TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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The Ancient World

ca. 2500 B.C. - 900 A.D.
 

 
 


Judea and Arabia before the Romans
 


CA.1100 B.C.-136 A.D.
 

 


Herod the Great and His Successors
 


Herod the Great conclusively did away with the rule of the Maccabees and allied himself with Rome. Following rebellions by the Jews, Judea was completely integrated into the Roman Empire.
 

7 Herod the Great was from a family that was loyal to the Romans; his father Antipater had been appointed procurator over Judea by Julius Caesar.

Herod eliminated the last of the Maccabees and assumed the throne in 37 B.C. Although he married the Maccabean princess Mariamne, his rule was secularly oriented, following the Roman model.

Herod suppressed the religious agitators in the land, as well as intrigues in his palace, and was thus able to maintain peace. Under him Judea's economy blossomed, as evidenced not least by his monumental construction projects.


7 The taking of Jerusalem by Herod the Great, 36 BC, by Jean Fouquet.

 

He had the 10 temple erected anew, yet his attempts to culturally unify the Jews ultimately failed.


10 Temple in Jerusalem

 

The birth of Jesus Christ falls within his reign, but the 11 murder of innocent children of which he was accused is probably a Christian myth.

 

Upon his death in 4 B.C., Herod's kingdom was divided among his three sons, the Tetrarchs.

One of them, Herod Antipas (ruled 4 в.с-39 a.d.), who received Galilee and Peraea, is known to this day for his marriage to his niece and sister-in-law Herodias and the dance of his stepdaughter, 9 Salome, performed for the head of John the Baptist.

 
 

Herod the Great

Herod, byname Herod the Great, Latin Herodes Magnus (born 73 bc—died March/April, 4 bc, Jericho, Judaea), Roman-appointed king of Judaea (37–4 bc), who built many fortresses, aqueducts, theatres, and other public buildings and generally raised the prosperity of his land but who was the centre of political and family intrigues in his later years. The New Testament portrays him as a tyrant, into whose kingdom Jesus of Nazareth was born.

Herod was born in southern Palestine; his father, Antipater, was an Edomite (an Arab from the region between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba). Antipater was a man of great influence and wealth, who increased both by marrying the daughter of a noble from Petra (in southwestern Jordan), at that time the capital of the rising Nabataean kingdom. Thus Herod was, although a practicing Jew, of Arab origin on both sides.

When Pompey (106–48 bc) invaded Palestine in 63 bc, Antipater supported his campaign and began a long association with Rome, from which both he and Herod were to benefit. Six years later Herod met Mark Antony, whose lifelong friend he was to remain. Julius Caesar also favoured the family; he appointed Antipater procurator of Judaea in 47 bc and conferred on him Roman citizenship, an honour that descended to Herod and his children. Herod made his political debut in the same year, when his father appointed him governor of Galilee. Six years later Mark Antony made him tetrarch of Galilee. In 40 bc the Parthians invaded Palestine, civil war broke out, and Herod was forced to flee to Rome. The senate there nominated him king of Judaea and equipped him with an army to make good his claim. In the year 37 bc, at the age of 36, Herod became unchallenged ruler of Judaea, a position he was to maintain for 32 years. To further solidify his power, he divorced his first wife, Doris, sent her and his son away from court, and married Mariamne, a Hasmonean princess. Although the union was directed at ending his feud with the Hasmoneans, a priestly family of Jewish leaders, he was deeply in love with Mariamne.

During the conflict between the two triumvirs Octavian and Antony, the heirs to Caesar’s power, Herod supported his friend Antony. He continued to do so even when Antony’s mistress, Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, used her influence with Antony to gain much of Herod’s best land. After Antony’s final defeat at Actium in 31 bc, he frankly confessed to the victorious Octavian which side he had taken. Octavian, who had met Herod in Rome, knew that he was the one man to rule Palestine as Rome wanted it ruled and confirmed him king. He also restored to Herod the land Cleopatra had taken. Herod became the close friend of Augustus’ great minister Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, after whom one of his grandsons and one of his great-grandsons were named. Both the emperor and the minister paid him state visits, and Herod twice again visited Italy. Augustus gave him the oversight of the Cyprus copper mines, with a half share in the profits. He twice increased Herod’s territory, in the years 22 and 20 bc, so that it came to include not only Palestine but parts of what are now the kingdom of Jordan to the east of the river and southern Lebanon and Syria. He had intended to bestow the Nabataean kingdom on Herod as well, but, by the time that throne fell vacant, Herod’s mental and physical deterioration made it impossible.

