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The Great Jewish Revolt

The Jewish Revolt against the Roman Empire generally refers to a series of three rebellions:

  • The First Jewish Roman War (66-73 CE)
  • The Kitos War (115-117 CE)
  • The Bar Kokhba's Revolt (132-135 CE)

The Great Revolt refers to the First Jewish Revolt of 66 CE, which resulted in the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. The Great Jewish Revolt is attributed to a combination of ideological conflict between the Jewish community's religious beliefs and the clash of Roman paganism, as well as the imposition of Roman Procurator authority involving the collection of taxes, oppressive rule, and persecution.

Background: The Romans in Judea

The Jewish Province of Judea (later Palestine) first came under Roman Imperialism during the Third Mithridatic War (74-64 B.C.) by Gnaeus Pompey. However, it was not until the 6th century that Judea became an official province of Rome and placed under the authority of Roman Procurators. These Roman authorities were appointed the responsibility for maintaining peace as well as collecting taxes. However, the collection system allowed the Procurators to keep any amount exceeding the tax quota, leading to corrupt means of extracting money from local citizens including individual tax orders and in some cases outright looting and theft.

In addition, Roman authorities declared control over the appointment of the High Priest amongst Jewish society in order to secure individuals willing to cooperate with tax collectors. Other instances of disagreement include Emperor Caligula's declaration of divinity, in which the Emperor ordered that his statue be placed and worshiped in Jewish temples throughout the Empire.

The Great Revolt

With a history of violence and mistreatment by Roman authorities, a Jewish group known as the Zealots, wanting religious freedom and independence from Roman rule, increasingly gained support from the Jewish community and eventually instigated the Great Revolt of 66 CE.

The desecration of a Jewish synagogue and the Roman procurator Florus' theft from the Temple resulted in outrage and the beginning of the Great Jewish Revolt. A riot that led to Jewish victory over a small Roman garrison stationed in Jerusalem. A larger force of Roman soldiers was then sent from neighboring Syria in response to the victory only to once again be defeated by comparatively small Jewish insurgents.

Ultimately, The Jewish revolt could not withstand the forces of the Roman Empire, whose heavily armed troops greatly outnumbered Jewish forces leading to deaths and slavery. The roman siege of Jerusalem eventually led to the city's destruction, and the loss of the second Temple of Jerusalem under general Titus in 70 CE.

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