135 AD

- ל ל ה -

After the Second Fall of Judea, a New Jewish Spiritual Center Emerges in the Galilee

135 AD

The Romans use a scorched-earth tactic to suppress the revolt in Judea, razing every population center to the ground and killing its inhabitants. Hundreds of villages are eradicated in this manner. Judea is now virtually desolate of Jews and villages. Most of the rebels have been killed. Those who survived have been sold as slaves and Jews are no longer allowed to visit Jerusalem, or even see it from afar. The whole province is renamed Syria Palaestina. From this point on, the term “Palestine” becomes synonymous with the Land of Israel. Following the war, Hadrian issues a series of religious decrees banning the study of Torah and the performance of its precepts – and upon the rubbles of Jerusalem finally erects the new pagan city of Aelia Capitolina, whose construction had been delayed due to the revolt.

Despite the many decrees, Jews secretly continue to practice their religion. Over time, the return to Jerusalem (and the Land of Israel, in general) evolves into a yearning for the Messianic era – which will be brought by God and not through military means. In the following decades, Jewish centers across the Galilee gradually emerge and thrive, including Usha, Shfar’am, Beit She’arim, Sepphoris, and Tiberias – and this region becomes the birthplace of the Mishnah, the Talmud, and Kabbalah. Since Aramaic is the predominant language spoken in the Galilee, Hebrew (the language mainly spoken in Judea) slowly ceases to be a living language.

The results of the rebellion are severe and absolute. The Jews have been defeated and Judea’s settlements and population physically destroyed. A small handful of survivors move to the Galilee, where they must draw upon significant spiritual and mental strength for the survival and restoration of their faith. 

“Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. 2 Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities” (Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 69, 13 sections 3)

Mental strengths are the inner resources providing us with the strength necessary to face obstacles and challenges.