Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

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Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:21 pm

I grow weary of knowing less about the infamous Simon bar Kokhba than I should, and have been collecting some of the relevant sources. I have gathered that there actually are not that many sources which one may call reliable, which may help explain why I feel like I know less than I should: there may not be a lot to know.

I have read "Hadrian's Actions in the Jerusalem Temple Mount According to Cassius Dio and Xiphilini Manus," by Yaron Z. Eliav, in Jewish Studies Quarterly 4.2, which argues for an interpolation in the text of Cassius Dio (and therefrom of his epitomizer, Xiphilini Manus). The interpolation of nonhistorical information into the only real summary from an historian that we possess would reduce our knowledge base even further, of course. That summary runs as follows:

Cassius Dio, Roman History 69.12.1-69.14.3:

12.1 At Jerusalem, Hadrian founded a city in place of the one which had been razed to the ground, naming it Aelia Capitolina, and on the site of the temple of God, he raised a new temple to Jupiter [καὶ ἐς τὸν τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ τόπον ναὸν τῷ Διὶ ἕτερον ἀντεγείραντος]. This brought on a war of no slight importance nor of brief duration, 2 for the Jews deemed it intolerable that foreign races should be settled in their city and foreign religious rites planted there. So long, indeed, as Hadrian was close by in Egypt and again in Syria, they remained quiet, save in so far as they purposedly made of poor quality such weapons as they were called upon to furnish, in order that the Romans might reject them and they themselves might thus have the use of them. But when Hadrian went farther away, they openly revolted. 3 To be sure, they did not dare try conclusions with the Romans in the open field, but they occupied the advantageous positions in the country and strengthened them with mines and walls, in order that they might have places of refuge whenever they should be hard pressed, and might meet together unobserved under ground; and they pierced these subterranean passages from above at intervals to let in air and light.

13.1 At first, the Romans took no account of them. Soon, however, all Judaea had been stirred up, and the Jews everywhere were showing signs of disturbance, were gathering toghether, and giving evidence of great hostility to the Romans, partly by secret and partly by overt acts. 2 Many outside nations, too, were joining them through eagerness for gain, and the whole earth, one might almost say, was being stirred up over the matter. Then, indeed, Hadrian sent against them his best generals. First of these was Julius Severus, who was dispatched from Britain, where he was governor, against the Jews. 3 Severus did not venture to attack his opponents in the open at any one point, in view of their numbers and their desperation, but by intercepting small groups, thanks to the number of his soldiers and his under-officers. By depriving them of food and shutting them up, he was able - rather slowly, to be sure, but with comparatively little danger - to crush, exhaust and exterminate them. Very few of them in fact survived.

14.1 Fifty of their most important outposts and nine hundred and eighty-five of their most famous villages were razed to the ground. Five hundred and eighty thousand men were slain in the various raids and battles, and the number of those that perished by famine, disease and fire was past finding out. 2 Thus nearly the whole of Judaea was made desolate, a result of which the people had had forewarning before the war. For the tomb of Solomon, which the Jews regard as an object of veneration, fell to pieces of itself and collapsed, and many wolves and hyenas rushed howling into their cities. 3 Many Romans, moreover, perished in this war. Therefore Hadrian, in writing to the Senate, did not employ the opening phrase commonly affected by the emperors, "If you and your children are in health, it is well; I and the legions are in health."

I underline that phrase in chapter 12 because of its similarity, particularly with respect to the meaning of the phrase "temple of God," to the (pseudo-)Pauline passage thought by Eliav to have led to the interpolation:

2 Thessalonians 2.3-12: 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God [ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι, ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἔστιν θεός]. 5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Simon bar Kokhba himself apparently wrote some letters, fifteen of which have been preserved for us, and of which four are printed here:

Bar Kokhba letters:

1 Shimeon bar Kosiba to Yehonathan and to Masabala. Let all men from Tekoa and other places who are with you, be sent to me without delay. And if you shall not send them, let it be known to you, that you will be punished.

2 Letter of Shimeon bar Kosiba to Yehonathan, son of Be'ayan: Peace! My order is that whatever Elisha tells you, do to him and help him and those with him. Be well.