Herod endowed his realm with massive fortresses and splendid cities, of which the two greatest were new, and largely pagan, foundations: the port of Caesarea Palaestinae on the coast between Joppa (Jaffa) and Haifa, which was afterward to become the capital of Roman Palestine; and Sebaste on the long-desolate site of ancient Samaria. At Herodium in the Judaean desert Herod built a great palace, which archaeologists in 2007 tentatively identified as the site of his tomb. In Jerusalem he built the fortress of Antonia, portions of which may still be seen beneath the convents on the Via Dolorosa, and a magnificent palace (of which part survives in the citadel). His most grandiose creation was the Temple, which he wholly rebuilt. The great outer court, 35 acres (14 hectares) in extent, is still visible as Al-Ḥaram ash-Sharīf. He also embellished foreign cities—Beirut, Damascus, Antioch, Rhodes—and many towns. Herod patronized the Olympic Games, whose president he became. In his own kingdom he could not give full rein to his love of magnificence, for fear of offending the Pharisees, the leading faction of Judaism, with whom he was always in conflict because they regarded him as a foreigner. Herod undoubtedly saw himself not merely as the patron of grateful pagans but also as the protector of Jewry outside of Palestine, whose Gentile hosts he did all in his power to conciliate.

Unfortunately, there was a dark and cruel streak in Herod’s character that showed itself increasingly as he grew older. His mental instability, moreover, was fed by the intrigue and deception that went on within his own family. Despite his affection for Mariamne, he was prone to violent attacks of jealousy; his sister Salome (not to be confused with her great-niece, Herodias’ daughter Salome) made good use of his natural suspicions and poisoned his mind against his wife in order to wreck the union. In the end Herod murdered Mariamne, her two sons, her brother, her grandfather, and her mother, a woman of the vilest stamp who had often aided his sister Salome’s schemes. Besides Doris and Mariamne, Herod had eight other wives and had children by six of them. He had 14 children.

In his last years Herod suffered from arteriosclerosis. He had to repress a revolt, became involved in a quarrel with his Nabataean neighbours, and finally lost the favour of Augustus. He was in great pain and in mental and physical disorder. He altered his will three times and finally disinherited and killed his firstborn, Antipater. The slaying, shortly before his death, of the infants of Bethlehem was wholly consistent with the disarray into which he had fallen. After an unsuccessful attempt at suicide, Herod died. His final testament provided that, subject to Augustus’ sanction, his realm would be divided among his sons: Archelaus should be king of Judaea and Samaria, with Philip and Antipas sharing the remainder as tetrarchs.

Stewart Henry Perowne

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 
 
 

 
 


12 Destruction of the temple of Jerusalem
by the Romans under Titus, 70A.D.

His nephew, Herod Agrippa I, ruled once more over the reunited realm of Herod the Great with great support of Judaism and as a friend of the Romans from 41 to 44.

In 66 a.d., Jewish religious zealots initiated a revolt against Roman rule. The king, Agrippa II, who while of Jewish faith had been raised in Rome, sided with the Romans against the zealots.

The revolt led the Roman emperor Titus to seize control of Jerusalem and to order the 12 destruction of the temple in 70 a.d.

 
 
 

Herod Agrippa I

Herod Agrippa I, original name Marcus Julius Agrippa (born c. 10 bc—died ad 44), king of Judaea (ad 41–44), a clever diplomat who through his friendship with the Roman imperial family obtained the kingdom of his grandfather, Herod I the Great. He displayed great acumen in conciliating the Romans and Jews.

When Antipater, the son of Herod and the father of Agrippa, was executed by the suspicious Herod, Agrippa was sent to Rome for education and safety. There he grew up in company with the emperor Tiberius’s son Drusus. After his mother’s death he quickly spent his family’s wealth and acquired serious debts. When Drusus died in ad 23, Agrippa left Rome, settling near Beersheba, in Palestine. An appeal to his uncle Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee, won him a minor official post but he soon vacated it.

In 36, having raised a sizable loan in Alexandria, Agrippa returned to Rome, where the emperor Tiberius received him but refused to allow him to stay at the court until his debt was paid. A new loan covered the obligation, and he secured a post as tutor to Tiberius’s grandson. Agrippa also became a friend of Caligula, Tiberius’s heir. An intemperate remark about Tiberius, overheard by a servant, landed Agrippa in prison, but Caligula remained his friend. Within a year Tiberius was dead, and Agrippa’s fortunes were reversed.

