Interviews with Professor Yigael Yadin

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The interviews of Yigael Yadin, below, are taken from source material prepared for the Documentary Film:
Life from the Dead Sea, directed by Yigal Tzadok, 1982

Professor Yadin (1917-1984), was one of the leading archaeologists involved in the research and excavations of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Masada, the Bar Kochba Caves and other sites in Israel.

His father, Professor Eleazer Sukenik, was also a noted archaeologist and the head of the archaeological department of the Hebrew University.

Professor Yadin , who was the second  to hold the position of Head of Staff of the Israeli army, returned to archaeology after his army service and, in 1956, received the ‘Israel prize’ for Jewish studies for his translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In addition to his academic achievements, Professor Yadin entered politics in 1976 and served as the Deputy Prime Minister, playing a role in the process that led to the negotiations and peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

Video and Text of Interview on Dead Sea Scrolls:

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Full video of interview with the late Professor Yigael Yadin taken on site by the Dead Sea.

In this video Professor Yadin describes the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, found in the caves of Qumran (Kumran).

He explains the significance of the scrolls to Judaism and early Christianity.

“Here in the caves of Qumran, the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea, was made one of the most important discoveries, ever made for the understanding of the bible, the history of Judaism and Christianity.”

“Because it was here, that the Dead Sea Scrolls were found – the library of the famous Essenes, one of the three Jewish sects in the time of Christ: the Pharisees, Sadducees, and the Essenes.”

“We knew a little bit about the Essenes from the writings of Josephus and Pliny. Pliny in fact said that the Essenes lived near the shores of the Dead Sea. But it was only when the Dead Sea scrolls were found here and we began to read what they believed, we understood why, actually, they influenced also Christianity in the beginning.”

“They lived here as a closed community. They shared all their goods. They were waiting for the end of days, for the coming of the two Messiahs – as they believed, the Messiah of Israel (…) and the Messiah of Aaron. We know, today, that John the Baptist roamed about and may have been a member of the Essenes, and through him and other means, they influenced also Christianity.”

“This great discovery, like many others, actually was made by chance, not by an archeologist. A sheppard was roaming about here and a stray goat went into the cave. He went after the goat and he saw jars. He threw a stone. He thought maybe there was some gold in these jars, and then he found what he called “some stinking bundles of leather” which turned out to be the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

“Some of them were smuggled into the United States. I had the honor eventually to purchase them and bring them to Jerusalem. And together with the first three, which my late father identified, all these scrolls are now shown in the “Shrine of the Book” in Jerusalem.”

Video and Text of Interview with Prof. Yigael Yadin on Masada:

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In this video Professor Yadin talks about the fall of Masada and the ‘Masada Complex’.

The following section provides a text version of this interview with the late Professor Yigael Yadin(1982).

“Three years after the fall of Jerusalem, and the Temple, when an Arch of Triumph was erected in Rome to commemorate the great victory of the Romans over Judea, yet 960 men, women and children zealots were holding that cliff of Masada against the whole might of the Roman Empire. They wanted to be free men. But when the inevitable end came, they decided to take their lives in their own hands.”

“This amazing story was recorded brilliantly by the historian – Jewish historian – Josephus Flavius, and to this day it is a place of pilgrims. I had the honor and privilege to excavate the site completely, and in fact all the discoveries which we made, proved that the story of Josephus Flavius was correct.”

“It is a most important place archaeologically, because everything is absolutely dated. But for us, for Jews, Israelis living today in Israel, it has a much more – another significance, not only an archaeological. It is a challenge, it is the reminder also, it is for this reason that the armored core of the Israeli army are taking the oath of allegiance to the State of Israel on the top of Masada, saying Masada shall not fall again. This is the so-called ‘Masada Complex’ that we have. We want to live free people.”

Video and Text of Interview with Prof. Yigael Yadin on Bar Kochba:

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In this video Professor Yadin talks about the Bar Kochba revolt against the Roman legions, after the destruction of the second Temple.

The following section provides a text version of this interview with the late Professor Yigael Yadin.

“Sixty years after the fall of Masada, when the Romans thought that this was the real end of Judea, a new revolt broke out and at the head of it was a mysterious man who actually was called the ‘son of the star’, Bar Kochba, or for those who opposed him, called the false man – the son the false man.”

“He was considered to be a sort of a messiah. He was successful for three and a half years. He conquered most probably Jerusalem. He struck coins with the inscription for the freedom of Zion – and Jerusalem. But at the end, of course, the Romans brought Julius Severus, the most competent commander from Britain, and slowly but surely he decimated his [Bar Kochba’s] forces.”

“Bar Kochba himself, went to Betar, a fortress near Jerusalem, while his troops dispersed all over the country. Some of them took refuge here, in Ein Gedi, far from the {?madding crowd? /-meddling crown-? }, and in the caves nearby.”

“We were fortunate in 1961, in remote cliffs near Ein Gedi in a cave, to find the remnants of the refugees of the last fighters of Bar Kochba. And to our great surprise, we found there 15 dispatches, 15 letters, written on papyrus, sent by this semi-legendary man, Bar Kochba, to the commanders of Ein Gedi. Of course this was at the end. He was asking them to send him supplies; and being a Jewish commander, also before the feast of Sukkoth – the feast of Tabernacles, he asked them also to send palm branches and citrons from Ein Gedi.”

“This was the most amazing discovery. It was all hidden in a cave. Eventually the Romans came, and besieged the cave. The people died. We found their skeletons. But nevertheless the legend of Bar Kochba lives still to this very day.”

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