Ancient Jewish History VI: Hadrian & Roman-Jewish Wars

Hadrian’s anti-Jewish policies sparked opposition amongst some of the inhabitants of Judea. A huge uprising of the Jewish people took place. A lot of lives would be lost and communities wiped out while the rebellions took place. In this article, you will learn about the outcomes of the second and third Roman-Jewish Wars.

After the revolt spread, Hadrian called for the assistance of his general and troops came from far away. The Romans lost a lot of lives in the process, including what some believe was an entire legion. Eventually, Hadrian’s army suppressed the rebellion in 135. They had been fighting for three years. Documentation from this time period says that 580,000 Jews were killed, and 50 fortified towns and 985 villages were razed. The Babylonian Talmud speaks of the continued persecution of the Jews by Hadrian after the war was over.

One thing that Hadrian attempted, he tried to root out Judaism. He felt that the religion only encouraged people to rebel. He prohibited the Torah law, banned the Hebrew calendar, and executed Judaic scholars (including the Ten Martyrs). He went as far as to completely erase the memory of Judaea by renaming the province. Once he rededicated the capital, he would not let the Jews enter.

Recap of Second Roman-Jewish War

The second rebellion was called the Kitos War (115 to 117 CE). This rebellion stems from the exile that the Jewish people experienced. Jews that had been scattered to locations outside of their homeland were behind major revolts in Cyrene, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, and Aegyptus. The anger got out of control and many roman citizens were slaughtered in the process. The Jewish rebels also killed others. Roman legionary forces were able to put a stop to the rebellions , with Roman general Lusius Quietus played an important role in this.

Recap of Third Roman-Jewish War

The third rebellion is referred to as Bar Kokhba’s revolt. It took place from 132 to 135 CE, and marks the last time the Jews would rebel against the Roman Empire. Simon bar Kokba was the commander of the revolt. He was a heroic figure that was called a Messiah. The people put their faith into him that he could restore Israel. The revolt helped establish an independent state of Israel over parts of the city. This lasted for more than two years, but the Roman army was too powerful for them. They were made up of six full legions with auxiliaries waiting in the wings.

The Romans barred the Jews from Jerusalem, but allowed them to come to attend Tisha B’Av- an annual fast day associated with Judaism. Even the Jewish Christians that hailed Jesus as the Messiah and did not give their support to Bar Kokhba were barred from Jerusalem. This event and the years to follow helped create a distinction between the religions of Christianity and Judaism.