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HaBait HaQados ("The Holy House") to the Hebrews The Hebrew people are first mentioned (outside the Bible) in the 15th C BC by Amenhotep II, Pharaoh of Aigyptos; in the 13th C BC we are told that Pharaoh Marniptah pillaged the Jewish kingdom of Israel in Canaan. The people of this kingdom were alleged to have adhered fervently to a monotheistic religion that was inseparable with their cultural and ethnic identity. They had long venerated a sacred site (Mount Moriah / Temple Mount) in Jebus (Jerusalem) but it wasn't until the 10th C BC that their king, Solomon built their first permanent temple to their god YHWH on the spot. This temple was however sacked a few decades later by Sheshonk I, Pharaoh of Aigyptos. The temple wasn't fully restored until 835 BC when Joash, King of Judah invested considerable sums, only to have it stripped again for Sennacherib, King of Assyria in 716 BC. Josiah, King of Judah had restored the temple again in 640 BC when in 586 BC Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon completely destroyed it, the city of Jerusalem and carried a large portion of the population off into exile. With the fall of the Babylonian Empire in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great of Persia allowed the Jewish refugees to return home and commissioned the rebuilding of the temple. On March 12th, 515 BC the Jewish Governor Zerubbabel dedicated the new temple. Whilst the new temple wasn't as extravagant as its predecessor, nor as monumental, it still presented an imposing structure on the skyline of Jerusalem. The temple narrowly avoided being destroyed again in 332 BC when the Jews refused to acknowledge the deification of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Alexander was allegedly "turned from his anger" at the last minute by astute diplomacy and flattery. After the death of Alexander on June 13th, 323 BCE and the dismembering of the empire, the Ptolemies came to rule over Judea and the Temple. Under the Ptolemies, the Jews were given great liberty to maintain their religion and culture. When the Ptolemies were defeated at the Battle of Panium by Antiochus III 'the Great' of the Seleucids in 198 BC, things began to change. Antiochus who now contolled Judea tried to Hellenise the Jews and when he attempted to introduce Greek gods into the Jewish temple a large rebellion ensued. The rebellion was brutally crushed but he took no further action. When Antiochus
died in 187 BC in the battle at Luristan, his son Seleucus IV Philopator succeeded him only to be murdered in 175 BC. Antiochus IV Epiphanes succeeded his older brother to the Seleucid throne and immediately adopted his father's previous policy of Hellenisation. The Jews rebelled yet again and Antiochus in a rage retaliated in force with little discretion shown between the guilty and innocent. Already smarting, the Jews became incensed when the religious observance of Sabbath and circumcision were outlawed. When Antiochus erected a statue of Zeus in their temple and began sacrificing pigs their anger was palpable. They believed that this attack on the temple, the symbol of Jewish identity and faith, was an attack on their very existence. When a Greek official tried to force a Jewish priest (Mattathias) to make a sacrifice to a Greek god in the temple, the priest slew him. Predictably, Antiochus resorted to the same bloody reprisals but this only fomented further unrest. In 167 BC the Jews rose up en masse behind Mattathias and his five sons to fight and win their freedom. Mattathias, now called 'the Hammer' re-dedicated the temple in 165 BC and the Jews celebrate this event to this day as 'Hanukkah'. In 63 BC, the Jews were divided in a bitter civil war. Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus / Pompey the Great of Rome saw an opportunity not to be missed and took the side of Hyrcanus and the Pharisees. The latter admitted he and his army into Jerusalem. Once inside, Pompey took action as he saw fit and began assaulting the Temple (against Jewish wishes) where the other party / Aristobolus and the Sadducees had taken refuge. Jewish troops, Pharisees and Sadducees alike (12,000) then banded together and fought a desperate last minute defense of their temple. When it became apparent that the fight was lost, the survivors all committed suicide together rather than witness the "defilement" of their sacred place. Pompey having received the submission of the Jewish leaders looted the city and departed for Rome. in 54 BC Marcus Licinius Crassus of Rome sacked the Jewish Temple. When news of Crassus' death at the Battle of Carrhae (53 BC) reached Judea, the Jews claimed back their independence. After a brutal Roman campaign in 43 BC, the Jews were defeated and 30,000 were sold into slavery. The Jewish temple was to receive its last and most spectacular upgrade under King Herod Antipater 'The Great' of Judea in 19 BC. The new temple was a colossal building that was said to have struck awe in travellers from all over the known world. Since 36 BC, Herod (not a Jew himself) was having problems with anti-GrecoRoman sentiment amongst his Jewish subjects and believed the upgrading / rebuilding of the then standing temple would greatly relieve some of the tension. But in 6 BC, he further alienated himself by allowing the Romans, on whom he had become dependant, to set their military standards in the temple.
