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May 7: Two Centuries After Bar Kokhba

May 7, 2014
Constantius GallusConstantius Gallus Caesar, a cousin of Emperor Constantinius II, arrived to take charge of Antioch, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (Syria-Palestine), on this date in 351 CE. A Jewish revolt broke out within days, prompted by the Romans’ favoritism towards Christianity (Antioch was the center of early Christianity and was given as the Virgin Mary’s birthplace). The revolt, centered in Diocaesarea (Sepphoris), one of the largest towns in the Galilee, began with the destruction of the Roman garrison at night, which gained arms for the insurgents, who then went about killing non-Jews in their cities. The uprising was suppressed within the year by “Master of the Cavalry” Ursicinus, a general who destroyed Diocaesarea, Tiberias, and Dispolis (Lydda), and put to death several thousand Jewish rebels. All three towns would be rebuilt, but Diocaesarea was destroyed again in 363 by a massive earthquake. The Galilee had become the center of Jewish life in Palestine after the Roman destruction of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 136 CE, with Sepphoris serving as the seat of the Sanhedrin and of a major rabbinical academy. “The Jews of Judea received a brief respite in 363 CE when Julian the Apostate became Emperor of the Eastern Kingdom. He tried to return the kingdom to Hellenism and encouraged the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. The Jews were ecstatic, but their joy was short-lived; Julian was assassinated, and Christian emperors took over, never to lose control again.” -Jewish Virtual Library
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