came to him in the evening carrying a bough of an olive tree, with green leaves, in her mouth. Noe therefore understood that the waters were ceased upon the earth.
12 And he stayed yet other seven days: and he sent forth the dove, which returned not any more unto him.
13 Therefore in the six hundredth and first year, the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were lessened upon the earth, and Noe opening the covering of the ark, looked, and saw that the face of the earth was dried.
14 In the second month, the seven and twentieth day of the month, the earth was dried.
15 And God spoke to Noe, saying:
16 Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons and the wives of thy sons with thee.
17 All living things that are with thee of all flesh, as well in fowls as in beasts, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, bring out with thee, and go ye upon the earth: increase and multiply upon it.
18 So Noe went out, he and his sons: his wife, and the wives of his sons with him.
19 And all living things, and cattle, and creeping things that creep upon the earth, according to their kinds went out of the ark.



Deluge Flooding pattern

Deluge Flooding Pattern: Note there is a lot of very high ground flooded.
Note there are lakes now that never existed before - that can be travelled over- much like an inland sea. Extraordinary rainfall overcomes natural drainage capacity especially if narrow river valleys are involved - creating flooding.
The situation is akin to the Great Lakes geography in the USA.
Great Lakes Geography Great Lakes Geography




Kinkajou:Kinkajou. The story of the flood is applicable to many cultures around the planet. The Bible reports it. The Epic of Gilgamesh reports it. A number of Sumerian texts report it. There are similar reports of a flood in other parts of the globe as well.
The clearest congruence between Mesopotamian and biblical narrative is found in story of the deluge.

In the Mesopotamian version it is Enki who goes out of his way to warn his faithful follower Ziuadra / Utnapishtim of the coming catastrophe . Enki instructs his faithful follower to build the watertight ark, giving him specifications and dimensions and directing him to save the seed of animal life.

In the Bible, this is done by Yahweh. (different names, same role).

A Sumerian inscription CBS10673 says that the God Enki releases to his faithful follower Ziusudra – a secret of the gods. The secret is that at the instigation of an angry Enlil, the gods had decided to destroy the seed of mankind by the deluge.


Goo: Goo the Numbat. The key issues are: raining 40 days and waters abating only after 150 days. Some texts report a darkening of the sky prior to the appearance of rain.


Erasmus: Erasmus. In spite of what is mentioned in the Bible, all life on the planet was not destroyed. I would get the impression that it is human settlement that has been targeted. And human settlement particularly clusters around waterways and sea coasts. This would make it particularly vulnerable to flooding or even tidal wave like events.

A true oceanic tidal wave would be absolutely devastating especially if a 60 m wave were to develop. Places in Indonesia faced 30m Tsunami waves with the 2004 Indiuan Ocean earthquake / Tsunami.

Our calculations suggest that rain is the predominant ancillary mechanism of the Great Deluge. The rain is worldwide and extensive and persistent – in effect lasting up to 40 days.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. In Mesopotamian records of the day it is described as an avalanche of rising waters storming from the south, overwhelming and submerging all as it rushed forth. In an Akkadian version (Gilgamesh tablet XI), the first manifestation of the deluge was a “black cloud that arose from the horizon – followed by storms that tore out the posts and collapsed the dikes”. One Sumerian tale of the deluge mentioned howling winds but did not mention rain.

The Rivers of Southern Mesopotamia- the Tigris and the Euphrates
The Rivers of Southern Mesopotamia- the Tigris and the Euphrates

Erasmus: Erasmus. This level of wind and energy suggests an explosive event such as a cometary / (meteorite) impact as the cause of the wind. We have hypothesized that multiple (up to 400 impacts of 38m comets) would be necessary to create an ocean rise of 3m – by melting ice, (short term).

Note that in another part of our web site we make the point that a cubit is actually 21.106114054160 cm. The Bible quotes :
: 20 :  The water was fifteen cubits higher than the mountains which it covered.
This equates to 3 metres of water rise.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. It is thought that the deluge occurred approximately 13,000 years ago. That is about 11,000 years BC. Sumeria as a civilisation first began to blossom approximately 5000 BC. (i.e. 7000 years ago).So any records of the deluge survived only as a verbal history passed on from generation to generation.

Erasmus: Erasmus. Of note, the first ice age ended approximately 13,000 years ago – rapidly and abruptly according to geophysical studies. Was the deluge a precipitating event for change?

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. There is some evidence suggesting that instant freeze occurred in parts of the planet. Thousands of mammoths grazing on temperate vegetation, became encased like ripe fruit in ice. Other similar organic matter is found also, frozen or petrified – before the normal course of decay could ensue.

Goo: Goo the Numbat. Seems there is a disparity here. If the ice age ended from heating, how can some places become frozen. And if they were frozen, wouldn’t they be unfrozen in a part of the planet which subsequently became warm allowing normal decomposition.