3 Shimeon to Yehudah bar Menashe in Qiryath 'Arabaya. I have sent to you two donkeys, and you must send with them two men to Yehonathan, son of Be'ayan and to Masabala, in order that they shall pack and send to the camp, towards you, palm branches and citrons. And you, from your place, send others who will bring you myrtles and willows. See that they are tithed and sent them to the camp. The request is made because the army is big. Be well.

4 From Shimeon bar Kosiba to the men of En-gedi. To Masabala and to Yehonathan bar Bey'ayan, peace! In comfort you sit, eat and drink from the property of the House of Israel, and care nothing for your brothers.

Very much to the point, all four of them.

Eusebius, of course, has a few words on the topic:

Eusebius, History of the Church 4.6.1-4:

1 As the rebellion of the Jews at this time grew much more serious, Rufus, governor of Judea, after an auxiliary force had been sent him by the emperor, using their madness as a pretext, proceeded against them without mercy, and destroyed indiscriminately thousands of men and women and children, and in accordance with the laws of war reduced their country to a state of complete subjection.

2 The leader of the Jews at this time was a man by the name of Barcocheba (which signifies a star), who possessed the character of a robber and a murderer, but nevertheless, relying upon his name, boasted to them, as if they were slaves, that he possessed wonderful powers; and he pretended that he was a star that had come down to them out of heaven to bring them light in the midst of their misfortunes.

3 The war raged most fiercely in the eighteenth year of Adrian, at the city of Bithara, which was a very secure fortress, situated not far from Jerusalem. When the siege had lasted a long time, and the rebels had been driven to the last extremity by hunger and thirst, and the instigator of the rebellion had suffered his just punishment, the whole nation was prohibited from this time on by a decree, and by the commands of Adrian, from ever going up to the country about Jerusalem. For the emperor gave orders that they should not even see from a distance the land of their fathers. Such is the account of Aristo of Pella.

4 And thus, when the city had been emptied of the Jewish nation and had suffered the total destruction of its ancient inhabitants, it was colonized by a different race, and the Roman city which subsequently arose changed its name and was called Aelia, in honor of the emperor Aelius Adrian. And as the church there was now composed of Gentiles, the first one to assume the government of it after the bishops of the circumcision was Marcus.

The Jewish Virtual Library has this to say:

Shimon Bar-Kokhba was the leader of the Jewish revolt against Rome between 132 and 135 C.E. Bar-Kokhba united his army in Judea and led the Jews in battle. This rebellion later became known as the Bar-Kokhba revolt.

There are few sources about Bar-Kokhba. Those that exist in Talmud, Midrash and Church Father Euseblus are largely legendary. Even his name is uncertain. His first name, Shimon, was found written on coins from the time of the revolt. His last name, however, is written with many variations, such as Ben Koziva or Bar Kozevah, in different documents. It is probable that his name was originally Bar Koseva, which is either his father's name or the name of a Judean settlement. It was likely changed to Bar-Kokhba during the revolt, as a reference to a verse in the Bible referring to the Messiah as a star (kokhav). This would be fitting as Bar-Kokhba was descended from the Davidic dynasty (which is the Messianic dynasty according to Jewish tradition) and the Messianic hopes of the nation centered around him.

Bar-Kokhba was an imperious dictator who was in charge of both the army and the economy during the Jewish revolt against Rome. He held the title of Nasi, which could be a Messianic allusion or could simply refer to the one in charge of army, administration and economy. Bar-Kokhba had unlimited authority over his army and was concerned with even the most minor details. He was not afraid to threaten senior officers of his army with punishment. The 400,000 soldiers in his army were said to have been initiated either by having a finger cut off or by being forced to uproot a cedar tree. Bar-Kokhba relied on his own powers and, according to aggada, when he went to battle he asked God to "neither assist nor discourage us."

Despite this attitude, Bar-Kokhba strictly adhered to Jewish laws including Sabbath, tithes and holidays. Letters written in his name between 132 and 134 C.E., found in the Judean desert between 1952 and 1961, reveal his concern for Jewish observance. These letters also show his preoccupation with everyday issues such as supplying food to the camp and solving problems of land ownership.

Before and during the rebellion, Bar-Kokhba and his men controlled large amounts of land in the Judean hills, Judean desert and Bet Guvrin. They also maintained contact with Jews in other areas. Bar-Kokhba led the Jewish army through three and a half years of revolt. He died in a massive battle at Bethar, in the Judean hills. He was succeeded as ruler by his son Rufus, who was followed by Rufus' son Romulus.

