Bar Kokhba, original name Simeon Bar Kosba, Kosba also spelled Koseba, Kosiba, or Kochba, also called Bar Koziba, (died 135 ce), Jewish leader who led a bitter but unsuccessful revolt (132–135 ce) against Roman dominion in Judaea.. During his tour of the Eastern Empire in 131, the Roman emperor Hadrian decided upon a policy of Hellenization to integrate the Jews into the empire. Since Bar Kokhba was proclaimed as Messiah and Messiah was expected to build Ezekiel’s Temple, then perhaps the platform is the remains of the Temple of Bar Kokhba. He was able to hold back a Roman catapult. However, the rabbis objected to such an act of self-mutilation, and therefore he resorted to the test of “simply” uprooting trees. This article was most recently revised and updated by,, Jewish Virtual Library - Biography of Shimon bar Kokhba. However, he made certain conditions that were untenable, one of which was that it should be built in a different location. When one goes to Jerusalem today, the mountains around the Temple Mount (such as the Mount of Olives and Mount Scopus) are taller. The reason was simple: Rome felt itself threatened as no other time. He had a great and sincere faith. Supposedly of the line of David, some hailed him as the Messiah, inferred from his name change, Kosba to Kokhba (“Son of the Star” from Numbers 24:17). The Emperor at the time was named Trajan and they negotiated with him at length to rebuild the Temple. Yet during this period, the name of bar Kokhba was equated with that of the Messiah. Only forty years after the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jews attempted to rebuild it –with the permission of the Roman government. The Romans thought they had now brought the matter to an end; that Judea was pacified once and for all. He simply lowered it almost 1,000 feet. Bar Kokhba managed unite many followers and raise a very large army. This would be fitting as Bar-Kokhba was descended from the Davidic dynasty (which is the Messianic dynasty according to Jewish tradition) and the Messianic hopes of the nation centered around him. According to Dio Cassius and Jewish sources, at least a half a million Jews were killed. Tradition holds that the name Bar Kokhba was given to him by Rabbi Akiva, who believed that the rebel leader might be the Messiah. The decrees of Hadrian were the most fearsome in history against the Jewish people. After reading the name of Jerusalem “Aelia Capitolina” I went into the wipi website and they make Hadrian look like a sweet smelling flower. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. The Romans were so hard pressed that Hadrian brought his best general and all of his troops from England, Gaul, Germany and all of the provinces scattered throughout the Roman world. Extent of the Bar Kokhba revolt in its first year, 132 C.E. Before Hadrian, however, Mount Moriah (the mountain upon with the Temple stood) was the highest mountain there. Shortly, Ben Kozba became known as Bar Kokhba (Bar Kochba), which means son of a star, based on a verse in the Torah (Numbers 24:17) that likens the Messiah to a star. He had active support of most of the rabbis – in contradistinction to the first two revolts against Rome. The name means ‘son of a star’ (from the prophecy in Num. It was Rabbi Akiva who ascribed to Shimon bar Kochba the famous messianic verse: “A star will shoot forth from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). 8 Firstly, Bar Kokhba appears to have been hailed as a messiah by rabbi Akiba. Circumcision was proscribed, a Roman colony (Aelia) was founded in Jerusalem, and a temple to Jupiter Capitolinus was erected over the ruins of the Jewish Temple. A second Messiah figure, Messiah ben Joseph, also emerged in rabbinic literature. Foremost among the martyrs was Rabbi Akiva. Bar Kokhba, original name Simeon Bar Kosba, Kosba also spelled Koseba, Kosiba, or Kochba, also called Bar Koziba, (died 135 ce), Jewish leader who led a bitter but unsuccessful revolt (132–135 ce) against Roman dominion in Judaea. By the third year of his reign there were already signs of disenchantment. In effect, he decided to “solve the Jewish problem” once and for all. In those instances the rabbis were at best neutral. It would continue for the next three years and is more commonly known for its leader, Simeon bar Kokhba, as the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. Jewish tradition is rich with stories about the “10 Martyrs Murdered by the [Roman] Government.” It is during Hadrian’s reign that this happened. Their main headquarters was in the city of Lod. After the end of the desastrous rebellion, the rabbis called him "Bar Koziba", which means "son of the lie". Firstly, Bar Kokhba appears to have been hailed as a messiah by rabbi Akiba.9 Secondly, it is reported that Bar Kokhba persecuted those Christians who did not deny Jesus