Bar Kochba Revolt Essay, Research Paper
The Jewish revolt led by
Bar 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, and
laws which suppressed the basis of Jews as a nation.
To understand the reason
for Bar Kochba?s Revolt one must go back many years even before the war. Prior
to 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 west
of them, Trajan, in order to keep the Jews in Palestine from rebelling he had
to send a great general to be governor of the Jews in Palestine, a general
who was well with the harshness in which he treated people. This general?s
name was Tineius Rufus, he was the general that put down the uprising of the
Jews 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 that
time. The Jews did not want to rebel anyway. Trajan had promised the Jews
that he would rebuild the asenv ,hc, the Jews assumed this also meant to rebuild
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 was
succeeded by Hadrian. The Jews were unsure if Hadrian would keep the promise
that Trajan once made. Hadrian wanted to go to Jerusalem to see what he was
rebuilding before he started the construction. When Hadrian got there he was
awed by the sight of a once desolate and fruitful city in ruins. He immediately
wanted to start the reconstruction. However later the Jews were surprised
and disappointed to discover that Hadrian wanted to rebuild Jerusalem not as
a city for the Jews to restart in, but as a Pagan city sanctified to the Pagan
G-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 now
be called Aelia Capitolina.
This was a mockery to the Jews. The Jews waited
sixty years from the destruction of the Second asenv ,hc for Rome to restore
it to them. The Jews held themselves back from Rebelling with their neighboring
Jews in Diaspora because they held onto, and believed that Trajan?s promise
would be kept. Furthermore, Hadrian later made a prohibition of circumcision.
"Consequently the Jews saw in Hadrian another Antiochus Epiphanes. And where
there 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 beliefs
in Judaism. If they did not revolt against the Romans they would have died,
in a spiritual sense. Even if the Romans didn?t kill them, they would not
really be Jewish anymore. Circumcision, which was the physical difference
between 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 scholar
of his day, also once believed in Tarsus? promise. He had also been led astray.
Therefore, the great Rabbi helped organize thousands of soldiers to fight
for the independence and welfare of the Jewish people. Rabbi Akiva also picked
a man named Shimon Bar Kochba to lead his army. Rabbi Akiva was sure that
Bar Kochba would turn out to be "A second Judah the Maccabee."
was so sure of this that he called Bar Kochba the jhan. His name alone was
a 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 Torah
which 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 make
sure his army was ferocious and unstoppable. To make sure that his army only
consisted of the strongest warriors, he said that only men who would bite a
finger off his right hand would merit to be in his army, 200,000 people passed
this test. The Rabbi?s objected to this manner of testing Jews. They said
to Bar Kochba, "How long are you going to turn Jews into ohnun hkgc?" This
means, how long will you turn Jews into Warriors with imperfection (a missing
finger). Nonetheless, Bar Kochba could think of no other way to test the Jews.
So the Rabbi?s suggested that anybody who can uproot a Cedar of Lebanon while
riding past it on a horse would be deserving to enter Bar Kochba?s army, 200,000
more people passed this test. After recruiting several others Bar Kochba had
an enormous and ferocious army of about 580,000 people. Bar Kochba was so
confident of his army that before each battle he would say to G-d, "Ribbono
Shel Olam! Do not help us do not hinder us!" What Bar Kochba basica
was, let nature run it?s course, we do not need your help.
With his army,
Bar Kochba started his attack. Instead of Having an attack of Bar Kochba?s
army 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 soon
Bar Kochba had overthrown all of Palestine for the Jews. The Jews were once
again independent. In Jerusalem an alter to the Jewish G-d was placed on the
place where the magnificent asenv ,hc once stood. Also the building of a
wall 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 training
his army. In fact Bar Kochba was right. Hadrian had brought a world renowned
general all the way from Britain to lead his army against the Jews. The Roman
army along with aiding pagan armies went to launch their counterattack against
The Roman army, much like Bar Kochba?s army didn?t attack them
with one big battle. They reconquered Palestine one town at a time. They
defeated little bands of rebels independently defending their cities. The
Romans took back the Galil, Yehuda and
eventually the Roman army forced Bar
Kochba into a small fortified city in Jerusalem called Betar.
