Saturday, January 9, 2016

Forty Thousand Surviving the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE: A Population Bottleneck

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                          
Jewish Slaves led away from Jerusalem in 70 CE forced to carry Temple Loot by Romans 
 The Arch of Titus, celebrating the Roman sack of Jerusalem and the Temple, still stands in Rome.

Did the Romans plot the burning of Jerusalem to coincide with the day the most people would be in harm's way?  This siege of the Jewish capital, Jerusalem began on the very day of the Passover sacrifice to which many thousands of pilgrims had arrived from all parts of the country.  This made the number of besieged people very high. "The Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus, with Tiberius Julius Alexander as his second-in-command, besieged and conquered the city of Jerusalem, which had been occupied by its Jewish defenders in 66. The siege ended with the sacking of the city and the destruction of its famous Second Temple. " In this first Jewish-Roman War that took place from February to August in the year of 70 CE, the Romans fought with 70,000 soldiers and the Jews had a total of about 40,000 total.  All the fighting Jews were slain.  
Romans burned down Temple in 70 CE and the city of Jerusalem
Among the people were many from beyond the Euphrates River and other foreign lands.  1,100,000 men perished during the siege.  97,000 were taken captive and sold and of those only 40,000 survived.  All the citizens of Jerusalem and the rest were sold as slaves.  Some were sent into the mines in Egypt.  Others were sent among the provinces for the circuses of Rome.  Where did the 40,000 who survived settle after having been allowed to go where they liked? 

"Titus began his siege a few days before Passover which falls on the 14th of Nissan( in 2015 would have happened on Wednesday, April 1st), surrounding the city, with three legions (MacedonicaXII FulminataXV Apollinaris) on the western side and a fourth (Fretensis) on the Mount of Olives to the east  If the reference in his Jewish War at 6:421 is to Titus's siege, though difficulties exist with its interpretation, then at the time, according to Josephus, Jerusalem was thronged with many people who had come to celebrate Passover. The thrust of the siege began in the west at the Third Wall, north of the Jaffa Gate. By May, this was breached and the Second Wall also was taken shortly afterwards, leaving the defenders in possession of the Temple and the upper and lower city. After Jewish allies killed a number of Roman soldiers, Titus sent Josephus, the Jewish historian, to negotiate with the defenders; this ended with Jews wounding the negotiator with an arrow, and another sally was launched shortly after. Titus was almost captured during this sudden attack, but escaped.
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish general whose real name was Yoseph ben Mattityahu ha-Cohen, c 38 to 100 CE, was himself of a priestly family who survived only to be the slave of the Romans as their historian.  In 64, before Jerusalem was burned down, he went to Rome on a semi-public mission.  In 66 the Jewish people had revolted and temporarily regained their independence.  He was then regarded as an expert in political affairs and was sent as a representative of the Revolutionary Government to the Galilee where he assumed the supreme military command.  He then quarreled violently with the patriotic extremists who accused him of temporizing tendencies. He estimated that during his time there were 80,000 Jews living in Jerusalem.  He said 6,000 were Pharisees, the forerunners of today's rabbis.
 Then the Romans attacked in 67, and he directed the resistance and was besieged in Jotapata, an ancient town in the Galilee which Josephus fortified and held against the Romans in the war of 66-70 CE. but on the capture of the city, he did the unthinkable and went over onto the Roman side.  From then on he called himself  Flavius, the family name of Vespasian, the Roman Emperor from 69 to 79. Emperor Nero had sent him in 67 to subdue the Judean rebellion and by 68 he had conquered the Galilee, Transjordan and the Judean coast before suspending operations on receiving the new of Nero's death.  In 69 he became emperor, and the campaign was ended by his son, TITUS. Vespasian patronized Josephus and the Talmud reports that speaks of his favorable treatment of Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai. Josephus said that during this war from 66 to 73 CE, 1,100,000 Jews were killed.  Tacitus, the Roman historian estimated that 600,000 Jews had died in the war.
 "Hillel Geva estimated from the archaeological evidence that the actual population of Jerusalem before its 70 CE destruction was at most 20,000.
Visitors at Western Wall

"Geva was among the senior archeologists who had  the privilege of excavating the Western Wall compound and the Jewish quarter for more than a decade after the reunification of the city in 1967. " 
Emperor Titus seizes Jerusalem
 Josephus went with Vespasian and Titus during the siege of Jerusalem and tried to persuade the Jews to abandon their resistance.  After the revolt was crushed by the Romans, he was given some confiscated estates in Judea, but lived in Rome instead.  In his own writings, he tried to show his integrity as a patriotic leader and his devotion to the Roman cause.
 He wrote THE JEWISH WAR, towards the end of Vespasian's reign which was most likely based on another writing-THE ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS, which gave the history of the Jews from the beginning to the outbreak of the War with Rome.

