131 AD

- מ י ה -

A New Rebellion Breaks Out in Judea

131 AD

The Bar Kokhba revolt erupts around 60 years after the First Jewish-Roman War. A new generation of Jews has emerged – who did not experience their country’s traumatizing devastation just a few decades earlier. The Sadducee leadership, primarily made up of priests and members of the elite, virtually disappeared following the destruction of the Temple; and the Pharisees, scholars who dedicate their lives to the study of Oral Law and are popular amongst the masses, have taken over as the prevailing school of thought. A series of domestic, economic, and military interests have translated into a Roman policy of Hellenization in the provinces – that in many cases contradict Jewish law. As part of this agenda, Emperor Hadrian decides to establish a new pagan city on the ruins of Jerusalem, which he names Aelia Capitolina. He moreover bans circumcision on the grounds that it is a form of mutilation and therefore goes against Hellenist culture, which greatly reveres the human body. For some time, Hadrian promises the Jews that he will rebuild their Temple; however, he never follows through.

A number of subversive groups begin forming in Judea. Though they are separate from each other, they are all against Roman rule and moreover unite around a single leader. Their unified front generates tremendous energy and spiritual harmony. Bar Kokhba succeeds in uniting the divided people in the face of a powerful enemy. In doing so, it becomes possible for them to initiate a rebellion against the harsh decrees threatening to eliminate their spurned independence.

“At Jerusalem he founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of the god he raised a new temple to Jupiter. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, 2 for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there. So long, indeed, as Hadrian was close by in Egypt and again in Syria, they remained quiet, save in so far as they purposely made of poor quality such weapons as they were called upon to furnish, in order that the Romans might reject them and they themselves might thus have the use of them; but when he went farther away, they openly revolted” (Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 69 , 12 sections 1-2)

Oneness is the guiding principle of our existence; unity is the source, as well as the goal.