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    Could you summarize the event leading up to the Rebellion and War against Romans by the Jews in 66 BC and then discuss the main points about the Wars between the Jews and Romans: the War of 66-70 CE? What role did the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots play in this war(s)? How do the walls of Jerusalem fit in? An article would also be helpful. Thanks.

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    66 CE - Rebellion and War against Romans

    The Roman procurator Florus provokes a Jewish rebellion that turns into full-scale war. The corrupt administration imposes oppressive taxes, pillages the Upper Market, defiles the Temple, kills 3,600 Jews, and demands payment of tribute from Temple funds. Jews are ordered to salute Roman soldiers and the people silently agree. Someone in the crowd calls out against Florus and the soldiers charge. Some Jews flee. Others race toward the Temple to form a line of defense. Stones rain on the soldiers from rooftops. The soldiers withdraw. Florus leaves Jerusalem and returns to Caesarea. The Temple sacrifice in honor of the emperor is stopped. This is the beginning of the Jewish war against the Romans. Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes join the Zealots. At that time, the population of Jerusalem is approximately 600,000. Zealots march on Jerusalem at the time of the Feast of Sukkot and capture the Antonia Fortress and Herod's palace. During the battle, part of the city is burned including the archives containing the debt records. Menachem, the Zealot leader, is captured and killed while trying to hide in the City of David.

    The nearest Roman army is in Syria and a long time passes before Cestius Gallus appears with his legions. Jews attack and defeat the Roman troops from Syria long before they reach Jerusalem. For three years, the city is free of Roman domination. Coins bearing the legend "Jerusalem the Holy" commemorate this period. The Zealots overthrow the first revolutionary government set up by the high priests. Two groups of Zealots led by Yochanan of Gush-Halav and Simon Bar-Giora fight a civil war within the city. They join forces only to fight the moderates. The Sicarii carry out murderous revenge on pro-Roman aristocrats. The city's human, material and food resources are wasted by the unresolved internal conflict. The Jews unite only when the Roman forces approach. The third or outer wall begun by Agrippa I but abandoned by order of the Romans, is hastily completed by the Zealots. Jerusalem is now defended by three main walls (see Diagram attached). The first wall encloses the southern sides of the two hills on which the city stands. The second wall encloses the commercial quarter in a semi-circle. The northern face of the third wall is most vulnerable to attack. With the countries of her empire watching, Rome is forced to use her full military might against the Jews. Emperor Nero sends Vespasian to stop the rebellion after the defeat of the Syrian soldiers. In 68 C.E., he conquers Judea but not Jerusalem. The Jews do not have a single recognized leader to organize the defense. In-fighting rules until the attack reaches the city walls. Nero commits suicide in Rome and Vespasian is appointed emperor. His son, Titus, is put in charge of conquering Jerusalem. For this war, the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots put their religious differences aside and joined forces against the Romans.The walls were a type of protection shield against outside attackers.


    Wars between the Jews and Romans: the War of 66-70 CE

    There have been several military engagements between the Jews and the Romans:

    * the Roman general Pompey subdued Judaea in 63 BCE (after which it became a client kingdom)
    * in 6 CE, the emperor Augustus deposed king Archelaus, and his governor of Syria, Quirinius, established the province of Judaea (which became a prefecture)
    * in 66, a serious rebellion started, which led to the destruction of the Temple (September 70); this war was described by Flavius Josephus in his Jewish War
    * a little later, the Romans took the fortress Masada (in 74)
    * in 115, the Levantine Jews revolted against emperor Trajan
    * when the emperor Hadrian forbade circumcision, Simon bar Kochba started a Messianic war, which lasted until 136. It meant the end of the multiform Judaism of the first century.

    This is the third of seven documents; it is the first of three documents dealing with the war of 66-70.

    Causes of the War of 66-70

    In 66, the Roman emperor Nero needed money, and ordered his representative in Judaea, Gessius Florus, to confiscate it from the Temple treasure. The governor was not amused when some Jewish jokers passed the hat round for 'our poor procurator Florus' (Flavius Josephus, Jewish War, 2.295). He demanded their punishment, but when his policemen could not find the mockers, he had some passersby arrested and crucified.