By then  the Jews had been suffering from the domination of the Persian Empire, and then later, the conquering armies of Alexander the Great.  When Alexander died, his vast kingdom was divided among his generals.  They had a power struggle which engulfed all the nations of the Middle East and Israel found itself under the sway of the Seleucid Dynasty.  They were Greek kings who reigned from Syria.

We learn in the Talmud that when Alexander the Great and his conquering legions advanced on Jerusalem, the High Priest Shimon HaTzaddik met them with a delegation of elders.  Alexander saw them coming, dismounted and prostrated himself before this Jewish sage.  Alexander explained that each time he went into battle, he saw a vision in the likeness of this High Priest leading the Greek troops to victory.  Alexander believed the Jews had spiritual powers.  He was a king and generous ruler and canceled the Jewish taxes during Sabbatical years and even offered animals to be sacrificed on his behalf in the Temple.  His heirs failed to sustain his benevolence.

The Romans had no leader like Alexander the Great.  They  had destroyed the Jews' 2nd Temple in Jerusalem and then took over the city.  On this date of 70 CE they burned the capital down and took away Jews as slaves for Rome, however,  many others were able to get out and flee.  Then the Romans built their own temple over the spot where Solomon's 2nd Temple had stood.

Individual Jews had lived in France before this date of 70 CE.  There had been organized Jewish communities in France during the period of the Roman Empire. The earliest Jews who were to be called Ashkenazis got to France from Rome, and then went into Germany as well where they were there for a long period of time, long enough to mix German in with Hebrew which was called Yiddish.

We know that many Jews remained in Judah and Israel that the Romans didn't catch.  Those that left went in 3 directions.  One was to the neighboring Middle Eastern countries and settle there.  The other went to France and the Rhineland "Germany." and became the Ashkenazim. . Some had gone in the direction of Spain where they became the Sephardim.
Every country has coveted the Land of Israel, for it is located between 2 continents, Asia and Africa and sits on the crossroads there.  It's also between 2 seas, the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, making transportation so much easier.  Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks and finally the British from WWI have all traversed the Land on their way to further conquest.                                                                              
Jews have faced a bottleneck in their population.  A bottleneck is a sharp reduction in the size of a population due to a cause like human activity in their case.  They either recover from it or become extinct.   Conversely, depending upon the causes of the bottleneck, the survivors may have been the genetically fittest individuals, hence increasing the frequency of the fitter genes within the gene pool, while shrinking it.  It seems like we have had many bottlenecks since then with the biggest one during the Holocaust with the loss of 6 million Jews.  
Levite Priest

"Y-chromosomal Aaron is the name given to the hypothesized most recent common ancestor of many of the patrilineal Jewish priestly caste known as Kohanim (singular "Kohen", "Cohen", or Kohane).  In the Torah, this ancestor is identified as Aaron, the brother of Moses. The hypothetical most recent common ancestor was therefore dubbed "Y-chromosomal Aaron", by analogy to Y-chromosomal Adam.
The original scientific research was based on the discovery that a majority of present-day Jewish Kohanim either share, or are only one step removed from, a pattern of values for 6 Y-STR markers, which researchers named the Cohen Modal Haplotype (CMH). later findings using a larger number of Y-STR markers to gain higher resolution more specific genetic signatures, has indicated that about half of contemporary Jewish Kohanim, who share Y-chromosomal haplogroup J1c3 (also called J-P58), appear to be closely related.  While many Arabs carry the J1c3d haplogroup, about half of the Jews carry this line.  
"Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora." (M.F. Hammer, Proc. Nat'l Academy of Science, June 9, 2000)" "Although the Ashkenazi (European) community separated from their Mediterranean ancestors some 1,200 years ago and lived among Central and Eastern European gentiles, their paternal gene pool still resembles that of other Jewish and Semitic groups, originating in the Middle East."
Aaron's line of Kohens were indeed survivors.  Despite a bottleneck, we still have some after 4,000 years.  
Resource: Josephus, by Whiston, Kregel publications
 Tanakh, Stone Edition
Your Chanukah Guide, 1996, Chabad-Lubavitch.

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