The Jewish revolt led byBar Kochba in 132 AD was not the work of a single if a single radical revolutionary.
It was the inevitable result of years of promises not kept to the Jews, andlaws which suppressed the basis of Jews as a nation.To understand the reasonfor Bar Kochbas Revolt one must go back many years even before the war. Priorto Hadrian, an emperor by the name of Trajan was the ruler of the Roman empire.Due to the rebellion of the Jews in the Diaspora to the east and the westof them, Trajan, in order to keep the Jews in Palestine from rebelling he hadto send a great general to be governor of the Jews in Palestine, a generalwho was well with the harshness in which he treated people. This generalsname was Tineius Rufus, he was the general that put down the uprising of theJews in Parthia. Because of Rufus reputation of his severity to the Jews,he uprooted any thought of the Jews in Palestine to rebel against Rome at thattime.
The Jews did not want to rebel anyway. Trajan had promised the Jewsthat he would rebuild the asenv ,hc, the Jews assumed this also meant to rebuildJerusalem.The Pagans in Palestine did not want the asenv ,hc to be rebuilt,they thought that if it was rebuilt it would be the rebirth of the Jewish nation.Also, in addition, Trajan, the Emperor who made this promise died and wassucceeded by Hadrian. The Jews were unsure if Hadrian would keep the promisethat Trajan once made.
Hadrian wanted to go to Jerusalem to see what he wasrebuilding before he started the construction. When Hadrian got there he wasawed by the sight of a once desolate and fruitful city in ruins. He immediatelywanted to start the reconstruction.
However later the Jews were surprisedand disappointed to discover that Hadrian wanted to rebuild Jerusalem not asa city for the Jews to restart in, but as a Pagan city sanctified to the PaganG-d Jupiter. He was going to put an alter where the Jews asenv ,hc once stood.Hadrian was to be the high priest. What once was called Jerusalem would nowbe called Aelia Capitolina. This was a mockery to the Jews. The Jews waitedsixty years from the destruction of the Second asenv ,hc for Rome to restoreit to them. The Jews held themselves back from Rebelling with their neighboringJews in Diaspora because they held onto, and believed that Trajans promisewould be kept. Furthermore, Hadrian later made a prohibition of circumcision.
“Consequently the Jews saw in Hadrian another Antiochus Epiphanes. And wherethere was an Antiochus, a Maccabee was bound to arise.” THE JEWS HAD TO REVOLT.
The Romans had by now either banned or mocked some of the most important beliefsin Judaism. If they did not revolt against the Romans they would have died,in a spiritual sense. Even if the Romans didnt kill them, they would notreally be Jewish anymore. Circumcision, which was the physical differencebetween them as Jews and, as well as a basic premise of their Jewish beliefs.Their only choice was to gain their independence. Rabbi Akiva, a great scholarof his day, also once believed in Tarsus promise. He had also been led astray.
Therefore, the great Rabbi helped organize thousands of soldiers to fightfor the independence and welfare of the Jewish people. Rabbi Akiva also pickeda man named Shimon Bar Kochba to lead his army. Rabbi Akiva was sure thatBar Kochba would turn out to be “A second Judah the Maccabee.”Rabbi Akivawas so sure of this that he called Bar Kochba the jhan. His name alone wasa reference to him being the jhan, his name Bar Kochba means “Son of a Star”from the word Kochab which means star. There was also a sentence in the Torahwhich stated, “A star has come forth from David.” Both times a star is mentioned.This is a direct referral to him being the jhan.
Bar Kochba had to makesure his army was ferocious and unstoppable. To make sure that his army onlyconsisted of the strongest warriors, he said that only men who would bite afinger off his right hand would merit to be in his army, 200,000 people passedthis test. The Rabbis objected to this manner of testing Jews.
They saidto Bar Kochba, “How long are you going to turn Jews into ohnun hkgc?” Thismeans, how long will you turn Jews into Warriors with imperfection (a missingfinger). Nonetheless, Bar Kochba could think of no other way to test the Jews.So the Rabbis suggested that anybody who can uproot a Cedar of Lebanon whileriding past it on a horse would be deserving to enter Bar Kochbas army, 200,000more people passed this test. After recruiting several others Bar Kochba hadan enormous and ferocious army of about 580,000 people. Bar Kochba was soconfident of his army that before each battle he would say to G-d, “RibbonoShel Olam! Do not help us do not hinder us!” What Bar Kochba basically meantwas, let nature run its course, we do not need your help.
With his army,Bar Kochba started his attack. Instead of Having an attack of Bar Kochbasarmy to all of Palestine at once, he captured Palestine a little at a time.He would take over fortress after fortress, city after city.