In 37 Caligula made him king of the former realm of his uncle Philip the Tetrarch and of an adjoining region. Antipas attempted to stop his rise by denouncing him to Caligula; Agrippa made counteraccusations. The confrontation before Caligula ended with Antipas’s banishment, and Agrippa acquired his territory as well. About 41, Agrippa, on the advice of the governor of Syria, dissuaded Caligula from introducing emperor worship at Jerusalem. Later, Caligula decided to restore Agrippa to his grandfather’s throne but was assassinated before he could effect this plan (41). In the delicate question of the imperial succession, Agrippa supported Claudius, who emerged successful and added Judaea and Samaria to Agrippa’s kingdom.

In Judaea, Agrippa zealously pursued orthodox Jewish policies, earning the friendship of the Jews and vigorously repressing the Jewish Christians. According to the New Testament of the Bible (Acts of the Apostles, where he is called Herod), he imprisoned Peter the Apostle and executed James, son of Zebedee. Nonetheless, mindful of maintaining Roman friendship, he contributed public buildings to Beirut in Lebanon, struck coins in emulation of Rome, and in the spring of 44 was host at a spectacular series of games at Caesarea to honour Claudius. There he died, prematurely terminating the compromise he had striven to achieve between Roman authority and Jewish autonomy. Because his son was only 17 years old, Judaea once more returned to provincial status.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 

 

 

Titus

Titus, in full Titus Vespasianus Augustus, original name Titus Flavius Vespasianus (born Dec. 30, 39 ce—died Sept. 13, 81 ce), Roman emperor (79–81), and the conqueror of Jerusalem in 70.

After service in Britain and Germany, Titus commanded a legion under his father, Vespasian, in Judaea (67). Following the emperor Nero’s death in June 68, Titus was energetic in promoting his father’s candidacy for the imperial crown. Licinius Mucianus, legate of Syria, whom he reconciled with Vespasian, considered that one of Vespasian’s greatest assets was to have so promising a son and heir. Immediately on being proclaimed emperor in 69, Vespasian gave Titus charge of the Jewish war, and a large-scale campaign in 70 culminated in the capture and destruction of Jerusalem in September. (The Arch of Titus [81], still standing at the entrance to the Roman Forum, commemorated his victory.)

The victorious troops in Palestine urged Titus to take them with him to Italy; it was suspected that they acted on his prompting and that he was considering some sort of challenge to his father. But eventually he returned alone in summer 71, triumphed jointly with Vespasian, and was made commander of the Praetorian Guard. He also received tribunician power and was his father’s colleague in the censorship of 73 and in several consulships. Although Vespasian had in various ways avoided making Titus his own equal, the son became the military arm of the new principate and is described by Suetonius as particeps atque etiam tutor imperii (“sharer and even protector of the empire”). As such he incurred unpopularity, worsened by his relations with Berenice (sister of the Syrian Herod Agrippa II), who lived with him for a time in the palace and hoped to become his wife. But the Romans had memories of Cleopatra, and marriage to an Eastern queen was repugnant to public opinion. Twice he reluctantly had to dismiss her, the second time just after Vespasian’s death.

In 79 Titus suppressed a conspiracy, doubtless concerned with the succession, but, when Vespasian died on June 23, he succeeded promptly and peacefully. His relations with his brother Domitian were bad, but in other ways his short rule was unexpectedly popular in Rome. He was outstandingly good-looking, cultivated, and affable; Suetonius called him “the darling of the human race.” His success was won largely by lavish expenditure, some of it purely personal largesse but some public bounty, like the assistance to Campania after Vesuvius erupted in 79 and the rebuilding of Rome after the fire in 80. He completed construction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, better known as the Colosseum, and opened it with ceremonies lasting more than 100 days. His sudden death at age 41 was supposedly hastened by Domitian, who became his successor as emperor.

Titus married twice, but his first wife died, and he divorced the second soon after the birth (c. 65) of his only child, a daughter, Flavia Julia, to whom he accorded the title Augusta. She married her cousin Flavius Sabinus, but after his death in 84 she lived openly as mistress of her uncle Domitian.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 


Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem by Francesco Hayez, 1867.
Depicting the destruction and looting of the Second Temple by the Roman army.

 


Titus' triumph after the First Jewish-Roman War was celebrated with the Arch of Titus in Rome,
which shows the treasures taken from the Temple in Jerusalem, including the Menorah.

