The uprisings in the Jewish Diaspora, 116–117

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UNREST AMONG THE JEWS OF THE DIASPORA Towards the end of Trajan's reign, violent Jewish uprisings erupted in several places in the Mediterranean world. The reasons that led the Jews to take up arms are difficult to grasp, since they are not mentioned by the sources that deal more with the fighting of wars than with their causes. However, a general ferment prevailed at the time among the Jews, caused by the destruction of the Temple in 70 ce and by the demeaning fiscus Judaicus, which compelled all Jews to pay an annual poll tax to the Roman state. Such works as the Third Sibylline Oracle, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch insist on an upheaval of the present political situation, on the coming of the Messiah, the destruction of the wicked, the ingathering of the exiles, the restoration of the Jewish state, and the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. It may be no accident that the Jews armed themselves while Trajan was busy with his war against the Parthians, a war that had begun in 114 and the results of which still appeared uncertain. The causes of this uprising also included local factors. This fact is evident concerning Egypt, where social, economical, political, and ideological competition and rivalry between Jews and Greeks are attested since the third century bce. The situation had become more tense in Roman times, and twice earlier in Trajan's days – in 112 and in the summer of 115 – armed attacks had been perpetrated by Greeks against Jews, the last of which may definitely be considered a direct cause of the Jewish uprising. As for Libya, the unrest that had occurred in 73 ce, which ended with the death and confiscation of property of a large number of wealthy Jews (Josephus, Bell., 7.437–51), may have weakened the number and the restraining authority of the wealthier members of local Jewish communities, paving the way for the most extreme ones.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Judaism
Subtitle of host publicationVolume IV the Late Roman-Rabbinic Period
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9781139055130
ISBN (Print)0521772486, 9780521772488
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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