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The Jewish rebellion against the Romans in Egypt, Cyprus and Mesopotamia during the time of Emperor Trianus, 118-114/5 CE is not so well known

Dr. Yehiam Sorek

In one of my notes I referred to a not-so-known-to-the-public rebellion, although on the research table it is discussed in detail and in depth, referring to the Jewish rebellion against the Romans during the time of the emperor Trianus, 118-114/5 CE. In my list I wanted to highlight the complex dimensions of this rebellion, especially in relation to the causes of its outbreak.
This rebellion had three centers of activity: North Africa (Egypt and Kyrenia), Cyprus and Mesopotamia. The researchers are pretty much in agreement among themselves as to the central and primary focus of the rebellious activity, and the talks are aimed at the rebellions in Egypt and Kyrenia, which indeed receive very broad and graphic coverage by ancient historians, find inscriptions (mainly inscriptions) and archaeological remains.
The northeastern focus of the Roman Empire, i.e. Mesopotamia, has been somewhat neglected in research, and I would like to illuminate (and comment) it here in my article.
The days were the days of the reign of the emperor Trianus, who strove on the one hand to stabilize the borders of the Roman Empire by conducting wars, and on the other hand to bring the empire to days of peace and tranquility, and perhaps most of all the symbol of the honorable title that young Plinius, commissioner of Bithynia (a Roman province in Asia Minor) aspires to attach to the chest of the emperor and he is the "Father of the Fatherland" = Pater Patriae.
At the end of his reign, Trianus conducted, directly and under personal management, a special policy in the east of the empire. This was summed up in a chain of wars, which were intended to stabilize the relationship with the various ethnic groups that lived beyond the borders of the empire.
In the spring of 114 AD, Emperor Trianus left for Armenia. He turns it into a Roman province and France into an empire.
A year later, after a winter camp, the Roman army crossed the Euphrates and invaded northern Mesopotamia. And almost without fighting it was annexed to the Roman Empire in the form of the province of Mesopotamia. The emperor wanted to complete the campaign of taking over all of Parthia, but a fatal earthquake occurred in the Syrian city of Antioch, where the emperor camped in the winter of 115, and brought about a change in his plan.
At the beginning of the year 116, the Roman army took over the kingdom of Khadive (Adeibna) in the north of Mesopotamia and turned it into a new province called "Assyria" (Assyria), so that when it joined with Armenia in the north and Mesopotamia in the south - it also became a Roman province called "Parthia" - a fortified deep line was created to the east of the empire Roman from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea.
Some claim that Trianus dreamed of realizing the creation of the eastern empire of Alexander the Great of Macedonia (400 years before him).
And here we begin to connect to our issues: the Parthians created foci of resistance and rebellion against the Romans, and parts of Mesopotamia fell from the Roman Empire and returned to eastern control. In the winter of 117 CE, Trianus abandoned the systems in the east, returned to Rome and entrusted the continuation of his policy to his relative, Hadrian, who would later (from 118) be his successor.
At that time, from 115 AD, there were various rebellions against the Romans throughout the empire, probably due to rumors coming from the east, due to the prolonged absence of the emperor from the center in Rome and due to the dilution of Roman forces in various areas in order to thicken the legions that fought in the east.
An important point worth noting is the reference of the Roman historian, Dio Cassius, who is considered reliable, to the leveraging of the rebellion movement. He speaks of a total rebellion in Mesopotamia, and according to him: "When he (Trianus) sailed to the great sea (the Persian Gulf, so it seems) and returned from there, all the conquered peoples caused a burst of riots and revolted. The guard troops stationed among them were expelled or destroyed." Dio Cassius goes on to tell about the revolts of the Jews in Egypt, Kyrenia and Cyprus, except that regarding Mesopotamia he fills his mouth with water - the Jews are not mentioned there as a party to the revolt, as any party, and this is different from his descriptions of the Jewish activity in North Africa and the island of Cyprus.
About the revolt of the Jews in the territories of Mesopotamia against the Romans, a Christian source named Orosius tells, and the father of the church, the quasi-historian, Eusebius, puts it in "strange" language as follows: "The emperor (Trianus) suspected that the Jews in Mesopotamia might also attack the people living there, and ordered Lucius Quaitus to evacuate them from the province (Mesopotamia). Hela (Trianus) prepared for war and slaughtered a great multitude there. Because he brought about the correction of the situation, the emperor appointed him commissioner of Judea" (Ecclesiastical History, 2, 5, XNUMX). Another ecclesiastical source from Hieronymus says that "since the Jews were rebelling in Mesopotamia, the emperor Trianus ordered Lucius Quaitus to burn them from the province (Mesopotamia)".
From the passages in question it is clear, well-known, researched and published, that during the time of Emperor Treinus, the Jews rebelled in four centers: Egypt and Kyrenia (which are the main centers, and there is a dispute in the research in light of the written and archaeological data on the question - where did it break out, whether in Egypt or Kyrenia) on one side and Cyprus and Mesopotamia on the other.
The revolt of the Jews during the days of the emperor in question was "chewed", as mentioned, in the research kitchen, and highlighted, logically, in relation to Egypt and Kyrenia, when the story of the uprising in Cyprus and Mesopotamia was pushed to the margins of interest.
The evidence about the events in Cyprus is extremely poor, and in contrast, the envelope of information about Mesopotamia is wider, and it also has an impact on the results of the rebellion regarding Judah itself, and that is why I chose to expand in my list the canvas in question.