    Of course this was tactless and brutal, but it it would not have led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple if there had not been one or two deeper causes. The obvious reason why this incident led to war, was the religious tension between the Jewish populace and the Roman government. However, the Roman governors and the Temple authorities had found practical solutions to deal with these problems.

    The real reason for the war was the impoverishment of the Jewish peasantry. Sixty years of Roman taxation had meant only one thing: the Jews had to pay money, which was spent in Italy and on the border. Judaea had become substantially poorer and many peasants had been forced first to mortgage and then to sell their land. Besides, in Jerusalem many people had become unemployed when he renovation of the temple was finished in 63. The peasants and artsians had a reason to fight, and they were willing to do so.

    For some time, the Temple authorities had been able to check the peasant's anger. But in the third quarter of the first century, most people considered the high priesthood corrupt. The war of 66-70 was not only a war between the Romans and Jews, it was also a class struggle.

    The year 66: escalation

    The incident with the collection plate set fire to the powder. Even though the high priest Ananias and the Jewish prince Marcus Julius Agrippa tried to poor oil on the troubled waters, they were no longer in control of the situation. Many moderates were maltreated; while envoys were on their way to Nero, one of the Roman garrisons in Jerusalem was annihilated. War had become inevitable.

    In August 66, a man named Menahem made a raid on the fortress of Masada, where he seized lots of weapons. This Menahem was the son or the grandson of Judas the Galilean, who had led an anti-Roman revolt in 6 CE; two of his relatives had been crucified after a similar disturbance. The group of Menahem was called Sicarians ('dagger men'). They hailed their leader as king of the Jews and went to Jerusalem, where they laid siege to the remaining Roman garrison. The new king had the high priest Ananias executed, but when he went to the Temple, he was lynched by the adherents of Ananias' son. The Sicarians left Jerusalem and returned to Masada, which they used as a base for a guerilla war, until they were defeated in 74 (below).

    In September 66, the Romans in Jerusalem surrendered and were lynched. Meanwhile, the Greek inhabitants of the capital of Judaea, Caesarea, attacked their Jewish neighbors; the Jews replied in kind, expelling many Greeks from Judaea, Galilee and the Golan heights.

    When Gessius Florus was replaced, the governor of Syria, Gaius Cestius Gallus, tried to pacify the rebellious province and led a legion -the twelfth, surnamed Fulminata- to Jerusalem. It was reinforced with units of III Gallica, IIII Scythica and VI Ferrata, plus auxiliaries and allies. It liberated the pro-Roman capital of Galilee, Sepphoris, and continued to Jerusalem.

    In November, however, the army was forced to return; on his way back, he was defeated by one of the leaders of the Zealots, Eleaser son of Simon. Humiliation was added to the disgrace: the legion lost its standard. This may have been a Jewish success, but it was clear that the Romans would return with a larger army, and many people left Jerusalem, leaving it in the hands of the radicals. There is a late tradition that says that among those who went away, were the Jewish Christians.

    Rabbis like Yohanan ben Zakkai still counseled peace, making a distinction between obligatory and optional war. They were a minority, however, and most Jews prepared for a big war.

    The year 67: outbreak of the war

    The Temple authorities elected generals and ordered them to take charge of the countryside. (One of these was Joseph son of Matthias, the future historian Flavius Josephus.) One of their aims was to seize the ports, which would make it difficult for the Romans to land their forces. At the same time, Nero appointed a new commander: Titus Flavius Vespasianus, also known as Vespasian. This old war horse, who had commanded legions in Germania and Britain, had recently been pensioned off after falling asleep during one of Nero's musical performances; his recall proves that the situation had become very critical indeed. Vespasian appointed his son Titus as one of his lieutenants; his younger son Domitian was kept in honorable detention at the imperial court - to make sure that his father would not rebel.

