* Great Jewish Revolt 66-70 AD

Great Jewish Revolt (66-70 AD)

Figure 1.--Judean rebels following the Jerusalem riots (66 AD) seized comtol of the city and established a provisional government. the Siege of Jerusalem was the decisive event of the First Jewish–Roman War (70). The Roman army commanded by the Eperor Titus besieged the city for 4 months. The Temple Moiunt where the Temple was located was the site of almost uninterrupted temple service (c516 BC - 70 AD). The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus. The Romans then entered and sacked the Lower City. T he Arch of Titus, celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome. This is the most famous depiction of the Roman victory. It was painted by the Italian Francesco Hayez. He is widely considered one of the leading artists of Romanticism in mid-19th-century Romantuicism. He is renowned for his epic historical paintings. He also did political allegories and portraits.

When Rome seized Egypt, Roman power and influence grew throughout the Levant, including Palesine. At about the same time, a new group of devout Jews appeared--the Zealots. They were oposed to foreign rule, at the time meaning Roman rule. Their central commitment was that the Jews had to achieve political and religious liberty. And they were willing to challege Rome. The Jews were apauled during the reign of Emperor Caligula, who declared himself to be a god and and ordered his statue to be set up at every religious building rhroughout the Empire (39 AD). This included Jewish temples. Religious leaders throughout the Empire complied--except the Jews. Caligula was outraged and threatened to destroy the Temple. The Jews sent a delegation to Rome in an effort to pacify him. Their mission was a failure. Caligula in a rage virtually condened them, "So you are the enemies of the gods, the only people who refuse to recognize my divinity." It is unclear what Caligula planned for the Jewish people, but it is wudek=ly believed that the ordered the destruction of both the templec and thecJewish people themselves. disaster was overted when the palace guard murdered the emperor (41). The experience with Caligula, however, radicalized the Jewish people. Many Jews saw Caligula's policies as what they could expect from the Romans. The Zealots claimed that it was God who had smitten Caligula ad he would assist them if they confronted the Roman Legions. The Romans made no real effort to deal with any sesitivity wih the Jews. The Romans occupied Palestine (63 AD). Rome ruled Judea through a procurator. His principal function was to collect taxes and he was assigned a quota. The way the system worked was that any amount he collected over the quota was his to keep. As a result, Roman taxes soon became onerous approaching confiscatory levels. Perhaps even more disturbing to devout Jews was that Rome began appointing the High Priest. This meant that the high priests who were the Jews representatives to God became if not tools of the Roman authorities, individuals prone to colaboration. The Jews experienced a series of what the saw as outrages aimed at their God. Roman soldiers reportedly exposed themselves in the Temple and in another occasion burned a sacred torah scroll. Thus tensions mounted as a result of financial exploitation, religious insensitivity, and favorism shown to non-Jews. The flash point came with the Roman procurator removed large quantities of silver from the Temple (66). Outraged mobs in Jerusalm attacked and killed the small Roman garison in Jerusalem. Cestius Gallus, the Roman ruler in nearby Syria dispated a more sizeable force, but Jewish rebels defeated them. The early victories over relatively small Roman forces embolded the Jews. Large numbers of new recruits joined the Zealots. The Romans dispatched a massive force of 60,000 battle hardened Legionaires. The Jews had no professinal army to meet a force of that nature. The initial Roman action came in the north, te Galilee where the Zealots were the strongest (68 AD). The Romans had no trouble in quickly defeating the Zealot forces. Reports suggest the Romans killed or took as slaves 100,000 Jews. Authorities in Jerusalem made no effort to assist the Jewish forces in the Galilee. It is unclear why. One historian believes it was because they knew the Revolt was doomed. [Zeitlin] The Zealots who survived the Roman onslaught in the Galilee fled to Jerusalem. There they attacked leaders not willing to resist the Romans. This result in a Jewish civil war at the same time the Romans were moving to besige the city. There was a large stock pile of food in Jerusalem, but inexplicably the Zealots burned it, thinking that this would make the population fight the Romans with more intensity. The result was that after the Romans besiged the city there was soon large-scale starvation. Some important leaders had opposed the Revolt, most prominate was Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. He was targeted by the Zealots, but managed to escape, He surrendered to the Roman general Vespasian who promised that he would permit Jewish communal life to continue. The Romans under Titus, the son of Vespasian who had become emperor, finally breached the walls of Jerusalem (summer 70). He put the city to the sword and destroyed the Second Temple. Among the horrors, 6,000 women and children found hiding in a treasury chamber were burned. There are no precise numbers, but the Romans may have killed as many as 1 million Jews and enslaved many who were not killed. [Josepheus] The failure of the Revolt eded the last vestages of a Jewish state. The Jewish Disapora is generally dated from the failure of the Revolt and the destruction of the Second Temple. Jerusalem ws essentilly left to the jackekls. Zealots held out for some time. The last major engagement was the fall of Masada (73 AD). Another disterous revolt came 60 years later--the Bar Kokhba revolt (132 AD)


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Created: 10:49 PM 9/26/2020
Last updated: 10:49 PM 9/26/2020