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Emet m'Tsiyon

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Emperor Julian Wants to Restore the Jewish Temple

In the year 363 CE, about forty years after Emperor Constantine had made Christianity the Roman state religion, the new emperor, Julian, wished to restore the traditional Roman religion and remove Christian religious domination. As part of his political-religious-cultural program, Julian also wished to restore the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and restore Jewish worship there. The Jewish Temple had been destroyed almost 300 years earlier by Roman forces (including Arab auxiliaries) in 70 CE. Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus briefly describes the episode:

Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, XXIII:1

[Julian] ... eager to extend the memory of his reign by great works, he planned at vast cost to restore the once splendid temple at Jerusalem, which after many mortal combats during the siege by Vespasian and later by Titus, had barely been stormed. He had entrusted the speedy performance of this work to Alypius of Antioch... [Rolfe translation-Loeb Classical Library]

... sui memoriam, magnitudine operum gestiens propagare, ambitiosum quondam apud Hierosolyma templum...

Apparently because of earthquakes in the Levant that year, the work was disrupted. Julian died not long after afterwards.


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