Pretty soonBar Kochba had overthrown all of Palestine for the Jews. The Jews were onceagain independent. In Jerusalem an alter to the Jewish G-d was placed on theplace where the magnificent asenv ,hc once stood. Also the building of awall around Jerusalem had begun. Despite this new joy brought to the Jews,Bar Kochba knew that the Romans were planning a counter attack so he kept traininghis army. In fact Bar Kochba was right. Hadrian had brought a world renownedgeneral all the way from Britain to lead his army against the Jews. The Romanarmy along with aiding pagan armies went to launch their counterattack againstBar Kochba.
The Roman army, much like Bar Kochbas army didnt attack themwith one big battle. They reconquered Palestine one town at a time. Theydefeated little bands of rebels independently defending their cities. TheRomans took back the Galil, Yehuda and eventually the Roman army forced BarKochba into a small fortified city in Jerusalem called Betar. It was saidthat Betar was impenetrable. Every day of the Roman siege around Betar a mannamed Rabbi Elazar Hamodai prayed to G-d that they should live another day.Rabbi Elazar prayed to G-d everyday, “Do not sit in judgment today.” Oneday a Kussi snuck into the city.
He pretended to whisper into Rabbi Elazarsear. When Bar Kochba heard of this, he questioned Rabbi Elazar. Bar Kochbaasked Rabbi Elazar what was said to him by the Kussi on that day. When RabbiElazar replied that nothing was said to him Bar Kochba kicked Rabbi Elazarand he immediately died.
On the Ninth of Av, shortly after Rabbi Elazarsdeath Betar fell. The Ninth of Av was a very mournful day for the Jews, itwas the day of the destruction of the first and second asenv ,hc. The fallof Betar was due to a three main events. The first is that the siege of Betarleft the Jews inside the city starving and exhausted.The second is thata spy from Betar told the Romans a secret way to get into the city.
The thirdis that perhaps Bar Kochba was not the real protection of the Jews, Rabbi Elazarwas. He was a righteous man and prayed for the welfare of the Jews and ofhimself every single day.On the battlefield about a half a million Jewswere found dead.
The rest of the Jews were either sold as slaves, hid in caves,or fled to other countries. Bar Kochba was found dead on the front. Howeverhe was not found to be killed by a Roman, he was found strangled by a hugeserpent. After they saw that Bar Kochba lost the war and died, they realizedthat Bar Kochba was no jhan.
They renamed him from Bar Kochba which symbolizedhim being the jhan, “Son of a Star” to Bar Koziva “Son of deceit.” Hadrianrealized that the Jews would never see Rome as a mother country. A Countrythat control them. He realized that the Jews would always see the Romans asTyrants. Hadrian finished the construction of the city made by Hadrian forJupiter called Aelia Capitolina where Jerusalem once stood. The Jews exiledfrom Jerusalem were forbidden to go near the city.The Jews thus every yearon the Ninth of Av would bribe their way into the city and Mourn over the citythat was once the center of their religion. Hadrian issued a bunch of prohibitionsagainst Judaism.
He forbade Circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, and the makingand keeping of a Jewish Calendar. Though not making a calendar may not seamlike such a harsh punishment but it is. Without a Jewish Calendar you cannotfixate the Jewish Holidays which meant you couldnt keep them. He also prohibitedstudying and teaching. So in short, Hadrian prohibited Judaism. The Jewshad to fight, the Jews had to revolt against the Romans. Even though the revoltyielded disastrous results, the Jews had no other alternative. Bar Kochbajust tried to help.
He happened to have been a great general with a magnificentarmy. If anyone of lesser talent was to have been general over the Jewisharmy and led the revolt, it probably would have been even worse. Bar Kochbatherefore was good for the Jews he gave hope to the Jews and gave them a tasteof independence and what it feels like to fight for all you believe in. Hewas the inevitable result of years of suppression. The Jews had no choicebut to revolt.
Even if Bar Kochba did not exist a revolt would have stilloccurred maybe with a different date and a different leader, but a revolt wasinescapable. Bibliography1. SolomonGrayzel, A History of the Jews (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Societyof America, 1961) pages.180-185, 199-201, 204-205, 212, 3802. Rabbi Dr.Raphael Posner, eds. Junior Judaica, Encyclopedia Judaica for Youth, (Jerusalem:Keter Publishing House Jerusalem LTD., 1982) s.
v. Bar Kokhba pages. 106-1073.Suri Cohen, Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach. 1996 (?), School Booklet. ShevachHigh School, New York. pages. 13-184.
Naomi Ben-Asher and Hayim Leaf, TheJunior Jewish Encyclopedia (New York City:Sheng Old Publishers Inc, 1967)s.v. Bar Kokhba, Simeon page. 535.Encyclopedia International (Canada:Grolier Inc., 1972) s.
v. Bar Cocheba or Bar Kokba page.386Category: History