The first stage of the Bar Kokhba revolt is characterized by the Jews engaging in guerrilla warfare – and in doing so, guaranteeing that they will have the upper hand in battle. The auxiliary armies remaining in the country are routed out and reinforcements coming from neighboring countries are repelled. The Jewish fighters avoid attacking out in open fields; instead, they resort to ambushes and surprise attacks, made possible thanks to their intimate knowledge of the area. The many caves scattered across the Judean foothills and surroundings of Tiberias serve as optimal hiding places for both defense and attack. Due to the chaotic situation in Judea, the Roman proconsul Tineius Rufus is dismissed. The revolt receives support from Jewish communities abroad and many local non-Jews also join the cause as mercenaries.
Bar Kokhba employs clever tricks, sophisticated tactics, and an element of surprise to effectively utilize his familiarity with the terrain and overwhelm his mighty enemy. He turns dark tunnels into positive opportunities and sources of blessing. Out of the darkness of Roman rule, Bar Kokhba shines – amplifying the light on the path to freedom.
“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. 3 To be sure, they did not dare try conclusions with the Romans in the open field, but they occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, in order that they might have places of refuge whenever they should be hard pressed, and might meet together unobserved under ground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light” (Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book 69, 12 sections 2-3)
Agility is responding to enlightenment with effective action.