or refused to partake in Bar Kokhba’s rebellion against Rome.10 Thirdly, the false messiah is characterized as ‘a liar’ (tr. Bar Kokhba achieved considerable success at first. He, therefore, organized this very large army and began the rebellion against Rome, which lasted almost six years. Rabbi Gershom and rabbi Aha and perhaps others agreed. Britannica now has a site just for parents! There is no evidence that bar Kokhba succeeded in rebuilding the Temple or even renewing the sacrificial services. In either event, the Jews were so well-fortified and supplied they could have held out at Beitar indefinitely. Coin of Bar Kochba: the temple with a Messianic star The story of Simon ben Kosiba's war against the Romans can be read here . Enraged by these measures, the Jews rebelled in 132, the dominant and irascible figure of Simeon bar Kosba at their head. Overall, Hadrian unleashed and eight to ten year reign of persecution after the defeat of Bar Kochba almost unmatched in Jewish history. The sobriquet Bar Kokhba, “Son of a Star,” was given to him in accord with Num. While by no means comprehensive, these sources do provide several important details. Many people were not very happy with the Romans and their ways. He then lost the support of the rabbis completely. That led to the second of the three wars against the Romans. His state was conquered by the Romans in 135 following a two-year war. Between 132 and 135, he was the leader of the last resistance against the Romans. The second war took place in about 110 CE and was led by two brothers with Roman names, Pappus and Lulianus (the Roman name Julius or Julian). Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. On Lag Ba'Omer, Israeli children celebrate the Jewish rebels' victory over the Romans 2,000 years ago. Although Rabbi Akiva had proclaimed Bar Kokhba as king messiah, this messianic hopeful was eventually killed and the revolt bearing his name was put down and the Temple Mount left without a Jewish Temple. All told, Bar Kochba eventually mustered an army of almost 350,000. Judaea was desolated, the remnant of the Jewish population annihilated or exiled, and Jerusalem barred to Jews thereafter. bar Kochba was a great leader and warrior, and led a revolt of tens of thousands of Jews against the Romans (similar to recent conflicts in Chechnya, or Grozny.) His feats of personal valor were legendary, which all lent to a superhuman aura about him. Then they began calling him, “Bar Koziba,” meaning the son of a lie; a false messiah. But the victory had cost Hadrian dear, and, in his report to the Roman Senate on his return, he omitted the customary salutation “I and the Army are well” and refused a triumphal entry. The next war was led by one of the most enigmatic people to appear in Jewish history, a man whom we know very little and yet for the role he played we should know a great deal. Yet throughout the four Gospels we read that Yeshua did have “scent”, he did have this special ability to know what was in men’s hearts. Hadrian did not stop there. No discussion of the rabbinic Messiah can ignore the figure of Shimon Bar Kokhba, the leader of the Judean revolt against Rome from the 132-135 CE.According to several rabbinic sources, Rabbi Akiba, the greatest sage of the time, proclaimed that Bar Kokhba was the Messiah. Bar Kokhba (also called Bar Koziba) was a false Messiah and so he did not have this special ability that Messiah would have. It is not at all clear that Bar Kokhba himself had any pretensions to be the Messiah. Its secret fortifications and entrances were revealed to the Romans by insiders — but not the rabbis, as Bar Kochba feared. His independent kingdom lasted for three years before being crushed through great Roman effort. However, other sages felt strongly that Bar Kokhba was not the Messiah, and two incidents vindicated them. As a result of his victories against the Romans, many hailed Bar Kokhba as the Messiah who would restore the kingdom to Israel. He realized that the final solution to the Jewish problem lay not only in killing Jews but in destroying Judaism. That is how he got the name “Kochba,” which means “star.” In essence, Rabbi Akiva crowned him the Messiah. Therefore, the ability of these leaders to restore relatively normal relations was unusual, to say the least. Yet, in a fit of almost insane paranoia Bar Kochba accused the great sage, Rabbi Elazar, of being the spy and executed him. However, due to Roman pressure and internal dissention he apparently never got to actually rebuilding it. Map 1. The Romans pursued them and dealt with them very severely, massacring of all its inhabitants, including Pappus and Lulianus. Simon bar-Kokhba ("Son of a star"; originally named "bar-Koziba"; later referred to by Jews as "bar-Kosiba", "son of a lie") was the last significant false Messiah.In 130 AD, Emperor Hadrian