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Area/Ruler: Roman Judaea: 2nd Jewish Revolt (Bar Kochbar)
Period: 132-135 AD
Denomination: AE24 overstruck on earlier coin
Date of Issue: 134 - 135 AD
Obverse: Seven branch palm tree. "Shimon"
Reverse: Grape leaf "For the freedom of Jerusalem"
Reference: Hendin 736, Meshorer 291, Mildenberg 102 (O8/R66)
Weight: 10.2 gms
Diameter: 24.8 mm

2nd JEWISH REVOLT (Bar Kochbar Revolt)

When Hadrian first became the Roman emperor in 118 A.D., he was sympathetic to the Jews. He allowed them to return to Jerusalem and granted permission for the rebuilding of their Holy Temple, destroyed in the first revolt, which had ended in 74 A.D. Hadrian quickly went back on his word, however, moving the proposed site of the Temple from its original location. He also began deporting Jews to North Africa.

The Jews started to organize guerilla forces and, in 123 A.D., began launching surprise attacks against the Romans. Hadrian, while in Judea sorting the problems, brought in an extra army legion, the "Sixth Ferrata". He exacerbated the problems by forbidding the Jews to perform circumcisions. He appointed Tinneius Rufus governor of Judea.

In approximately 132 A.D., Hadrian began to re-build Jerusalem as a Roman city called Aelia Capitolina, the name being a combination of his own name and that of the Roman god Jupiter Capitolinus, building a temple to Jupiter in place of the Jewish Holy Temple. When Hadrian left in 132, the Jews began their rebellion proper. They seized towns and fortified them with walls and subterranean passages. Under the leadership of Shimon Bar-Kokhba, they captured approximately 50 strongholds in Judea and 985 undefended towns and villages, including Jerusalem. Jews from other countries, and even some gentiles, volunteered to join them. Hadrian dispatched General Publius Marcellus, governor of Syria, to help Rufus, but the Jews defeated both Roman generals.

Hadrian responded by sending one of his best generals from Britain, Julius Severus, along with former governor of Germania, Hadrianus Quintus Lollius Urbicus. By that time, there were 12 army legions from Egypt, Britain, Syria and other areas in Judea. Instead of fighting pitched battles, Severus besieged Jewish fortresses and starved them out.

The Romans demolished all 50 Jewish fortresses and 985 villages, before taking on the rebels in battle. The main conflicts took place in Judea, the Shephela, the mountains and the Judean desert. The Romans suffered heavy casualties before gaining the upper hand. The final battle of the war took place in Bethar, Bar-Kokhba's headquarters, which also housed the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court). Thousands of Jewish refugees had already fled there. In 135 A.D., Hadrian's army besieged Bethar and on the 9th of Av, the Jewish fast day commemorating the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples, the walls of Bethar fell. After a fierce battle, every Jew in Bethar was killed. Six days passed before the Romans allowed the Jews to bury their dead.

After the revolt, the Romans ploughed over Jerusalem with a yoke of oxen and Jews were sold into slavery. Judean settlements were not rebuilt. Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem. The Jewish 'diaspora' was complete and it was not until the 20th century that a Jewish state once more emerged.

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