However, Andrew Criddle has commented as follows concerning the rebel's alleged sons:

The earliest source for the claim that Simon bar Kochba had a son named Rufus (and a grandson named Romulus !!!) seems to be Ibrahim ibn Daud in the Book of Tradition (Sefer Ha-Qabbalah) in c 1161 CE.

Possibly there is a confusion with the contemporary Roman governor Rufus, but ibn Daud's account is rather strange. Koziva (Kochba) revolts in the time of Domitian and the revolt is continued by his son Rufus and his grandson Romulus. Hadrian makes war against Romulus ben Rufus ben Koziva and kills him in the sack of Betar. (Source Richard Marks The Image of Bar Kokhba)

It is unlikely that this has any relation to the historical Simon bar Kochba.

Stuart weighs in on the topic of Hadrian having installed a statue of himself on the Temple Mount:
Stuart wrote:This may seem like a nit, but there are several problems with the account of an Equestrian statute of Hadrian on what we call Temple Mount today.

This first and foremost is that it is generally thought by historians that the equestrian statues (we have no examples of Hadrian on horse, as we do with Trajan and Marcus Aurelius) and other glorification monuments to Hadrian were in fact erected by Antoninus in an effort to get his predecessor deified by the Roman Senate, and honor they declined for many years. His efforts were so great and continuous until the Senate yielded that he became known as Pius.

Here is an example of one Hadrian Statue from Tel Shalem commemorating the crushing of Bar Kokhba and reorganisation of Judaea into a new province named Syria-Palestina:

Image

Roman statues tended to be placed either in front of temples, or on top of arches. So Hadrian's statue logically would have been at the gate of Aelia Capitonlina or at the town's temples. In Aelia Capitolina the temples were not on "Temple Mount" but instead to the west. You can make it out the temples off the main straight road to the left (west) in the Madaba map

Image

The temple mount seems not to have been part of the city. This cannot be the abomination, even if 4th century Christian writers thought so. But they had so much wrong about the Bar Kokhba conflict, that to have another detail wrong is par for the course.
Hadrian's purported visit to Jerusalem seems relevant, so it does not seem out of bounds to offer the text of an inscription discovered in two parts in Jerusalem. The first part of the inscription was discovered in the late nineteenth century and first published in 1903 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau; it is listed as number 715 in CIIP volume 1, part 2. The second part of the inscription was discovered in 2014. Together they read:

Impertori Caesar/(ari di)v[i Traiani]
Parthic(i) F/[ilio divi Nerv]ae nep(oti)
Traiano H/(adri)ano August[o]
Pont[ifici] maxim/[o] tribunicia pot[estate] XIIII
Co[n]/s[uli] III P[atri] P[atrie]
[L]egio X F/retensis Antonianae


To the Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, son of the deified Trajan defeater of the Parthians, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power XIV, consul III, father of the country, [dedicated by] the Tenth Legion Fretensis Antoniniana.

(The slash marks signify the break between the two parts of the inscription.)

We have coins from the era of bar Kokhba: https://www.ngccoin.com/news/article/24 ... Bar-Kokhba.

There are also some interesting snippets of sources on this thread: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=3319 (refer especially to MrMacSon's post, or to the link from which he quotes).

So... what else is there? Might someone be able to provide some of the relevant Talmudic or Midrashic texts? (I do not have consistent access to most of the late Midrash material, so the entire passages would be great; I do have access to the Soncino translation of the Talmud, so a list of references would work.) Any other relevant ancient sources would be most welcome, as well.

Thanks.

Ben.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sun Apr 22, 2018 11:57 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:18 pm

I suspect that Simon Kosiba is emphasized to diminish the culpability of Akiba. The Image in Numbers 24:17 "Koziva shall step forth from Jacob": this sentence attributed to Akiba means that he has substituted the word "koziva" for kokhav (star) in Num. 24:17, the verse he is expounding. Akiba is an Aramaic name derived from the Hebrew name Jacob. The prophesy then mentions both Akiba and the star (or lie) that sets forth from him. I think that the second rebellion resembles the first in that we don't know much about the leader of either revolt.
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 16, 2017 7:31 pm

Onkelos renders into Aramaic:

When the King (מַלכָא) shall arise out of Jacob, and the Messiah shall be anointed from Israel