Erasmus: Erasmus. . Possibly a better theory would be that whatever “impact” occurred ending the ice age, caused widespread cloud formation and temperature drop over large parts of the planet although causing significant heating and ice melting within the vicinity of impact points. A cometary hit is the likely impact cause.

(We make the distinction between meteors and comets as our calculations suggest that to melt the ice, the greater energy from the greater speed of cometary impacts, would be necessary).

Another possibility is that the mammoths were in the earliest spring region of a tundra zone, and were pushed into colder zones by floodwaters and local weather, allowing long-term freezing as the weather calmed, with added cooling from comet impact clouds.

Another possibility is that perhaps noxious gases were thrown up and that these are followed by sudden death with eventual freezing rather than instant freezing due to “ super” cold. Mammoths caught where they normally would not go, and dying there by accident of vulcanism effects, (gas), in areas initially warmed and then cooling where the mammoths would not normally go. Being covered in mud from flooding would aid the preservation of the animals in permafrost.

Another possibility is that although the general ice sheets were impacted and melted, climate change caused an uneven temperature changes around the planet. Yes the planet became generally warmer as ice sheets melted. But some small patches may have become instantly much colder – especially in such continental areas such as the high Asian landmass e.g. Siberia. Certainly the long-term appearance of thick black rain clouds for say 150 days would cause substantial cooling in many areas.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. Where we live, we have had a very cloudy and as a result quite a cool winter. Cloud cover and its albedo is important in dictating temperature.

Erasmus: Erasmus. If there were tidal effects of ocean water across the earth landmasses for 150 days, it would have to be expected that there will be almost total extinction of most of the animal and plant life on the planet. Many things can cope with being inundated for a day or perhaps to, but there is very little that can withstand being submerged for 150 days. And then in the recovery phase, prolonged exposure of soils to highly salty oceanic all seawater, would certainly cause devastation of the vegetation. Anything which lived would starve to death in the hundreds of years that it would take for vegetation regrowth and forestry growth to occur.

That is why I think that there is a combination of tsunami and flooding effects brought about through comet (or high speed meteor) impacts.

Sumerian records relate that one Mesopotamian ruler Xisuthios built a boat, put on board his wife and children and closest friends and birds and animals.

Other records suggest a Shuruppak, to be the hometown of Utnapishtim, thought to be Noah of the Deluge.

Supposedly the ark came to rest on the slopes of Mt Ararat. Most people assume that this means the top of the mountain. However, the mountain is 5000m high. To assume the ark floated to the top of Mt Ararat, is to assume that 5000m of water was covering the planet. A tidal wave of 5000m height would exterminate all life across huge swathes of the planet, a die off likely to be visible for thousands of years.

Mt Ararat

Mt Ararat

Goo: Goo the Numbat. I have just looked up about the last big Tsunami on the planet.

The death rates from the  2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami (also known as the Boxing Day Tsunami (caused by the Sumatra–Andaman earthquake) was very high. People did not just drown from inundation. Becoming entangled in loosened vegetation trapped people beneath the water for the few critical minutes needed to cause death. The earthquake was caused by a rupture along the fault between the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate. And registered approximately 9.1 – 9.3 on the Richter scale.

A series of massive tsunami waves grew up to 30 m (100 ft.) high once heading inland, after being created by the underwater seismic activity offshore. Communities along the surrounding coasts of the Indian Ocean were devastated, and the tsunamis killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

A Tsunami Wave
A Tsunami Wave

The earthquake was the third-largest ever recorded, the largest in the 21st century and had the longest duration of faulting ever observed, between eight and ten minutes. It caused the planet to vibrate as much as 10 mm (0.4 in).

Erasmus: Erasmus. The Boxing day tsunami would have been a real pussycat compared to an event like the Great Deluge. The worldwide effects of the Great Deluge may well have included Tsunamis in some regions, but severe cloud cover , strong winds and extensive rain from asteroid impacts are the more likely causes of the devastation from the pattern and extent of damage as inferred.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. I think the only logical assumption is that the ark landed at the bottom of the mountain and the occupants of the craft went up the mountain to get a better view. Mt Ararat has plains surrounding it (look at the picture), so floating across these would be quite possible after intensive rains. Long term persistent winds could exacerbate the water levels on the plains : in effect creating a storm surge tidal effect.

Human beings would naturally climb higher to get a view of the surrounding region. The main challenge to the “climbing” of the mountain is the height of the mountain and the low oxygen levels with altitude.

Erasmus: Erasmus. The other interesting fact to observe is the proportions of the ark. I believe there is a different answer for the dimensions of the ark, one a bit more keyed to reality. The Epic of Gilgamesh reports an ark of 300 (133m) cubits long, 120 Cubits wide (53m) and having six decks in seven levels.

