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11/22/2022 10:33:44 AM


Roman forces destroy Jerusalem and the Temple

Rome was the major superpower in the Western world some two thousand years ago. The corrupt leadership in Jerusalem gave the Romans control over the Judean state in order to solve a family “game of thrones” dilemma. When the Romans replaced the Seleucids as the great power in the region, they granted the Hasmonean king, Hyrcanus II, limited authority under the Roman governor of Damascus. The Jews resented this Roman interference in political affairs and in the end Rome responded by taking over the country completely.
In 37 BCE, Herod, a son-in-law of Hyrcanus II, was appointed King of Judea by the Romans. Granted almost unlimited autonomy in the country's internal affairs, he became one of the most powerful monarchs in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. A great admirer of Greco-Roman culture, Herod launched a massive construction program, which included the city of Caesarea and the fortresses at Herodium and Masada. He also remodeled the Temple into one of the most magnificent buildings of its time. But despite his many achievements, Herod failed to win the trust and support of his Jewish subjects. In part this is because his own parents were forced to convert to Judaism by the Maccabees.
Ten years after Herod's death (4 BCE), Judea came under direct Roman administration. Growing anger against increased Roman suppression of Jewish life resulted in violence which became a revolt in 66 CE. Roman forces led by Titus were finally victorious, razing Jerusalem to the ground (70 CE) and defeating the last Jewish outpost at Masada (73 CE).
The total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was catastrophic for the Jewish people. According to the contemporary historian Josephus Flavius, hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the siege of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country, and many thousands more were sold into slavery. Although Masada gets attention as the last outpost, a more important story is about the rabbis who enabled Judaism to survive. Next time!

Sun, February 5 2023 14 Sh'vat 5783