On This Day
135 – Roman armies enter Betar, slaughtering thousands and ending the bar Kokhba revolt.
The Bar Kokhba revolt (Hebrew: מֶרֶד בַּר כּוֹכְבָא; Mered Bar Kokhba) was a rebellion of the Jews of the Roman province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire. Fought circa 132–136 CE, it was the last of three major Jewish–Roman wars, so it is also known as The Third Jewish–Roman War or The Third Jewish Revolt. Some historians also refer to it as the Second Revolt of Judea, not counting the Kitos War (115–117 CE), which had only marginally been fought in Judea.
The revolt erupted as a result of ongoing religious and political tensions in Judea following on the failure of the First Revolt in 66−73 CE. These tensions were related to the establishment of a large Roman presence in Judea, changes in administrative life and the economy, together with the outbreak and suppression of Jewish revolts from Mesopotamia to Libya and Cyrenaica. The proximate reasons seem to centre around the construction of a new city, Aelia Capitolina, over the ruins of Jerusalem and the erection of a temple to Jupiter on the Temple Mount. The Church Fathers and rabbinic literature emphasize the role of Rufus, governor of Judea in provoking the revolt.
In 132, the revolt led by Bar Kokhba quickly spread from central Judea across the country, cutting off the Roman garrison in Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem). Quintus Tineius Rufus was the provincial governor at the time of the erupting uprising, attributed with the failure to subdue its early phase. Rufus is last recorded in 132, the first year of the rebellion; whether he died or was replaced is uncertain. Despite arrival of significant Roman reinforcements from Syria, Egypt and Arabia, initial rebel victories over the Romans established an independent state over most parts of Judea Province for over two years, as Bar Kokhba took the title of Nasi (“prince”). Simon bar Kokhba, the commander of the revolt, was regarded by many Jews as the Messiah, who would restore their national independence. This setback, however, caused Emperor Hadrian to assemble a large scale Roman force from across the Empire, which invaded Judea in 134 under the command of General Sextus Julius Severus. The Roman army was made of six full legions with auxiliaries and elements from up to six additional legions, which finally managed to crush the revolt.
The Bar Kokhba revolt resulted in the extensive depopulation of Judean communities, more so than during the First Jewish–Roman War of 70 CE. According to Cassius Dio, 580,000 Jews perished in the war and many more died of hunger and disease. In addition, many Judean war captives were sold into slavery. The Jewish communities of Judea were devastated to an extent which some scholars describe as a genocide. However, the Jewish population remained strong in other parts of Palestine, thriving in Galilee, Golan, Bet Shean Valley and the eastern, southern and western edges of Judea. Roman casualties were also considered heavy – XXII Deiotariana was disbanded after serious losses. In addition, some historians argue that Legio IX Hispana’s disbandment in the mid-2nd century could also have been a result of this war. In an attempt to erase any memory of Judea or Ancient Israel, Emperor Hadrian wiped the name off the map and replaced it with Syria Palaestina. However, there is only circumstantial evidence linking Hadrian with the name change and the precise date is not certain. The common view that the name change was intended to “sever the connection of the Jews to their historical homeland” is disputed.
The Bar Kokhba revolt greatly influenced the course of Jewish history and the philosophy of the Jewish religion. Despite easing the persecution of Jews following Hadrian’s death in 138 CE, the Romans barred Jews from Jerusalem, except for attendance in Tisha B’Av. Jewish messianism was abstracted and spiritualized, and rabbinical political thought became deeply cautious and conservative. The Talmud, for instance, refers to Bar Kokhba as “Ben-Kusiba,” a derogatory term used to indicate that he was a false Messiah. It was also among the key events to differentiate Christianity as a religion distinct from Judaism. Although Jewish Christians regarded Jesus as the Messiah and did not support Bar Kokhba, they were barred from Jerusalem along with the other Jews.
Born On This Day
1880 – Gertrude Rush, American lawyer and jurist (d. 1962)
Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush (August 5, 1880 – September 5, 1962) was the first African-American female lawyer in Iowa, admitted to the Iowa bar in 1918. She helped found the National Bar Association in 1925.
Life and career
Gertrude Elzora Durden was born on August 5, 1880 in Navasota, Texas to Sarah E. and Frank Durden. She attended high schools in Parsons, Kansas and Quincy, Illinois. She taught in Oswego, Kansas; the Indian Territory; and Des Moines, Iowa. She married in 1907 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Des Moines College in 1914, then earned a law degree through distance learning facility La Salle Extension University. She remained the only African American female lawyer in Iowa until 1950.
She took over her husband’s law practice after his death. In 1921 she was elected president of the Colored Bar Association. In 1925 Rush and four other black lawyers founded the Negro Bar Association after being denied admission to the American Bar Association.
Rush was also an activist in the civil rights and suffrage movements, as well as an author and playwright.
The Gertrude E. Rush Distinguished Service Award is given by the National Bar Association.
As of 2017, the Iowa National Bar Association is erecting a public art project, A Monumental Journey, in honor of Rush and the others who opened the profession of law to African Americans.
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