Genesis reports an ark of 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits in height with only three stories, including the roof. This gives dimensions of 133m* 22 m * 13 m tall. This is assuming the current commonly accepted Cubit measure of 444.25mm or 17.49 inches.


Kinkajou:Kinkajou. Now let’s have a look at some of the dimensions of the largest wooden ships built in the world.

Wyoming 140 m(450 ft.)* 15.3 m (50 ft. 1 in) Lifetime :1909–1924 This ship had a tendency to flex in heavy seas, causing the planks to twist and buckle due to their extreme length despite being fitted with metal bracing. Water was evacuated nearly constantly by steam pumps. It foundered in heavy seas with loss of all hands.
(Fate :SUNK)

Solano 130 m(425 ft.)* 35 m (116 ft.) Lifetime: 1878–1931 A paddle steamer used to ferry passengers and trains across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa, California. The wooden-hulled Solano had tall masts in the centre of mass ("hogposts") anchoring several wires ("guys") that strengthened the hull against the weight of the trains.
(Fate : Scuttled)

USS Dunderberg (later  Rochambeau) 115.0 m(377.3 ft.)* 22.2 m (72.8 ft.) Lifetime: 1865–1874. Ironclad built in New York City, originally intended for the United States Navy during the American Civil War, but eventually sold to the French Navy. About 50 feet (15 m) of her length was a ram. She was not particularly stable or seaworthy and only made one oceanic voyage to reach her new owners.
(Fate: Broken Up)

Columbus 108 m (356 ft.)* 15.4 m (50 ft.) Lifetime ; 1824–1825
First timber ship or disposable ship[2] with a four-masted barque rigging. Built in Quebec to avoid taxes on timber, her cargo and components were intended to be sold after the ship's arrival in London; however, the owner had only the cargo sold and ordered the ship back for a second voyage with a timber cargo; the ship broke apart and sunk in the English Channel. (Fate : SUNK)

Caligula's Giant Ship c. 104 m(341 feet)* 20.3 m(66 ft.) Lifetime : c. 37 AD
Traces of this Roman barge were found during the construction of Leonardo da Vinci International Airport at Fiumicino, Italy, just north of the ancient port of Ostia. According to Pliny, this or a similar ship was used to transport the obelisk in St. Peter's Square from Egypt on the orders of Emperor Caligula.
(Fate: broken up and used for building materials).

Caligula's Giant Ship Caligula's Giant Ship

Pretoria 103 m (338 ft.)* 13.4 m Lifetime(44 ft.) 1900–1905 A barge built for use on the Great Lakes. To strengthen the wooden frame and hull, steel keelson plates, chords, and arches were included, and was also diagonally strapped with steel. A steam pump kept the ship empty from water leaks.
(Fate: SUNK)

Great Republic (later  Denmark) 102.1 m(335 ft.)* 16.2 m(53 ft.) Lifetime : 1853–1872 The largest wooden clipper ship ever built. It used iron bolts and was reinforced with steel, including ninety 36-foot (11 m) 4x1-inch cross braces, and metal keelsons.  The MIT Museum noted that "With this behemoth, McKay had pushed wooden ship construction to its practical limits."[7] The ship was abandoned leaking after encountering a  hurricane  near Bermuda.
(Fate : SUNK)

HMS Orlando,  HMS Mersey 102.1 m(335 ft.)* 18.3 m (60 ft.) Lifetime: 1858–1871, 1858–1875 respectively. Sister British warships that suffered structural problems due to their length despite having internal iron strapping to support the hull.
(Fate : broken up).

One of the most successful wooden ships designed was the Cutty Sark. 212 feet 5 inches (64.7 metres) long and 36 feet (11 metres) wide, and it had a net tonnage of 921. Such a size is much more realistic in terms of being able to be built and of being functional and safe.

She was a three-masted British clipper ship, launched at Dumbarton, Dunbartonshire, Scotland, in 1869. This ship had substantial metal components to improve its efficiency. The hull was covered by Muntz metal sheeting up to the 18 ft. (5.5 m) depth mark, and all the external timbers were secured by Muntz metal bolts to the internal iron frame. The wrought-iron frame was an innovation first experimented with in shipbuilding in the 1840s, and was the standard building method for tea clippers by the middle of the 1860s.? It consisted of frames (vertical), beams (horizontal) and cross bracing (diagonal members).

The diagonally-braced iron frame made for a strong, rigid ship; diagonal members prevent racking (shearing, where frame rectangles become parallelograms), Less working and leaking of the hull meant less crew time spent pumping, allowing more time to be spent on changes of sail. The wrought-iron-framed hull also took up less cargo space than an all-wood hull would have done. The Muntz metal sheeting reduced fouling of Cutty Sark's hull; with a cleaner hull, she could sail faster.

