Lew Rockwell recently linked to a
story on artifacts discovered near the Dead Sea,
which prompted the following.
part of its campaign of hegemony, Rome occupied Judea in 63 B.C.
and stuck around for 376 years.
the Hellenists who previously occupied Judea resistance against
whom is now being commemorated during the festival of Chanukah
Rome also infringed upon the inhabitantsí religious traditions.
For instance, it arrogated the power to appoint the Jewish high
priest. (In a contemporary context, imagine Italian Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi declaring the right to appoint the next pope.
"Il mio governo, la mia chiesa!" could be the slogan.
["My government, my church!"])
39, Caligula decreed the construction of his likeness in every temple
within the empire. Not keen on desecrating their sanctuary with
an idol, the Jews alone didnít follow the decree.
didnít take the news well and threatened to destroy the Second Temple.
(In 586 B.C., the Babylonians destroyed the First
Temple built by King Solomon.) "So you are the enemies of the
gods, the only people who refuse to recognize my divinity,"
he said. Praetorian tribune Cassius Chaerea led an assassination
of Caligula in 41, which prevented a possibly genocidal reaction
by him against the Jews.
Gessius Florus expropriated the Templeís treasury in 66 and sparked
a rebellion lasting until 70. Emperor Titus destroyed the Second
Temple after suppressing the rebellion. (Todayís Western Wall in
Jerusalem is a remnant of the Second Temple.)
became emperor in 118. His policies included the construction of
a pagan temple in Jerusalem and deporting Jews to North Africa.
Bar Kokhba led another rebellion from 132-135. Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph
supported the rebellion and, thinking its leader the Messiah, gave
him the name "Bar Kokhba" (Son of the Star, in reference
to Numbers 24:17). Akiva was a shepherd who had no interaction with
Judaism until he was 40 and then became one of the foremost Tannaim
crushed the rebellion with a dozen legions. He then renamed Jerusalem
"Aelius Capitolinus," renamed Judea "Palestina,"
and criminalized Sabbath observance and religious teaching.
Akiva continued to teach.
one of his peers asked why he violated Hadrianís prohibition, Akiva
responded with a parable:
what is the matter like? To a fox who was walking along the
banks of a stream, and saw some fish gathering together to move
from one place to another. He said to them, "From what
are you fleeing?" They answered: "From nets which
men are bringing against us." He said to them: "Let
it be your pleasure to come up on the dry land, and let us,
I and you, dwell together, even as my father dwelt with your
fathers." They replied: "Are you the animal who they
say is the shrewdest of animals? You are not clever, but a fool!
For if we are afraid in this place which is our life-element,
how much more so in a place which is our death-element!"
So also it is with us: If now, while we sit and study Torah,
in which it is written, "For this is your life and the
length of your days" (Deuteronomy 30:20) we are in such
a plight, how much more so if we neglect it?
Romans soon found out about Rabbi Akivaís activities and executed
him. As they tore his flesh with iron rakes, he began reciting the
Shema: "Hear, O Israel: The L_rd our G_d is one L_rd"
(Deuteronomy 6:4). (The Romans executed another rabbi by wrapping
him in a Torah scroll and setting him on fire.)
lesson should Jews draw from this chapter in their history? The
State isnít our friend.
Kantor [send him mail]
is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and president of the
Center for Free Emigration,
which agrees with Frederick Douglass that "It is a fundamental truth
that every man is the rightful owner of his own body."
© 2002 LewRockwell.com