When Herod the Great died in 4 AD and his son Herod Archelaus took the throne, the country was on the brink of rebellion. When two popular religious teachers (Judas and Matthias) tried to remove the Roman standards, Herod Archelaus had the two burnt at the stake. As soon as Herod Archelaus departed for Rome to have his crown 'legitimised', the Jews rebelled. The Romans had to dispatch Publius Quinctilius Varus and a large Roman army to wrest control back. Herod Archelaus decided to personally take revenge on his return. After another large rebellion led by Judas the Galilean, Herod Archelaus was exiled to Rome and Judea became a Roman province. The Jews were angered again in 39 AD when Emperor Caligula declared himself a god and ordered his statue be set up in the Jewish temple. In 45 AD the Jews were further roused when the Roman procurator Gessius Florus pillaged the temple treasury and extorted the Jewish people for personal gain. When Hellenists marched into a synagogue in Caesarea in 66 AD to slay a pig whilst the local Greek speaking Roman garrison looked on, the Jews retaliated en masse. Eliezar ben Hanania ceased prayers and sacrifices for the Roman Emperor at the temple and gathered a large force of Jews. He subsequently led a successful attack on the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. When the 12th Legion was sent to put down the rebellion, they were massacred. The rebellion turned into a full-scale war for freedom from Rome. The Great Jewish Revolt (66-73 AD) only ended when a huge Roman force under Titus stormed Jerusalem and destroyed the Jewish temple on August 5th, 70 AD. 100,000 Jews died in the assault, another 100,000 were sold into slavery and 2,500 were used to feed the wild animals in the colloseum. In total, the war cost 1.1 million Jewish lives but it had cost the Romans as well. To celebrate this great victory, coins were struck and an arch erected depicting the temple treasures being paraded through Rome. The destruction of the temple sparked another Jewish war for independence, the 'Kitos war' of 115-117 AD. Emperor Hadrian visited Jerusalem in 130 AD and announced a new pagan temple to Jupiter to be built on the temple site and in 132 AD Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina, and circumcision was outlawed. These actions incited the Jews to launch their third and final attempt to gain independence from Rome. The 'Bar-Kokhba Revolt' of 132-135 AD was a bloody ruthless affair and the Romans were forced to commit more troops than they had had under Titus. So costly was the campaign that the Roman general's report to the Roman Senate omitted the customary "I and my army are well." This third war cost the Jews 985 villages and 50 fortified towns razed to the ground with a further 580,000 killed. Emperor Hadrian henceforth attempted to remove all trace of Jews, their religion and presence. Jews were forbidden to enter Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem), Jewish religious texts (Torah) and calendars were outlawed, and religious scholars put to
death. A statue of himself was set up aside that of Jupiter on the site of the temple and Judea was renamed Syria Palestina as an insulting reminder of the Jews' ancient enemies, the Philistines. With the passing of Hadrian, the Jews were allowed to enter the city once a year to mourn the destruction of the temple (at what was later to be called the 'Wailing Wall'). This is the Jewish 'Tisha B'Av' day of mourning.
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