Saturday, November 1, 2014

The First Jewish Holocaust

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                     

                                                   Jerusalem Burning  by Romans 70 CE

General Bar Kokhba revolted against the Romans from 132 to 135 CE, 65 years after the 2nd Temple was destroyed by the  Romans and the shock of having to fight against Jews again for 3 years, a revolt that was the fiercest and longest faced by the Roman Empire,  caused them to make a determined effort to stamp out Jewish identity in the Jewish homeland.
                                         General (Aluf) Bar Kokhba

The Romans decided to lay the country into a wasteland.  Jerusalem was plowed over at Hadrian's order and renamed Aelia Capitolina.  Judah, the country, was then renamed Syria Palestina.  
                     Jewish slaves brought to Rome-depicted here on Arch of Titus with loot from Temple
"The Arch provides one of the few contemporary depictions of Temple period artifacts
The seven-branched menorah and trumpets are clearly depicted. It became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora. In a later era, Pope Paul IV made it the place of a yearly oath of submission. Until the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948, many Jews refused to walk under it. However, when the existence of modern State of Israel was formally declared, many Roman Jews gathered by the arch and in joyful celebration, walked backwards under the arch to symbolize beginning of the long-awaited redemption from the Roman Exile.
The menorah depicted on the Arch served as the model for the menorah used on the emblem of the state of Israel." (1) The relief shows the march of Jewish captives bearing the Temple vessels, the shewbread table, 7-branched candlestick, and the trumpet;  the Jordan;  and the sacrificial procession.  

580,000 Jewish soldiers died in this battle.  An untold number of civilians died from starvation and pestiilence.  985 villages were destroyed.

However, were Jews about to be run out completely?  No.  Those that managed to escape the holocaust returned, most to the Galilee as they had been banished from Jerusalem and now it was in shambles anyway.   Jews who had been sold into slavery were redeemed by those who weren't.  Jewish life continued in this way.                                                                

 The Mishnah was finished and so was the Jerusalem Talmud.  Most of the returnees farmed the land in order to survive.

What happened to the Romans and their G-d that they had tried to push down the Jewish throats in previous years?  By the 4th century, The Roman Empire adopted Christianity.  From then on, the continued policy of the Romans was carried on by these new Christians, to prevent the birth of any glimmer of renewed hope of Jewish independence.  It was the now basic to Christian theology that the loss of national independence was an act of G-d designed to punish the Jewish people for their rejection of Christ.  The work of the almighty had to be helped along.  Most of the world were governed then by emperors and some were more lenient towards the Jews than others.  However, they all managed to maintain the minimal criteria of oppression and restriction on the Jews.
The Jews managed to keep on trying, though.  In 351 they launched another revolt which caused heavy retribution.  In 438, Empress Eudocia removed the ban on Jews praying at the Temple site.  The Jews were so happy that they issued a call, "Know then that the end of the exile of our people has come!" 
The Jews thought a new day had dawned in their history so they made an alliance with the Persians (Iran) who invaded Palestine in 614 and fought at their side which overwhelmed the Byzantine garrison in Jerusalem and governed the city for 3 years.  Then the Persians  turned and made peace with Emperor Heraclius. This caused Christian rule to be reestablished and Jews were again banished from Jerusalem.  Byzantine rule of vengeful persecution started, but it was short-lived.
For in 632, the Moslem Arab invaders came and conquered and this is how and when Arabs arrived in the Jewish Homeland.  By 640,Syria  Palestine  was a part of the emerging Moslem empire.

Resource; Battleground by Samuel Katz, p. 86-87 (1)
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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