forbade Jews from visiting Jerusalem and ordered that a temple to the idol Jupiter be constructed on the site of the Second Temple, ruined since the revolt of 70 AD. 9 Secondly, it is reported that Bar Kokhba persecuted those Christians who did not deσy Jκsus or rκλusκι to pζrtζπκ iσ ”ζr Koπνbζ s rκbκllioσ ζμζiσst Roςκ. They saw it as a real chance to bring down the Roman Empire. If Kochba was not a Davidide (descendant of David) how could Rabbi Akiva declare bar Kochba as the Messiah? Peerbolte 7 summarises as follows; There are three elements which would point especially towards identification with Bar Kokhba. He said that the only way that the Jews would get anything from the Romans would be to take it by force. The first one lasted from 63 to 73 CE, culminating in the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE and the exile of the Jews from Jerusalem. ed., 1966. For the first time, the Jews presented a united … The Bar Kochba Revolt (132–136 CE) was the third and final war between the Jewish people and the Roman Empire. Teaching Torah was the worst “crime” a Jew could commit under these circumstances. The primary non-Jewish sources are an epitome of Cassius Dio’s Roman History and a handful of lines by the ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, the bishop of Caesarea. Most notable of all, he employed an army of slaves to plow over the Temple Mount. Dio Cassius gives a brief account of the course of the revolt. After 135 CE, when the rebellion was crushed, Hadrian acted even more ruthlessly and set about on a campaign to wipe away not only the remnants of the Jewish people but the memory that they had ever existed. However, he looked in the wrong places. Therefore, he issued decrees that outlawed Judaism on the pain of death. Those who supported him saw him as a messianic figure. That is how he got the name “Kochba,” which means “star.” In essence, Rabbi Akiva crowned him the Messiah. The war became so serious that in the summer of 134 Hadrian himself came from Rome to visit the battlefield and summoned the governor of Britain, Gaius Julius Severus, to his aid with 35,000 men of the Legion X. Jerusalem was retaken, and Severus gradually wore down and constricted the rebels’ area of operation, until in 135 Bar Kokhba was himself killed at Betar, his stronghold in southwest Jerusalem. The remnant of the Jewish army was soon crushed; Jewish war casualties are recorded as numbering 580,000, not including those who died of hunger and disease. Corrections? These were discovered in the “Cave of Letters” by Bedouin in the 1950s.The letters describe a guerrilla war against the Romans, with Jewish rebels utilising a network of caves and tunnels for military purposes. Bar Kokhba was able to defeat Roman forces garrisoned in Jerusalem, and for about two years an independent Jewish state was established. This happened while he commanded a very large force at the city Beitar, which was the key to Jerusalem. During his tour of the Eastern Empire in 131, the Roman emperor Hadrian decided upon a policy of Hellenization to integrate the Jews into the empire. It followed a long period of tension and violence, marked by the first Jewish uprising of 66-70 CE, which ended with the destruction of the Second Temple, and the Kitos War (115-117 CE). It is remarkable considering that the Romans had never suffered as many casualties in any of their wars. His name was Shimon (or Simon) bar Kosiba. The Roman historian Dion Cassius noted that the Christian sect refused to join the revolt. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The final battle of the war took place in Bethar, Bar-Kokhbas headquarters, which housed both the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) and the home of the Nasi (leader). His successor, Antoninus Pious, not only overturned his decrees but was very benevolent toward the Jews. The Jews were naturally unable to accept such an idea, but they were also unable to explain to him why it was unacceptable and could only be built on that mountain in Jerusalem. Reputedly of Davidic descent, he was hailed as the Messiah by the greatest rabbi of the time, Akiva ben Yosef, who also gave him the title Bar Kokhba (“Son of the Star”), a messianic allusion. We know that at one point Bar Kochba took back Jerusalem and proclaimed that he was going to rebuild the Temple, which was one of the steps the Messiah was supposed to do according to prophecy and tradition. Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135) - The Bar Kokhba revolt was the conclusion of the wars between the Romans and the Jews. The war is also briefly mentioned by the Church father Jerome. Bar Kokhba remains an important historical figure in Israel today because he was the last leader of a Jewish state before the rise of Zionism in modern times. Bar Kochba followed the same strategy that the Jews had followed in the first rebellion against Rome. He was not content merely killing these great rabbis, but doing it in public display of brutality and torture, hoping to crush the spirit of the Jewish people. The Bar Kochba Revolt: A Disaster Celebrated by Zionists on Lag Ba'Omer . By any measure it was a large and fearsome Jewish army. The leader of this revolt was Shimon bar Kokhba. Even so, the Jewish people after Hadrian were crushed almost beyond recognition. Unlike the revolt of 66 CE, the historical sources on the Bar Kochba Revolt are scanty at best. Immediately after this war, Trajan was assassinated and succeeded by Hadrian. The Bar Kochba Revolt was a Jewish rebellion, led by Simon bar Kochba, against the Roman Empire that ultimately failed. What we do know about him is that he was a person of tremendous physical strength. Simon bar Kokhba was believed to be the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva, the greatest rabbinical sage of his generation, because he led a successful independence revolt against Rome. In between the first one (see Jerusalem Destroyed) and this one, there was a little known conflict called the Kitos War, which was fought primarily outside Judea.But the Great Revolt and the Bar Kokhba revolt were fought wholly within the Jewish homeland. Today there are a number of archaeological sites that could be Beitar, which was the location of the last great battle of this war, but the exact site is not known conclusively. The war had no chronicler such as Josephus Flavius, at least none whose work has survived. The revolt did not begin until it had found its leader. Simon ben Kosiba, surnamed Simon bar Kochba ("son of the star") was a Jewish Messiah. Then he surrounded Jerusalem and forced them out. After the destruction, the surviving Jewish leaders tried and were able to reestablish relations with Rome rather rapidly. Hadrian literally reconstructed the landscape in order to prove to the Jews that it would never be rebuilt again. Some of the rabbinic scholars in his time imagined him to be the long-expected Messiah. The revolt established a three-year-long independent Jewish state in which Bar Kokhba ruled as nasi ("prince"). In 135 C.E., Hadrians army besieged Bethar and on the 9th of Av, the Jewish fast day commemorating the … He felt that the rabbis had turned against him. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. His messianic credentials were established by referencing the prophecy concerning a star out of JACOB (Num 24.17) not (for example) referencing 2 Sam.7 or the Judah prophecy in Genesis 49. It was a tremendous blood bath. In that year, Simon bar Kochba (Simon son of the star), was confirmed by the great Rabbi Akiba as the Messiah. Bar Kochba was eventually killed in battle. Accumulating arms by deceiving the Roman authorities, the Jews awaited a suitable opportunity, and when Hadrian left they openly rebelled. Bar Kokhba took the title nasi (“prince”) and struck his own coins, with the legend “Year 1 of the liberty of Jerusalem.”. Bar Kokhba was derided by some as “Bar Koziba” (a pun on the Hebrew word for liar). Rabbi Akiva was so widely respected among the people that if he saw in Shimon messianic qualities then the people immediately elevated him to the level of the Messiah. Rabbi Aqiva, the head of the Yeshiva at Yavne, is said to have declared that the successful Jewish commander was the Messiah. Others remained skeptical. Simon bar Kokhba (Hebrew: שמעון בר כוכבא ‎) (died CE 135) was the Jewish leader of what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE, establishing an independent Jewish state which he ruled for three years as Nasi ("Prince"). Updates? Bar-Kochba believed himself to be the Messiah, and was hailed as such by Rabbi Akiba. The Bar Kokhba War reminds us that freedom is not free. The Je… It did not end until Hadrian died. The tannaim were divided, some supporting his rebellion, others not. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. Comment: Jesus of Nazareth and Simon ben Kosiba are the only Jewish leaders who are positively identified as Messiahs in the Jewish sources: Jesus is explicitly called "Messiah" by Flavius Josephus , Ben Kosiba in several rabbinical treatises. After Y. Aharoni, Carta’s Atlas of the Bible, Heb. Indeed, it could be said that Bar Kokhba's dream was not fulfilled until the State of Israel was founded on 14 May 1948. As testified in Yadin’s book he was a very charismatic, intelligent person, as well as a religiously observant and pious Jew. The Jews took Aelia by storm and badly mauled the Romans’ Egyptian Legion, XXII Deiotariana. Much of what we know concerning the Bar Kokhba Revolt comes from a cache of letters written by Bar Kokhba and his followers. Simon ben Kosevah, or Cosibah, known to posterity as Bar Kokhba (Hebrew: שמעון בן כוסבה ‎; died 