 
The last stronghold of the Jewish zealots, 8 Masada, fell in 73 a.d. after the suicide of all the defenders.

Judea was made a Roman province with limited autonomy. But even that was permanently lost after the revolt of Bar Kokhba in 132-135, led by the Jewish military commander Simon Bar Kokhba, establishing the independent state of Israel. The Jewish people were then driven out of Judea by the Romans three years later into the Diaspora.
 


8 The ruins of Masada, in the background the Dead Sea
 


Masada


 

 

 

Flavius Josephus

Flavius Josephus, original name Joseph Ben Matthias (born ad 37/38, Jerusalem—died ad 100, Rome), Jewish priest, scholar, and historian who wrote valuable works on the Jewish revolt of 66–70 and on earlier Jewish history. His major books are History of the Jewish War (75–79), The Antiquities of the Jews (93), and Against Apion.


Early life.
Flavius Josephus was born of an aristocratic priestly family in Jerusalem. According to his own account, he was a precocious youth who by the age of 14 was consulted by high priests in matters of Jewish law. At age 16 he undertook a three-year sojourn in the wilderness with the hermit Bannus, a member of one of the ascetic Jewish sects that flourished in Judaea around the time of Christ.

Returning to Jerusalem, he joined the Pharisees—a fact of crucial importance in understanding his later collaboration with the Romans. The Pharisees, despite the unflattering portrayal of them in the New Testament, were for the most part intensely religious Jews and adhered to a strict though nonliteral observance of the Torah. Politically, however, the Pharisees had no sympathy with the intense Jewish nationalism of such sects as the military patriotic Zealots and were willing to submit to Roman rule if only the Jews could maintain their religious independence.

In ad 64 Josephus was sent on an embassy to Rome to secure the release of a number of Jewish priests of his acquaintance who were held prisoners in the capital. There, he was introduced to Poppaea Sabina, Emperor Nero’s second wife, whose generous favour enabled him to complete his mission successfully. During his visit, Josephus was deeply impressed with Rome’s culture and sophistication—and especially its military might.


Military career.
He returned to Jerusalem on the eve of a general revolt against Roman rule. In ad 66 the Jews of Judaea, urged on by the fanatical Zealots, ousted the Roman procurator and set up a revolutionary government in Jerusalem. Along with many others of the priestly class, Josephus counselled compromise but was drawn reluctantly into the rebellion. Despite his moderate stance, he was appointed military commander of Galilee, where (if his own untrustworthy account may be believed) he was obstructed in his efforts at conciliation by the enmity of the local partisans led by John of Giscala. Though realizing the futility of armed resistance, he nevertheless set about fortifying the towns of the north against the forthcoming Roman juggernaut.

The Romans, under the command of the future emperor Vespasian, arrived in Galilee in the spring of ad 67 and quickly broke the Jewish resistance in the north. Josephus managed to hold the fortress of Jotapata for 47 days, but after the fall of the city he took refuge with 40 diehards in a nearby cave. There, to Josephus’ consternation, the beleaguered party voted to perish rather than surrender. Josephus, arguing the immorality of suicide, proposed that each man, in turn, should dispatch his neighbour, the order to be determined by casting lots. Josephus contrived to draw the last lot, and, as one of the two surviving men in the cave, he prevailed upon his intended victim to surrender to the Romans.

Led in chains before Vespasian, Josephus assumed the role of a prophet and foretold that Vespasian would soon be emperor—a prediction that gained in credibility after the death of Nero in ad 68. The stratagem saved his life, and for the next two years he remained a prisoner in the Roman camp. Late in ad 69 Vespasian was proclaimed emperor by his troops: Josephus’ prophecy had come true, and the agreeable Jewish prisoner was given his freedom. From that time on, Josephus attached himself to the Roman cause. He adopted the name Flavius (Vespasian’s family name), accompanied his patron to Alexandria, and there married for the third time. (Josephus’ first wife had been lost at the siege of Jotapata, and his second had deserted him in Judaea.) Josephus later joined the Roman forces under the command of Vespasian’s son and later successor, Titus, at the siege of Jerusalem in ad 70. He attempted to act as mediator between the Romans and the rebels, but, hated by the Jews for his apostasy and distrusted by the Romans as a Jew, he was able to accomplish little. Following the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, Josephus took up residence in Rome, where he devoted the remainder of his life to literary pursuits under imperial patronage.


