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The Jewish Revolt Against Rome:
The War of 66-70 C.E.

- Abstract

THE events in Palestine during the great revolt against the Romans in 66-73, culminating, although not ending, in the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple in the year 70, constitute one of the most heroic chapters in Jewish history. It has nevertheless been unfortunate in its chroniclers. We are informed of these events in considerable detail by Josephus, who although writing for a Roman public was unable to conceal completely his admiration for the heroism of his fellow countrymen. But Josephus was a quisling, who had betrayed his people and deserted to the side of the conqueror, and was deeply concerned both to justify his own action and to adulate his patrons. He therefore was driven to denigrate his former Jewish associates, whom he depicts as ambitious cutthroats, fiercely quarreling among themselves for supremacy even when the enemy was at the gates. Other episodic accounts are to be found in the Roman historians, who saw in the Jewish patriots nothing more than fanatical tribesmen engaged in an unreasonable struggle against the majesty of Rome. And there is some interesting legendary embroidery in the Talmud, which adopted a distinctly pacifist attitude, finding its ideal not in those who carried on the struggle in the beleaguered city but in Rabbi Johanan ben Zakkai, who escaped to make his peace with the conqueror and secure the perpetuation of the Pharisaic academies. Finally, the Christian writers considered that the disaster of the year 70 was a natural punishment for the great crime committed by the Jewish people thirty-seven years earlier by the crucifixion of Jesus, and that those whom God wished to destroy He had previously made mad.



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