135 CE), was a Jewish military leader who led the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE.The revolt established a three-year-long independent Jewish state [dubious – discuss] in which Bar Kokhba ruled as nasi ("prince"). In the ancient world that was an enormous army, greater in number than the entire Roman army. He, too, entertained ideas of allowing the Jews to rebuild the Temple and have a measure of autonomy. They made a strong effort to deliver the Jewish people from under the Roman yoke. Bar Kokhba was a Jewish and false messiah who led one of the greatest rebellions of his people against the Romans in an attempt to take back Judea at any cost. He first reconquered the Galilee to cut the Romans off from the sea. In many ways, the Bar Kochba Revolt differed markedly from its predecessors. Jerome on Bar Kochba. 24:17(“A star shall go forth from Jacob”), taken to refer to the messiah. Copyright © & The Destiny Foundation. The Talmud says that anyone who wanted to join his army had to be willing to cut off their little finger. However, Beitar was betrayed. He forbade mention of the name Jerusalem and renamed the holy city, Aelia Capitolina. 24:17); he was the leader of guerrilla forces who fought the Romans from 132 to 135 CE when the emperor Hadrian prepared to erect a temple to the god Jupiter on the site of the Jerusalem Temple. Many details of the war are unclear to us. From letters and documents unearthed in the Judean Desert we know the real name of the leader to have been Simeon bar Kosiba. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Had they done so, the Romans, who were constantly harassed by guerilla warfare and marauding Jewish soldiers, would have retreated. Thanks for this lesson. During four of those years there was an independent Jewish state. The helps us understand very well why the Christians would take no part in the war; it would have made one messiah too many. He felt that the destruction of Lod would guarantee that the Jews would not rebel again. Yet as victories go, Simon Bar Kochba's was a Pyrrhic one. Their hopes were dashed. He also forbade Jews from living there. The war began as a guerrilla struggle against Rome in 13… In this war, the most influential rabbi lent his name to the cause, was Akiva ben Joseph. In 1952 and 1960–61 a number of Bar Kokhba’s letters to his lieutenants were discovered in the Judaean desert. It eroded all chance of reconciliation. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). He was able to uproot a tree while riding a horse. Shimon bar Kochba’s reputation became so great that, according to the records of the times, many non-Jews came to fight in his army. It was likely changed to Bar-Kokhba during the revolt, as a reference to a verse in the Bible referring to the Messiah as a star (kokhav). Bar Kochba and Messiah ben Joseph? Documents discovered in the modern era Rabbi Akiva. As long as the Jews had their religion no one would ever really be able to eradicate them entirely. They did not join the first rebellion, but the reason they didn’t join the second rebellion is because Rabbi Akiva declared Bar Kokhba the Messiah, and the disciples of Yeshua knew that Bar Kokhba was not the Messiah, and that brought a great calamity and finally the exile of the Jews from Judea to Galilee, and from there to the rest of the Roman Empire. It was total war. Beitar fell to the Romans on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, in 135 CE, adding it to calamitous national tragedies of the Jewish people. They had never experienced such as bitter war as the ten year war they had with the Jews. As the pressure of Rome bore down upon him he began to worry about betrayal and was on the lookout for spies. Bethar was a vital military stronghold because of its strategic location on a mountain ridge overlooking both the Valley of Sorek and the important Jerusalem-Bet Guvrin Road. Bar Kochba’s defeat marked the end of any sort of Jewish autonomy in the Jewish homeland until the twentieth century. Bar Kokhba fell in the fortified town of Betar. In the writings of Dio Cassius it says that he had an army of 200,000, each of whom was strong enough to uproot a tree. Thousands of Jewish refugees fled to Bethar during the war. Omissions? Simon ben Kosevah, or Cosibah, known to posterity as Bar Kokhba (Hebrew: שמעון בן כוסבה‎; died 135 CE), was a Jewish military leader who led the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE. After a string of almost unbroken successes for four to five years he now began to suffer reverses. It was Rabbi Akiva who ascribed to Shimon bar Kochba the famous messianic verse: “A star will shoot forth from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17). This in combination with his charismatic personality produced a natural leader that captured the heart and soul of the Jewish people.