However the Samaritan Targum retains כוכב but interestingly the Samaritans use the terminology to mean 'Israelite' because of Genesis 26:4 where Abraham is promised that his descendants will be like the כְּכוֹכְבֵ֣י of heaven.
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:12 pm

What is also worth noting is that the idea that the sons of Abraham were literally promised to become stars is as old as Philo. The understanding seems to be at the core of various accounts of the rebels - i.e. that they thought they had supernatural flesh. The same idea seems to be at the heart of the early Christian understanding. Look at Tertullian On the Flesh of Christ - "They allow that Christ really had a body. Whence was the material of it, if not from the same sort of thing as that in which He appeared? Whence came His body, if His body were not flesh? Whence came His flesh, if it were not born? Inasmuch as that which is born must undergo this nativity in order to become flesh. He borrowed, they say, His flesh from the stars, and from the substances of the higher world." (chapter 6) Again "Let them, then, prove to us that those angels derived their flesh from the stars." (ibid) "But if there had been in Him any new kind of flesh miraculously obtained (from the stars), it would have been certainly well known. As the case stood, however, it was actually the ordinary condition of His terrene flesh which made all things else about Him wonderful, as when they said, Whence has this man this wisdom and these mighty works? Matthew 13:54 Thus spoke even they who despised His outward form. His body did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of heavenly glory." (chapter 9)
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:18 pm

Tertullian says that Apelles taught that Jesus “borrowed... his flesh from the stars, and from the substances of the higher world.”27 Tertullian says he got this idea from the fact that some thought the angels had perfect forms not unlike the spherical stars Clearly 1 Corinthians chapter 15 would have been a proof text for this understanding. Indeed 'the promise of Abraham' (Galatians chapter 2 and 3 = being transformed into star beings. A book on the subject - https://books.google.com/books?id=ebant ... 22&f=false
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Dec 16, 2017 10:24 pm

In commenting on Genesis 15:5 in Who Is the Heir? 86-87, Philo states:

“When the Lord led him outside He said “Look up into heaven and count the stars, if thou canst count their sum. So shall be thy seed.” Well does the text say “so (οὕτως ἔσται)” not “so many (τοσοῦτον)” that is, “of equal number to the stars.” For He wishes to suggest not number merely, but a multitude of other things, such as tend to happiness perfect and complete. The “seed shall be (οὕτως οὖν ἔσται)”, He says, as the ethereal sight spread out before him, celestial as that is, full of light unshadowed and pure as that is, for night is banished from heaven and darkness from ether. It shall be the very likeness of the stars.”1

Here Philo argues from the grammar of the LXX of Gen 15:5 that the adverb οὕτως should be understood not merely quantitatively but qualitatively as well, suggesting that the promise to become as the very likeness of the stars was the original intention of the scribe. The promise of Gen 15:5 for Philo entails being transformed into beings full of light, being in the “very likeness of the stars,” and participating in their celestial life.2

In Questions and Answers on Genesis, Philo similarly comments on the patriarchal promise of star-like seed as it was retold to Isaac in Gen 26:4a:

“What is the meaning of the words, “I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven?” Two things are indicated, in which the nature of all things in general consists, (namely) quantity and quality – quantity in “I will multiply,” and quality in “as the stars.” So may (thy descendants) be pure and far-shining and always be ranged in order and obey their leader and may they behave like the luciform (stars) which everywhere with the splendour of ethereal brightness also illumine all other things.” (QG 4.181)

Philo here again sees implicit within the language “so may thy descendants be” the promise of the ethereal life of the stars. In Gen 26:5, Abraham’s seed will be multiplied as the stars of heaven and be given all these lands “because Abraham obeyed my voice.” For Philo, Abraham acts as the stars act who are always “ranged in order and obey their leader.” In both of these texts Philo seems to axiomatically employ the phrase “so shall your seed be (οὕτως ἔσται τὸ σπέρμα σου)” as if it were to be taken as a kind of adage that was intended to denote celestial immortality.