The basic conclusion is that ships over 100m were very unsafe and prone to fall apart in rough seas.
Ships up to about the 60m mark were much more stable in rough seas and leaked less water than larger wooden boats, which often would need steam pumps to keep them sinking due to the leaks arising from the flexing and movement of timbers on the boat.

Goo: Goo the Numbat. Noah’s boat was supposedly 133m long.

Erasmus: Erasmus. Not So !

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. . The most obvious problem is that Noah’s ship is substantially larger than almost any wooden ship built on the planet throughout history.

Almost all ships of that size were not structurally sound due to the flexing of the wood members causing significant leaking. Many ships of this size sank either immediately after launch or soon thereafter. And many ships of the size were never intended to leave their berths or even able to leave their berths. Many large more modern ships built of wood included substantial steel components.

In short, wood is not a realistic building material for vessels of this size. It does not have the structural integrity or strength to enable such construction.

Goo: Goo the Numbat. So you are saying that you believe that the Bible is in error.

Erasmus: Erasmus. No. I think the issues are slightly different. What we believe to be a cubit and what our ancestors of history believed to be a cubit are two separate issues.

The clue comes in one note in history describing one of the mighty men of old, (and as the Bible says they were mighty men those men of old). This was the Canaanite King : Og the king of Bashan who was reputed to have a bed of nine cubits. The classical cubit measurements would suggest that the good king OG would have been almost 4 m tall.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. I visited Captain Cook’s cottage in Melbourne once. Captain Cook was one of those mighty men of history. But when you visited his cottage you suddenly realised he was actually only a little bloke. His bed was tiny. The issue is that poor nutrition throughout history has made humans relatively short. It is only in the modern era with an improvement of protein intake and diet that people have begun to increase their height.

So I would say that if the good king OG was actually 2 m in height he would be a giant compared to many of his compatriots who would only possibly attain the a maximum of 1.6 m (5 ½ feet), as a good average height for a male.
So if we take this figure of 2 m suggesting nine cubits, we get a length for a cubit of 222 mm or 22.2 cm.

Og's Bed



Erasmus: Erasmus. Now here is where it gets really interesting. If we think those men of old – the angels were representatives of high-level technological civilisation, you would expect that their measurement of a cubit reflects some real truth or incontestable fact relating to the universe. A measurement that reflects science and would give an unchallengeable measurement to anybody anywhere even vaguely familiar with the concept of a cubit.

At one stage I considered a pendulum but for a while I was stumped.

Genius Google gave the answer. What measurement of about 20 cm reflects some universal constant which could be known to anybody universally. The answer is the hydrogen line of  21.106114054160 centimetres. This is the wavelength of light emitted when an electron drops from spin up to spin down states within the hydrogen atom under the influence of a magnetic field.

Unfortunately 21 cm is just a little bit too short to be comfortable measure. Something about twice as long would be much more easy to use simply due to its “useful size”. But a technical civilisation would suggest that a cubit should be 21.106114054160 centimetres.

Now this gives the dimensions of the biblical ark of 63 m x 10.5 m x 6.3 m tall. The dimensions here suggest that the Ark would be approximately two tall trees long and about half a tall tree wide.

(Many ancient trees are taller than we realise. In a visit to Port Arthur Prison Settlement in Tasmania / Australia, staff there reported that the early inhabitants had to deal with eucalypt trees routinely 60m- 100m tall. The 30m Eucalypts we were seeing were babies - only recently planted).


Erasmus: Erasmus. Back to the Ark. The height of 6 m would include a roofing layer over the deck, making the two lower decks about 2 m each. And as we have seen 2 m is a huge height for the big people of small height who lived in the biblical era.
Plus the Bible says: in a cubit shalt thou finish the top of it.
This is far more realistic if you consider a roof of 20cm thickness rather than 40 cm.

Kinkajou:Kinkajou. So what could the Deluge be?
Erasmus: Erasmus. I believe something did in fact happen. I believe there was a flood. I believe there was incredible rain in association with storm clouds, wind and possibly even substantial title events. The other clue to the nature of the biblical deluge lies in the notes of the father of Noah – namely Enoch. (Book of Enoch). The Enochians were a substantial biblical interest group who suffered a considerable loss of their ability to influence history when their priests were killed by the Romans at Masada and in other revolts at the time.

The Fortess of Masada The Fortress of Masada
Kinkajou:Kinkajou. What happened at the fortress of Masada?
Erasmus: Erasmus. Every schoolchild in Israel knows the story of how Jewish heroes revolted against the pagan Romans, holed up in the desert fortress of Masada – and opted for mass suicide, killing themselves and their families, over capture and humiliation by Emperor Vespasian's forces.