Author: Darren Larson

The Second and Third Jewish-Roman Wars

The Jews were dispersed outside Judea. Jews moved to Cyrenaica, Egypt, Cyprus and Mesopotamia. These displaced Jews continued their uprising against the Romans which led to the Second Jewish-Roman War also known as Kitos War. The Jews were led by Lukuas in this revolt. Unluckily, the Jews were again defeated by the Romans. This time, the captured Jews were enslaved or banished. The Romans became more hostile; they banned the Torah; sought and executed the rabbis and Jewish scholars.

The third and final war of the Romans and the Jews was called Bar Kokhba Revolt because it was led by Simon Bar Kokhba in 132 CE. This war lasted for three violent years and ended with the more massive diaspora of the Jews following their defeat. This time the Jews were totally forbidden in their homeland, so they were really scattered in various parts of the earth. Luckily, they were able to settle and find jobs in the places where they transferred.

Jews continued experiencing tortures, expulsions and killings even after their dispersion from their homeland. With the proliferation of Christianity between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Crusaders, wiped out the entire population of Jews in Jerusalem by burning and/ or killing them. In the 18th century, the Jews were allowed to become citizens in France and the US through the American Revolution. More and more countries started accepting the Jews in their territories as the years go by. But in the 20th, the Nazi forces executed around six million Jews during the Holocaust known as the pogrom, forcing again the Jews to be dispersed from the lands where they have previously sought refuge.

The diaspora is an earlier form of racial discrimination or even worst. They had experienced being looked upon, maltreated, persecuted, exiled deprived of their freedom and their basic rights. They were mistreated due to some rumors or misinformation spread against them. They were accused of killing Christian babies and used their blood in making bread, and they were also accused of killing Jesus Christ. Up until now, diaspora still continues in some parts of the world now, not necessarily to the Jews but also for people who were ostracized or exiled.
The Jewish diaspora gave many lessons to the Jews. Today, they are still scattered all over the world, even if they are already allowed to return to their homeland. Had they not dispersed before, they might not have thrived the way they are flourishing now.

Article written by Darren Lawson. Darren is a writer for CNN, TechRepublic, and Credit Sage.

1st Century BC Jewish History

In 331 BCE, Alexander the Great conquered Judah. By this time, Alexander the Great had conquered most of the lands surrounding Israel. He is also a very tolerant leader who respected the Jews and their way of life. But Alexander the Great did not rule for a long period of time for he died at a very young age, 33. Having no heir to his throne, the lands he conquered were divided to his three generals: Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Seleucus.

Ptolemy got Judeah (Greek name of Judah) together with the land of Egypt. This time, the Jews were given more freedom. Many of them even migrated to Egypt where they were given jobs (agricultural laborers, metalworkers, weavers, merchants, some even served the army). The Jews became known to be efficient workers; consequently, making them earn more jobs.

Moreover, those who settled along the Mediterranean maintained their contact with their fellow Jews, and although they have started adopting to the Greek culture, they still kept loyal to their religion (Jews worship one God while Greeks believed in many Gods). It is in this time that they came up with the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible.

In 200 BCE, Seleucus conquered Judeah. His successor, Antiochus, was persuaded by his high priest, Jason, to make Jerusalem more Greek, though he still respects the place of worship of the Jews and their religion. Another priest, Menelaus, desired to obtain the position of Jason, by bribing him. Later on, the people of Jerusalem learned that Menelaus took the money he used to bribe Jason from the temple treasury. This ignited Jewish rebellion. Antiochus got annoyed with these events, so he resorted to violent solutions. He ordered the killing and selling of the protesting Jews. He disregarded the religious beliefs of the Jews, including the Torah. He showed his power by placing a statue of Zeus near the altar in the Temple of the Jews.

In 164 BCE, Judah, the son of Matthatias who was a Jewish priest, led a guerilla style war against the Seleucian. Having more knowledge about Judeah, the Maccabees, the name of the guerilla Jews, soon were able to capture Jerusalem. They were able to retrieve their Temple which led to a celebration which is now known as a holiday named Hanukkah. The Jews were able to redeem their rights and freedom.

The mid-first century started yet more challenging years for the Jews when Pompey, a Roman general, conquered Jerusalem. At first, the Jews did not feel the hardships of being under the Roman Empire because they were not curtailed of their freedom, but soon the Romans imposed excessive oppressive rules especially on taxation. This led to resistance from the Jews. They were forced to steal to be able to pay their taxes. The Jews who have maintained unity in the past years amidst the dispersions and exiles that they had experienced now fought among themselves. They were divided into factions: Zealots, Pharisees, Sadducees and the Essenes.

Riots here and there resulted to the Great Revolt or the First Jewish-Roman War. The Romans took advantage of the divided forces of the Jews and executed 60, 000 Jews. But the Jews were able to regain their force and still fought back against the Romans who brought in reinforcement from the Syrian troops. But with the help of General Vespasian and his son Titus, the Romans were able to regain control of Jerusalem, destroying the second Temple of the Jews. The war ended in 73 CE.…

What is the Jewish Diaspora?

The word diaspora according to means (mass) exodus, disbandment, dispersal, dispersion, dissolution, escape and refugee flow. Miriam Webster’s Dictionary it can refer to people (Jews), place (where the Jews settled after exile) and the act of movement, migration or scattering of people away from their ancestral homelands. In Hebrew, it is equivalent to the word galut and is always associated with the word exile. Its first known use was when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek or the Septuagint, between 740 – 722 BCE.

The history of the Jewish diaspora started with the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians in 733 BCE led by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria. Assyrians took advantage of Israel’s weak army. In 725 BCE, Shalmaneser V continued conquering the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), and after 3 years the conquest was completed by Sargon II, forcing the people of Samaria to leave their homeland. Most of the dispersed people settled in Mesopotamia and others scattered in the nearby lands—this led to the “lost of the ten tribes”. On the other hand, the southern Kingdom of Judeah remained untouched by the conquerors this time because their king agreed to pay silver and gold to the conquering Assyrians.

Gradually, Assyrians settled in Israel where a fusion of cultures and some practices developed. Both groups did not reject each other’s practices and beliefs. The Assyrians did not deny the Hebrews’ practices; some of them even adopted Judaism later on, but with a few modifications. And, although the presence of Assyrians was not welcomed by the Hebrews, they also respected the cultures and beliefs of the Assyrians.

612 BCE marks the fall of the Assyrian conquest in Israel—the Babylonian captivity. They were besieged by the Babylonians led by King Nebuchadnezzar. In 586 BCE the Babylonians fully conquered Israel. The Hebrews resisted the laws of King Nebuchadnezzar—they revolted, refused to pay tribute; hence, people from some parts of the Kingdom of Judeah were deported to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar in 597 BCE and, again, in 586 BCE. The resistance of the people resulted in the destruction of the temple. Those who were exiled to Babylon were forced to stay there for 48 years. This time, the Hebrews started to be called Jews.

Even though the Jews were dispersed to different locations, they continued worshipping and following their religious and cultural practices. The prophets were there to interpret God’s words and messages and continued inspiring people to live by the word of God.

The Jews gained hope when Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, Conquered Babylonia in 539 BCE. King Cyrus the Great was a more tolerant leader. This became a period of restoration because he allowed the exiled Jews to return to their homeland. He gave them the freedom to exercise their religious belief and political ideals. The destroyed temple was also rebuilt, a symbol of a renewed religious life for the Jews. However, not all Jews who were banished to Babylon came back to their homeland; some people chose to stay in Babylon even after the period of restoration because traveling might be too dangerous for them.…

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