Sirach, Exaltation as the Stars, and the Linking of the Abrahamic and Davidic Promises

In a paraphrase of the Abrahamic promise as reiterated in Gen 22:17, the Greek text of Sirach 44:21 states: “For this reason, God promised him with an oath to bless the nations through his seed, to make him numerous as the grains of dust, and exalt (ἀνυψῶσαι) his seed as the stars, giving them an inheritance (κατακληρονομῆσαι) from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”3 The Greek text of Sirach limits the numeric aspect of the promise to the dust, while becoming as the stars is seen as referring to exaltation (ἀνυψῶσαι). Surprisingly, commentators on Romans 4 universally cite this text as a source for the expansion of the land promise in early Judaism in attempting to determine what it might mean for Paul to “inherit the cosmos,” yet without any reference to or discussion of the significance of the exaltation as the stars as it relates to the inheritance of the earth.4 This exaltation in Sirach 44:21 results in “giving them an inheritance (κατακληρονομῆσαι) from sea to sea,” linking the qualitative interpretation of the Abrahamic promise with the language of the Davidic royal inheritance of Psalm 72:8 (71:8 LXX), “May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”5 Later in Sirach 47:11, the link is strengthened all the more with the employment of the language of exaltation, this time speaking of David: “The Lord took away his sins and exalted (ἀνύψωσεν) his power forever; he gave him a covenant of kingship and a glorious throne in Israel.”6

It is important to note that we may find something similar in Rom 4:6-8. In the middle of an argument framed by Genesis 15, Paul introduces David saying that he “also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works.” Paul portrays David as if he were, like Abraham, being “credited righteousness,” quoting from Ps 32:1-2, which speaks of the forgiveness of David’s sins. In a relationship similar, and quite possibly parallel, to that of Sirach 47:11, David’s forgiveness is connected to his receiving the promise of exaltation, almost interchangeably with that of Abraham.7

A similar tradition linking the Abrahamic and Davidic promises in astral terms can be found in Jeremiah 33:19-22, which shares its rhetorical and theological shape with the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:

“The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”8

The language of day and night coming at their appointed time is more than likely a reference to the greater and lesser lights (sun and moon) and the stars from Gen 1:14-18, where the celestial bodies were “set in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from darkness.” The constancy of the ruling order in heaven kept by the celestial bodies is likened here to the everlasting rule of the Davidic monarch. It is important to note here that instead of the term for “stars” normally used as the referent for the multiplicity of seed in the Abrahamic covenant formula, the author chooses to employ the term “hosts of heaven,” assuming their interchangeability.9

The source of this particular literary pattern of linking the rule of the celestial bodies to the rule of David (or his seed) is more than likely found in Balaam’s prophecy referring to David, and later in early Judaism to the coming Messiah: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth” (Num 24:17).10 Here in Num 24:4 and 16 and Gen 15:1, the Davidic oracle and the Abrahamic promise are both described as a vision (מחזה), both speaking of their seed in astral terms, and both narrating the coming dominion over the land.11

Apocalypse of Abraham, the Power of the Stars, and the Rule of Nations

The late first century to mid second century CE text, the Apocalypse of Abraham, re-narrates Abraham’s counting of the stars from Gen 15:5 in the context of an ascent to heaven where he is welcomed above the stars.12 In Apoc. Abr. 20.3-5 the Eternal Mighty One addresses Abraham:

“‘Look from on high at the stars which are beneath you and count them for me and tell me their number!’ And I [Abraham] said, ‘When can I, for I am a man.’ And he said to me ‘As the number of the stars and their power so shall I place for your seed the nations and men, set apart for me in my lot with Azazel’.”13

Here Abraham’s seed is promised not merely the number of the stars, but their power, which is understood in terms of the rule over nations and men, which seem to have been allotted to the Eternal Mighty One or to Azazel and his company.

Taking into account the textual evidence cited above from early Hellenistic as well as Palestinian Jewish sources, I believe it is clear that there existed a tradition within Early Judaism of reading Gen 15:5 (and 22:17 and 26:4) qualitatively as well as quantitatively. Considering the wide diffusion of this particular tradition, it would be fair to assume Paul was not only aware of it, but may have also used it himself in his expounding of the Abrahamic promise in his corpus, and more particularly in Romans 4.

