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Emet m'Tsiyon

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Roman Testimony as to Their Defeat by Jews under Bar Kokhba

After a Roman defeat by the Parthians in the year 162, only 27 years after the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Fronto wrote a letter of consolation to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He seems to be saying that just as the Romans had suffered military defeat in the past and then came back to victory, as in the case of the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-135 CE), so too would defeat by the Parthians be overcome. Nevertheless, by comparing the early successes of the Jews under Bar Kokhba to the Parthian victory, he indicates what a blow the Jews had dealt to the Romans as the Romans perceived it.

Fronto, Letter to Marcus Aurelius

The god who begat the great Roman race has no compunction in suffering us to faint at times and be defeated and wounded. [...] But always and everywhere he turned our sorrows into successes and our terrors into triumphs. But not to hark back too far into ancient times, I will take instances from your own family. [...] Under the rule of your grandfather Hadrian, what a significant number of soldiers were killed by the Jews.
[translation C.R. Haines; from the Livius website; probably taken from the Loeb Classical Library]

Various modern authorities agree that the Legion XXII "Deiotariana" was wiped out by the Jewish forces. Some Jewish historians suggest that a second legion may have been annihilated as well, on the grounds of various pieces of evidence. Aryeh Kasher reports that the Romans recruited a legion in Provincia Arabia to fight the Jews under Bar Kokhba. Provincia Arabia covered the areas formerly known as Moab, Ammon, and Edom, which Arab invaders had overwhelmed in the Babylonian or the early Persian period, subjugating or destroying the native populations, or causing them to flee, as the Edomites fled to southern Judah and the northern Negev, and settled there, the area becoming known in Greek and Latin as Idumaea, which was in fact distinct from the original Edom. Till this day, the capital of Jordan is called Amman. This was the Biblical Rabbath-Ammon, the name of which was pronounced Rabbathammana by Greeks and Romans (also named Philadelpheia by one of the Ptolemies). Several place names for Moab and Ammon found in the Bible are still used by the Arabs pronounced in their way: Dibon > Diban; Heshbon > Hisban; Kerakh Moab > Kerak, etc.

See what Karl Marx, yes, that Karl Marx, wrote about the sufferings of the Jews in Jerusalem in his time --at the hands of Arabs, among others. Coming soon.


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