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Emet m'Tsiyon

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Exile of the Jews from the Jerusalem Polis

UPDATING 7-3-2009 see at bottom

We are now under a multi-faceted psychological warfare assault which uses a whole series of lies which aims, among other things, to deny our very history. Hence the need to know the documents, Jewish and non-Jewish, that relate what happened to the Jews in the Land of Israel [called IVDAEA, Judea, by the Romans].
Here is an important passage from the Greek-speaking Christian Church Father, Eusebios (in Latin, Eusebius), describing the Bar Kokhba uprising [approx. 132-135]. As a consequence of this war, Rome forbid the Jews to live in the Jerusalem region, which was renamed and reconstituted as the polis or colonia of Aelia Capitolina, named after Emperor Hadrian's clan (Aelius).

Eusebios, The History of the Church (Historia Ecclesiae), IV:6

When the Jewish revolt again grew to formidable dimensions, Rufus governor of Judaea, on receiving military reinforcements from the emperor, took merciless advantage of their crazy folly and marched against them, destroying at one stroke unlimited numbers of men, women, and children alike, and -- as the laws of war permitted-- confiscating all their lands. The Jews at that time were under the command of a man called Bar Cochba, which means a star...
The climax of the war came in Hadrian's eighteenth year, in Betthera [Beitar], an almost impregnable little town not very far from Jerusalem. The blockade from without lasted so long that hunger and thirst brought the revolutionaries to complete destruction, and the instigator of their crazy folly paid the penalty he deserved. From that time on, the entire race has been forbidden to set foot anywhere in the neighborhood of Jerusalem, under the terms and ordinances of a law of Hadrian which ensured that not even from a distance might Jews have a view of their ancestral soil. Aristo of Pella tells the whole story. When in this way the city was closed to the Jewish race and suffered the total destruction of its former inhabitants, it was colonized by an alien race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name, so that now, in honour of the emperor then reigning, Aelius Hadrianus, it is known as Aelia...
[translation-G.A.Williamson, revised & edited by Andrew Louth-London: Penguin Books, 1989]

The matter of when and to what extent the Jews were exiled by the Romans has been subject to much confusion, ignorance, and misrepresentation in later generations. This passage, which can be dated to about 315 CE, is one of the most authoritative primary sources on the subject.
Note that the Jews were not expelled from all of the Land of Israel, the country that the Romans called Judea [IVDAEA], but only from "the neighborhood of Jerusalem." Israeli historian Michael Avi-Yonah says this area comprised four toparchies (local districts); E. Mary Sherwood claims that it included only three toparchies. Judea in Roman usage [Provincia Iudaea] included the Golan, Galilee, Samaria, the coastal plain, most of the east bank of the Jordan, the area of the former kingdom of Judah, and the northern Negev. This is the Land of Israel, roughly speaking. Judea as used in Israel today refers to the area of Judah alone, and is thus distinct from Judea in Greco-Roman usage.
The Jerusalem area was constituted as a colonia or polis (both terms were used). When Eusebios writes of "their ancestral soil," he is thinking in Greek terms of a state starting from a city and its surrounding rural area, possibly spreading from there. Both instances of the word "city" in the quoted passage translate forms of the word polis, thus the meaning of polis also includes the surrounding rural territory of the city. Jews remained a large and substantial population in the country, in several parts of Judah, the coastal plain, the Jordan Valley, the Hebron area, the Galilee and Golan.
Note especially that the Roman governor "confiscated all their lands." This means that non-Jews, Arabs and others, inhabiting the Land of Israel today, are likely living on land that earlier belonged to Jews and was confiscated by the Roman imperialist governor. Further, note 1) that the Colonia Aelia Capitolina (here called Aelia) was "colonized by an alien race" by the Roman empire. These aliens included Syrians and Arabs according to Avi-Yonah. The Arabs had to be rewarded for supplying troops as a part of a Roman legion for suppressing the Jewish revolt, as they had supplied auxiliary troops to help suppress the earlier revolt (see blog entry below). French historian Maurice Sartre writes in L'Orient Romain: "Colonia Aelia Capitolina was completed and populated by veterans of the Vth Legion, the Macedonica" [based on an article by J. Meyshan in PEQ]. Felix Abel, historian of the Land of Israel and Dominican priest, writes: "... the new inhabitants of Aelia and its territory" were non-Jewish residents of the Hellenistic cities in Israel and of neighboring provinces" [Histoire de la Palestine]. There is no necessary contradiction between Avi-Yonah's seeing the new settlers as Syrians and Arabs and Sartre's seeing them as veterans of the Vth Legion. This is because legionnaires could be recruited in the broad region where they were to fight. In this vein, Israeli historian Aryeh Kasher reports that Arabs from Provincia Arabia [the Arab-occupied areas of former Moab, Ammon, Edom, etc.] were recruited into a legion to fight against the Jews under Bar Kokhba.

2) the Emperor Hadrian changed Jerusalem's name to humiliate the Jews and honor his own clan (gens);
3) the country is called here Judea (IOUDAIA in Greek). Eusebios does not mention here that the name of the province was changed too, from Provincia Iudaea to Provincia Syria Palaestina, also for the purpose of humiliating the Jews. However, the geographer Claudius Ptolemy used the name Judea, after the revolt's suppression, together with the name Palaestina, as names for the country.
How do today's "post-colonial" theorists deal with the facts that the Jews were driven by imperialists from their ancestral soil, that their lands were confiscated by imperialists, and that the Jerusalem area (called "their ancestral soil" by Eusebios), was "colonized by an alien race" (including Arabs)?? How do they deal with Arab collaboration with the Roman Empire against the Jews??

Without getting into all the historical details and vicissitudes after the Bar Kokhba revolt, we note that Jews were still a substantial part of the country's population, especially in the Galilee, until the Crusades (Jerusalem conquered 1099) when most Jews in the country were massacred by the Crusaders [according to Prof. Moshe Gil and other Jewish historians].
- - - - - - -
UPDATING and the Start of the Jewish Exile 7-3-2009
Here is an article on the town of Beitar, Bar Kokhba's last fortress holding out against the Romans and the start of the Exile from the Jerusalem region. This article is not entirely correct since the exile referred to was only from the Jerusalem region [polis, colonia] at that time.

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