A commonly recurring feature in the qualitative interpretations of the Abrahamic promise is an apparent relationship between becoming as the stars and the rule of the nations.14 Sirach connects exaltation as the stars to the Davidic promise of the inheritance of the nations (44:21). Similarly, in the Apocalypse of Abraham, receiving the power of the stars is connected with being placed over the nations (20:5).
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Stuart » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 6:21 pm

Hadrian's purported visit to Jerusalem seems relevant, so it does not seem out of bounds to offer the text of an inscription discovered in two parts in Jerusalem. The first part of the inscription was discovered in the late nineteenth century and first published in 1903 by Charles Clermont-Ganneau; it is listed as number 715 in CIIP volume 1, part 2. The second part of the inscription was discovered in 2014. Together they read:

Impertori Caesar/(ari di)v[i Traiani]
Parthic(i) F/[ilio divi Nerv]ae nep(oti)
Traiano H/(adri)ano August[o]
Pont[ifici] maxim/[o] tribunicia pot[estate] XIIII
Co[n]/s[uli] III P[atri] P[atrie]
[L]egio X F/retensis Antonianae


To the Emperor Caesar Trajan Hadrian Augustus, son of the deified Trajan defeater of the Parthians, grandson of the deified Nerva, high priest, invested with tribunician power XIV, consul III, father of the country, [dedicated by] the Tenth Legion Fretensis Antoniniana.

(The slash marks signify the break between the two parts of the inscription.)

We have coins from the era of bar Kokhba: https://www.ngccoin.com/news/article/24 ... Bar-Kokhba.

Ben.
Ben, I do think Hadrian's visit was a tipping point for the conflict, but it had nothing to do with religious grounds or any supposed abomination. Instead when the emperor traveled with his large entourage, it was incumbent upon the province he was visiting to pay for his presence. This meant enacting taxes. As was typical of his visits he initiated new Polis (Aelia Capitolina) and roads, which were to be paid for by the province. This led to a number of new and increased taxes. And these I (and not I alone, many Jewish scholars) believe was the real trigger of the revolt, as all the evidence points to economic reasons, not religious.

Midrash Genesis Rabba, 64: 29 points to this economic reasoning:
In the days of R. Joshua b. Hananiah the [Roman] State ordered the Temple to be rebuilt. Pappus and Lulianus set tables from Acco as far as Antioch and provided those who came up from the Exile [i.e. Parthia] with all their needs. Thereupon Samaritans went and warned [the Emperor]: ‘Be it known now unto the king, that, if this rebellious city be built and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute (mindah), impost (belo) or toll –halak’ (Ezra IV, 13): ‘mindah’ is land tax; ‘belo’ is poll-tax; ‘halak’ is androtiga. ‘Yet what can I do,’ said he, ‘seeing that I have already given the order?’ ‘Send a command to them that they must change its site or add five cubits thereto or lessen it by five cubits, and then they will with draw from it of their own accord.’ Now the Community [of Israel] was assembled in the plain of Beth Rimmon; when the [Jewish nobles] dispatches arrived, they burst out weeping, and wanted to revolt against the [Roman] power.
בימי ר' יהושע בן חנניה גזרה מלכות שיבנה בית המקדש, הושיבו פפוס ולוליאנוס טרפיזין מעכו ועד אנטיוכיה והיו מספיקים לעולי גולה, אזלין אילין כותאי ואמרין ליה ידיע ליהוי למלכא דיהן קריתא דך תתבנא ושוריא ישתכללון מנדה בלו והלך לא ינתנון [עזרא ד יג] מנדה זו מידת הארץ, בלו זה פרוביגרון, והלך לאדרוטינה, אמר להון מה נעביד וגזרית , אמרין ליה שלח אמר להון ישנוניה מן אתריה אי יוספון עלוי חמש אמין או יבצרון מיניה חמש אמין ומן גרמון אינון חזרין בהון.
הוין קהלייא מצמתין בהדא בקעתא בית רמון ,כיוון דאתון כתביא שורון בייכין בעיין ממ רד על מלכותא, אמרין יעול חד בר נש חכים וישרך ציבורא,
BTW, you notice that Hadrian himself is not referred to as deified yet on the coin, but rather Trajan and Nerva his predecessors are. Such deification was confirmed on Emperors postmortem by the Senate, and even an Emperors lacked the power to bestow such an honor. Hadrian could not possibly have placed his own statue in front of any temple, or in any temple complex. It would have been a faux pax similar to a pope sanctifying himself, and ordering he be revered among the great saints and a statue erected in Cathedral in his own honor.