    While both sides were preparing for a great war, peasant leaders arose in Judaea. Some of them tried to keep their community out of the war, others organized militias to attack all non-Jews. One of the latter was John of Gischala, who controlled the Galilean countryside, which was the province assigned to Joseph son of Matthias. Soon, the two generals were at each others throats, which prevented the Jews from seizing Sepphoris, the pro-Roman capital of Galilee.

    Vespasian's first action was to reinforce Sepphoris (Spring 67). Immediately after the rainy season, he proceeded to the port of Ptolemais (modern Acre), where he gathered his troops. The tenth legion, surnamed Fretensis, he had taken over from the Syrian governor Cestius, who had committed suicide; the fifth legion, called Macedonica, had been under his own command for some time. His son Titus brought the fifteenth legion, Apollinaris. In addition to this army, there were numerous cavalry units and auxiliary troops.

    Vespasian now expelled John of Gischala from a town named Gadara, and after this first success, he marched on Jotapata, which was defended by Joseph son of Matthias. After a bitter struggle, the Romans took the city; its commander was taken prisoner and saved his life by applying the messianic prophecy to Vespasian and predict him imperial rule (1 July; go here and here for the complete story).

    The road to Sepphoris being now secured, Vespasian proceeded along the coast to liberate the ports. Meanwhile, John of Gischala continued the struggle in the Golan heights, on Mount Tabor and from his hometown Gischala. It took Vespasian's son Titus and other commanders a lot of time and energy to pacify Galilee. However, in January 68, they had succeeded.

    In November 67, John had abandoned his guerilla war and gone to Jerusalem, where he became an important leader, behaving himself as a king. There were two other parties in the city: the Sadducee Temple authorities and the Zealots of Eleaser son of Simon. The latter were the most influential: they occupied the Temple, removed the high priest from the scene and replaced him by a strawman named Phannias. Frequently, these two parties used violence in their quarrels, and many Jews left the city.

    They told the Roman generals about the civil strife; and Vespasian decided to postpone his attack until the defenders had worn themselves down. He used the spring of 68 to gain control of the Jordan valley and the fertile region called Peraea ('the other side', that is, of the Jordan river). Meanwhile, his soldiers seized the crops of the Jewish peasantry. During this campaign, the monastery at Qumran was destroyed by soldiers of X Fretensis.

    Having achieved control of Galilee, the coastal region and the Jordan valley, Vespasian could have attacked Jerusalem from three sides. At that moment, however, a messenger brought remarkable news came from Italy: Nero had committed suicide and a senator named Galba was the new ruler of the Roman Empire. Vespasian immediately sent his son Titus to Rome to congratulate the new emperor, but before he had reached Greece, he learned that Galba had been lynched by his own guard. Two new pretenders, Vitellius and Otho, were engaged in a civil war.

    Titus returned to Judaea, where his father decided to postpone the war against the Jews and to intervene in the civil war. Vespasian and Titus were clever diplomats, who secured the support of several Syrian princes, the governor of Egypt and the legions along the Danube. In July 69, on hearing the news that Vitellius had defeated Otho, Vespasian had himself proclaimed emperor, claiming that he wanted to avenge Galba. He went to Egypt, where he cut off the Italian food supply. In September, the army of the Danube defeated the troops of Vitellius. In December, Vespasian was the sole ruler of the world empire. The man who had predicted it, Joseph son of Matthias, was released and received Roman citizenship and a new name Flavius Josephus.

    To the Jews, the situation did not seem hopeless. The appearance of a comet (Cassius Dio, Roman history 65.8.1) seemed to indicate that the time for the great war of liberation had come - was there not a messianic prophecy in the book of Numbers (24.17) that 'a star shall come forth out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel'? And indeed. The Romans had paused their attacks for some time, there was a civil war, and at the other end of the empire, the Batavians had revolted, and a new emperor, Julius Sabinus, had been proclaimed in Gaul. Some optimism was permitted. However, the Romans would come to restore order very soon (excerpted from http://www.livius.org/ja-jn/jewish_wars/jwar03.html).

    FINAL COMMENTS I hope this helps. Good luck in your studies and take care.

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