It was said
that Betar was impenetrable. Every day of the Roman siege around Betar a man
named Rabbi Elazar Hamoda?i prayed to G-d that they should live another day.
Rabbi Elazar prayed to G-d everyday, "Do not sit in judgment today." One
day a Kussi snuck into the city. He pretended to whisper into Rabbi Elazar?s
ear. When Bar Kochba heard of this, he questioned Rabbi Elazar. Bar Kochba
asked Rabbi Elazar what was said to him by the Kussi on that day. When Rabbi
Elazar replied that nothing was said to him Bar Kochba kicked Rabbi Elazar
and he immediately died.
On the Ninth of Av, shortly after Rabbi Elazar?s
death Betar fell. The Ninth of Av was a very mournful day for the Jews, it
was the day of the destruction of the first and second asenv ,hc. The fall
of Betar was due to a three main events. The first is that the siege of Betar
left the Jews inside the city starving and exhausted. The second is that
a spy from Betar told the Romans a secret way to get into the city. The third
is that perhaps Bar Kochba was not the real protection of the Jews, Rabbi Elazar
was. He was a righteous man and prayed for the welfare of the Jews and of
himself every single day. On the battlefield about a half a million Jews
were 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. However
he was not found to be killed by a Roman, he was found strangled by a huge
serpent. After they saw that Bar Kochba lost the war and died, they realized
that Bar Kochba was no jhan. They renamed hi
m from Bar Kochba which symbolized
him being the jhan, "Son of a Star" to Bar Koziva "Son of deceit."
realized that the Jews would never see Rome as a mother country. A Country
that control them. He realized that the Jews would always see the Romans as
Tyrants. Hadrian finished the construction of the city made by Hadrian for
Jupiter called Aelia Capitolina where Jerusalem once stood. The Jews exiled
from Jerusalem were forbidden to go near the city. The Jews thus every year
on the Ninth of Av would bribe their way into the city and Mourn over the city
that was once the center of their religion. Hadrian issued a bunch of prohibitions
against Judaism. He forbade Circumcision, keeping the Sabbath, and the making
and keeping of a Jewish Calendar. Though not making a calendar may not seam
like such a harsh punishment but it is. Without a Jewish Calendar you cannot
fixate the Jewish Holidays which meant you couldn?t keep them. He also prohibited
studying and teaching. So in short, Hadrian prohibited Judaism.
had to fight, the Jews had to revolt against the Romans. Even though the revolt
yielded disastrous results, the Jews had no other alternative. Bar Kochba
just tried to help. He happened to have been a great general with a magnificent
army. If anyone of lesser talent was to have been general over the Jewish
army and led the revolt, it probably would have been even worse. Bar Kochba
therefore was good for the Jews he gave hope to the Jews and gave them a taste
of independence and what it feels like to fight for all you believe in. He
was the inevitable result of years of suppression. The Jews had no choice
but to revolt. Even if Bar Kochba did not exist a revolt would have still
occurred maybe with a different date and a different leader, but a revolt was
Grayzel, A History of the Jews (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society
of America, 1961) pages.180-185, 199-201, 204-205, 212, 380
2. Rabbi Dr.
Raphael Posner, eds. Junior Judaica, Encyclopedia Judaica for Youth, (Jerusalem:
Keter Publishing House Jerusalem LTD., 1982) s.v. Bar Kokhba pages. 106-107
Suri Cohen, Mashiach, Mashiach, Mashiach. 1996 (?), School Booklet. Shevach
High School, New York. pages. 13-18
4. Naomi Ben-Asher and Hayim Leaf, The
Junior Jewish Encyclopedia (New York City: Sheng Old Publishers Inc, 1967)
s.v. Bar Kokhba, Simeon page. 53
5. Encyclopedia International (Canada:
Grolier Inc., 1972) s.v. Bar Cocheba or Bar
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