I am of the opinion that many modern readers simply bend to the Christian historical bias on this issue. It was clearly the popular belief -or the official propagated "belief"- after Julian the Apostate, and possibly as early as the reign of Constantine. But it conform not at all to Roman tradition as we know it. Given a choice between archeology and Christian myths, I side with the former.
“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.” - Jonathan Swift

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:26 am

Stuart wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am
Hadrian could not possibly have placed his own statue in front of any temple, or in any temple complex. It would have been a faux pax similar to a pope sanctifying himself, and ordering he be revered among the great saints and a statue erected in Cathedral in his own honor.
But is that not exactly what Caligula had proposed to do nearly a century earlier, according to Philo and Josephus? Philo, citing a fellow countryman: "Our temple is destroyed! Gaius has ordered a colossal statue of himself to be erected in the holy of holies, having his own name inscribed upon it with the title of Jupiter!"
ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

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MrMacSon
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by MrMacSon » Sun Dec 17, 2017 1:30 pm

Stuart wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am

.. when the emperor traveled with his large entourage, it was incumbent upon the province he was visiting to pay for his presence. This meant enacting taxes. As was typical of his visits he initiated new Polis (Aelia Capitolina) and roads, which were to be paid for by the province. This led to a number of new and increased taxes. And these I (and not I alone, many Jewish scholars) believe was the real trigger of the revolt, as all the evidence points to economic reasons, not religious.
A lot of information for Judea and Jerusalem in and around this period, particularly for the bar Kokhba revolt, is contradictory (online, at least), and, while the revolt may not have been due to religious grounds as much as for other issues of politics and power (involving taxes), I thought Aelia Capitolina was announced after the revolt.

I thought that Hadrian had agreed to rebuild the temple, but was then advised against it, and your quote of Midrash Genesis Rabba, 64: 29 supports that contention -
Stuart wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am
In the days of R. Joshua b. Hananiah the [Roman] State ordered the Temple to be rebuilt. Pappus and Lulianus set tables from Acco as far as Antioch and provided those who came up from the Exile [i.e. Parthia] with all their needs.

Thereupon Samaritans went and warned [the Emperor]: ‘Be it known now unto the king1, that, if this rebellious city be built and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute (mindah), impost (belo) or toll –halak’ (Ezra IV, 13): ‘mindah’ is land tax; ‘belo’ is poll-tax; ‘halak’ is androtiga.

‘Yet what can I do,’ said he, ‘seeing that I have already given the order?’ ‘Send a command to them that they must change its site or add five cubits thereto or lessen it by five cubits, and then they will with draw from it of their own accord.’

Now the Community [of Israel] was assembled in the plain of Beth Rimmon; when the [Jewish nobles] dispatches arrived, they burst out weeping, and wanted to revolt against the [Roman] power.
I think it was then there was a revolt.
  • 1 The reference to 'unto the King' is interesting.

Stuart wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am
BTW, you notice that Hadrian himself is not referred to as deified yet on the coin, but rather Trajan and Nerva his predecessors are. Such deification was confirmed on Emperors postmortem by the Senate, and even an Emperors lacked the power to bestow such an honor. Hadrian could not possibly have placed his own statue in front of any temple, or in any temple complex. It would have been a faux pax similar to a pope sanctifying himself, and ordering he be revered among the great saints and a statue erected in Cathedral in his own honor.
I have seen commentary that someone around this time was deified ante-mortem, and I think it was either Trajan or Hadrian (and I think it was Hadrian). I think it was done by the Senate, not by the emperor themselves.

Stuart wrote:
Sun Dec 17, 2017 11:15 am
I am of the opinion that many modern readers simply bend to the Christian historical bias on this issue. It was clearly the popular belief -or the official propagated "belief"- after Julian the Apostate, and possibly as early as the reign of Constantine. But it conform not at all to Roman tradition as we know it. Given a choice between archeology and Christian myths, I side with the former.
I agree.

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Secret Alias
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Re: Sources for Simon bar Kokhba.

Post by Secret Alias » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:01 pm

I think the fact that you can draw a straight line between Philo, early Christian sects (Marcion, Apelles and others) and the name associated with the bar Kokba revolt it implies to me at least that there was an underlying commonality in the fulfillment of the Abrahamic promise to receive 'star flesh.' Clearly Christian ate divine flesh and blood to get star flesh. What did the rebels do, what did their leader do to get his star flesh?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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