Josephus as historian.
Josephus’ first work, Bellum Judaicum (History of the Jewish War), was written in seven books between ad 75 and 79, toward the end of Vespasian’s reign. The original Aramaic has been lost, but the extant Greek version was prepared under Josephus’ personal direction. After briefly sketching Jewish history from the mid-2nd century bc, Josephus presents a detailed account of the great revolt of ad 66–70. He stressed the invincibility of the Roman legions, and apparently one of his purposes in the works was to convince the Diasporan Jews in Mesopotamia, who may have been contemplating revolt, that resistance to Roman arms was pure folly. The work has much narrative brilliance, particularly the description of the siege of Jerusalem; its fluent Greek contrasts sharply with the clumsier idiom of Josephus’ later works and attests the influence of his Greek assistants. In this work, Josephus is extremely hostile to the Jewish patriots and remarkably callous to their fate. The Jewish War not only is the principal source for the Jewish revolt but is especially valuable for its description of Roman military tactics and strategy.

In Rome, Josephus had been granted citizenship and a pension. He was a favourite at the courts of the emperors Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian, and he enjoyed the income from a tax-free estate in Judaea. He had divorced his third wife, married an aristocratic heiress from Crete, and given Roman names to his children. He had written an official history of the revolt and was loathed by the Jews as a turncoat and traitor. Yet despite all of this, Josephus had by no means abandoned his Judaism. His greatest work, Antiquitates Judaicae (The Antiquities of the Jews), completed in 20 books in ad 93, traces the history of the Jews from creation to just before the outbreak of the revolt of ad 66–70. It was an attempt to present Judaism to the Hellenistic world in a favourable light. By virtually ignoring the Prophets, by embellishing biblical narratives, and by stressing the rationality of Judaic laws and institutions, he stripped Judaism of its fanaticism and made it appealing to the cultivated and reasonable man. Historically, the coverage is patchy and shows the fatigue of the author, then in his middle 50s. But throughout, sources are preserved that otherwise would have been lost, and, for Jewish history during the period of the Second Commonwealth, the work is invaluable.

The Antiquities contains two famous references to Jesus Christ: the one in Book XX calls him the “so-called Christ.” The implication in the passage in Book XVIII of Christ’s divinity could not have come from Josephus and undoubtedly represents the tampering (if not invention) of a later Christian copyist.

Appended to the Antiquities was a Vita (Life), which is less an autobiography than an apology for Josephus’ conduct in Galilee during the revolt. It was written to defend himself against the charges of his enemy Justus of Tiberias, who claimed that Josephus was responsible for the revolt. In his defense, he contradicted the account given in his more trustworthy Jewish War, presenting himself as a consistent partisan of Rome and thus a traitor to the rebellion from the start. Josephus appears in a much better light in a work generally known as Contra Apionem (Against Apion, though the earlier titles Concerning the Antiquity of the Jews and Against the Greeks are more apposite). Of its two books, the first answers various anti-Semitic charges leveled at the Jews by Hellenistic writers, while the second provides an argument for the ethical superiority of Judaism over Hellenism and shows Josephus’ commitment to his religion and his culture.

Since Against Apion mentions the death of Agrippa II, it is probable that Josephus lived into the 2nd century; but Agrippa’s death date is uncertain, and it is possible that Josephus died earlier, in the reign of Domitian, sometime after ad 93.


Assessment.
As a historian, Josephus shares the faults of most ancient writers: his analyses are superficial, his chronology faulty, his facts exaggerated, his speeches contrived. He is especially tendentious when his own reputation is at stake. His Greek style, when it is truly his, does not earn for him the epithet “the Greek Livy” that often is attached to his name. Yet he unites in his person the traditions of Judaism and Hellenism, provides a connecting link between the secular world of Rome and the religious heritage of the Bible, and offers many insights into the mentality of subject peoples under the Roman Empire.

Personally, Josephus was vain, callous, and self-seeking. There was not a shred of heroism in his character, and for his toadyism he well deserved the scorn heaped upon him by his countrymen. But it may be said in his defense that he remained true to his Pharisee beliefs and, being no martyr, did what he could for his people.

