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The Great Jewish Revolt

Contributed by David Verne

Judea had never been a completely pacified province, but this year all hell breaks loose. Florus, the Roman governor, orders Roman soldiers to steal 17 talents of gold, about 1,275 lbs, from the temple in Jerusalem to pay for Nero's increased spending habits. Outraged, the Jewish populace sparks riots across the city, and several rebel factions seizes the opportunity to kill the Roman garrison and take control of Jerusalem. The Sicarii, an extremist splinter faction of the Zealots, surprises the Romans at the cliff-top fortress of Masada and takes control of the surrounding area. The various rebel factions begin purging any Romans or Greeks living in Judea, along with Jews seen as collaborators. The Roman legate of Syria, Gallus, mobilized 30,000 soldiers to restore order. After recapturing Galilee and marching within site of Jerusalem, they withdraw and begin marching back towards to coast. At the pass of Beth Horen, they were ambushed by the rebels. 6,000 Romans were killed, Gallus managed to escape by abandoning his army, the rebels captured several Roman artillery pieces, and, the greatest disgrace of all, the eagle standard of the 12th Fulminata was captured, disgracing the legion until the unit redeemed itself about a century later. This victory convinced many volunteers to join the rebel cause. [1] [2]

My Take by David Verne
This revolt was as much a civil war between the Jews as it was a rebellion with some Jews happy with Roman rule, while others were not. The resistance fighters themselves weren't united with the different factions hating each other as much as they hated the Romans. The Sicarii, named after the Roman word for dagger, were the most extreme group and saw any talk of even trying to negotiate a peace agreement with the Romans as treason. They would conceal daggers in cloaks and would kill their enemies in public spaces, blending into the crowd to escape. They were one of the first organized assassination units.

See Also


  1. Dando-Collins, Stephen (2010). Legions of Rome. St. Martin's Press. 
  2. Duncan, Mike (August 30, 2009). What an Artist the World is Losing.

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