Gary William Poole

Encyclopædia Britannica

 

 

First Jewish Revolt

First Jewish Revolt, (ad 66–70), Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judaea. The First Jewish Revolt was the result of a long series of clashes in which small groups of Jews offered sporadic resistance to the Romans, who in turn responded with severe countermeasures. In the fall of ad 66 the Jews combined in revolt, expelled the Romans from Jerusalem, and overwhelmed in the pass of Beth-Horon a Roman punitive force under Gallus, the imperial legate in Syria. A revolutionary government was then set up and extended its influence throughout the whole country. Vespasian was dispatched by the Roman emperor Nero to crush the rebellion. He was joined by Titus, and together the Roman armies entered Galilee, where the historian Josephus headed the Jewish forces. Josephus’ army was confronted by that of Vespasian and fled. After the fall of the fortress of Jatapata, Josephus gave himself up, and the Roman forces swept the country. On the 9th of the month of Av (August 29) in ad 70, Jerusalem fell; the Temple was burned, and the Jewish state collapsed, although the fortress of Masada was not conquered by the Roman general Flavius Silva until April 73.

 

 

The Rebellion of Bar Kokhba

Simon Bar Kokhba ("the Son of the Star") led the last revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 132 a.d. The catalyst was the ban on circumcision and the Roman attempt to construct a temple to Jupiter in Jerusalem.

Bar Kokhba captured Jerusalem and ruled as "prince of Judea," with messianic traits as defined by ancient Jewish laws, in 135 а.d. he was vanquished by superior Roman strength at Bethar. Thereafter the Jews were forbidden to enter Jerusalem.



Silver coins (tetra drachmas), distributed by Bar Kokhba

 
 
 

Second Jewish Revolt

Second Jewish Revolt, (ad 132–135), Jewish rebellion against Roman rule in Judaea. The revolt was preceded by years of clashes between Jews and Romans in the area. Finally, in ad 132, the misrule of Tinnius Rufus, the Roman governor of Judaea, combined with the emperor Hadrian’s intention to found a Roman colony on the site of Jerusalem and his restrictions on Jewish religious freedom and observances (which included a ban on the practice of male circumcision), roused the last remnants of Palestinian Jewry to revolt. A bitter struggle ensued. Bar Kokhba became the leader of this Second Jewish Revolt; although at first successful, his forces proved no match against the methodical and ruthless tactics of the Roman general Julius Severus. With the fall of Jerusalem and then Bethar, a fortress on the seacoast south of Caesarea where Bar Kokhba was slain, the rebellion was crushed in 135. According to Christian sources, Jews were thenceforth forbidden to enter Jerusalem.
 

 

 

Bar Kokhba

Bar Kokhba, original name Simeon Bar Kosba, Kosba also spelled Koseba, Kosiba, or Kochba, also called Bar Koziba (died ad 135), Jewish leader who led a bitter but unsuccessful revolt (ad 132–135) against Roman dominion in Palestine.

During his tour of the Eastern Empire in 131, the Roman emperor Hadrian decided upon a policy of Hellenization to integrate the Jews into the empire. Circumcision was proscribed, a Roman colony (Aelia) was founded in Jerusalem, and a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus was erected over the ruins of the Jewish Temple.

Enraged by these measures, the Jews rebelled in 132, the dominant and irascible figure of Simeon bar Kosba at their head. Reputedly of Davidic descent, he was hailed as the Messiah by the greatest rabbi of the time, Akiva ben Yosef, who also gave him the title Bar Kokhba (“Son of the Star”), a messianic allusion. Bar Kokhba took the title nasi (“prince”) and struck his own coins, with the legend “Year 1 of the liberty of Jerusalem.”

The Roman historian Dion Cassius noted that the Christian sect refused to join the revolt. The Jews took Aelia by storm and badly mauled the Romans’ Egyptian Legion, XXII Deiotariana. The war became so serious that in the summer of 134 Hadrian himself came from Rome to visit the battlefield and summoned the governor of Britain, Gaius Julius Severus, to his aid with 35,000 men of the Xth Legion. Jerusalem was retaken, and Severus gradually wore down and constricted the rebels’ area of operation, until in 135 Bar Kokhba was himself killed at Betar, his stronghold in southwest Jerusalem. The remnant of the Jewish army was soon crushed; Jewish war casualties are recorded as numbering 580,000, not including those who died of hunger and disease. Judaea was desolated, the remnant of the Jewish population annihilated or exiled, and Jerusalem barred to Jews thereafter. But the victory had cost Hadrian dear, and in his report to the Roman Senate on his return, he omitted the customary salutation “I and the Army are well” and refused a triumphal entry.

Bar Kokhba was derided by some as “Bar Koziba” (a pun on the Hebrew word for liar).

In 1952 and 1960–61 a number of Bar Kokhba’s letters to his lieutenants were discovered in the Judaean desert.

Encyclopædia Britannica