The history of the Jews of Mesopotamia is a lot of fog. It is clear to us, in light of the biblical information and mainly based on the interpretation of the descriptions that appear in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, that a considerable part (how many, it is not known) of the Jews who went into exile after the destruction of the First Temple, remained in Babylon, established communities and even built them "a few temples", which may Accepted as synagogues.
The Bible is still "enough" to tell us about the prophet of the exile, who lived in exile in Babylon - Ezekiel and his vision-instruction of the prophet Jeremiah addressed to the exiles: "Build houses and settle down and plant gardens and eat the fruit" (Jeremiah 5:XNUMX), as confirmation of a prediction that the exile will be long and protracted. , and even, here and there, references by the characters Haggai and Zechariah to the exile and the exiles. Even the archaeological studies in the ancient city of Nippur testify to a flourishing Jewish presence there (in one of my studies I hypothesized about the identity between Nippur and Nahardea).
The next historical station that broadcasts, albeit only by allusion, about the Jewish community in Babylon being a living and "kicking" entity, is located hundreds of years after the days of the prophets, and it lands us in the court of King Herod. Hella took care, for political reasons, to strengthen ties with the Jews of Babylon, in connection, for example, with the construction of the Temple. He appoints Hananal, a priest from Babylon, to head the priesthood in the temple, and promotes the position of Hillel who came from Babylon. Herod also made tempting offers for units of Jewish archers from Babylon to come and settle in the northeastern part of Israel (in Tarkhon and Bashan), and for their benefit a military colony was established there. The leader of the archers was called Zamri, or in his Greek name - Zamaris.
Joseph ben Matthew tells about an interesting event, through which we can glimpse the problematic atmosphere that developed in Babylon towards the end of the first century BC. It is about two weaving brothers in Babylon, Hasinai and Hanilai, who quarreled with the supervisor of their work, took up arms, gathered around them young, poor and disgruntled people, and took control of their environment. These became stronger and stronger, established a rebel army, built citadels and fortresses, and developed a rebellion state. The state repression attempts against them were not successful, and finally the Parthian king Nablus, Artabanus III, was on his side, so that they would help him against rebellious people who threatened his lordship and powers.
The rebel state of Hanilai and Hasinai operated for over 15 years, from 10 CE and fell apart due to internal conflicts.
On another occasion, Joseph ben Mattheyahu expands the story about the kings of Hadaib (Adiabana) in northern Babylon - Mesopotamia, who converted, and some of them, like Queen Helini, went to Jerusalem and helped her financially and architecturally.
It should be noted that among the rebels in Jerusalem - during the days of the great rebellion against the Romans - there were warriors, members of the royal family in Bedaiv, and perhaps also Jewish forces who came from Babylon to help the rebels.
These historical landmarks seem to clarify the uniqueness of the Jewish rebellion during the reign of Emperor Trianus (117-115). The Jewish rebellion in Egypt and Kyrenia began with a confrontation with the Hellenistic population on a political-legal, economic-social and even ideological-zealous basis (as a result of the delusional, messianic incitements of Jewish rebels, those who fled from the Romans at the end of the Great Revolt (73 AD), and that's what I stood for here on the "Hidan" website, in one of my articles), and turned into a war right against the Romans, who, as expected, supported the Hellenistic population in the central cities - Alexandria in Egypt and Kyrenia in Kyrenia. On the other hand, the clash between the Babylonian Jews and the Roman troops was unique. These, assuming that they did rebel, joined the Parthian forces who fought their war of sovereign survival against the Romans. The Jews, again assuming that they actually rebelled, felt themselves to be local by birth, and as such, they defined the Romans as dangerous invaders, and therefore took hold of the sword of resistance.
It is worth highlighting the fact that the Christian and trending source - Eusebius' composition - states that the Jews in Babylon did not really rebel, but rather that the emperor suspected/feared that they would rebel, and therefore attacked them and massacred them. It is hard to assume that the Romans would have attacked the Jews if it had not become clear to them that the Jewish public in Babylon was conspiring, together with the locals, against the Romans.
Another difficulty that arises from the whole affair, and has, perhaps, a connection with the previous paragraph, is the location of the Jewish concentration in Babylon. That is, the conflicts between the Babylonian-Parthian forces and the Romans took place in the north, in Mesopotamia, while the Jewish settlement concentrations were focused in the south.
Another point worthy of consideration emerges from the literature of Sages who discuss some of their articles with the phrase "Kitos polemic". Since "polemus" is rebellion, insurrection, resistance on the one hand, and "Citus" is, similarly, a corruption of the name of Lucius Quaitus, the Roman general, who, thanks to the oppressive actions he inflicted on the Parthians, was promoted to commissioner of Palestine, on the other hand. The mentions of the "Kitos polemic" box should be treated with proper research importance. Well, in one of these sage texts, two interesting characters are mentioned: Pappus and Lulainus, who organized a kind of financial enterprise and were sentenced to death by the Romans during the days of Trinus.
In the Book of Ta'anit (XNUMX) it is said that "Trianus (Trianus) captured Lulinus and Pappus his brother in Laodicea, he said: 'If you are from the people of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, your God will come and save you from my hand'... They said: He did not leave until Diople came upon him (= army units) ) of Rome and wounded his brain with a gezirin and in the ravines". There is no doubt that this is a pair of rebels, and not only because of the mention of Trianus's name, but because of none of the severe punishment that rebels deserve, as was customary with the Romans (crucifixion or beheading). It is interesting to emphasize that as the Greek names of the leaders of the rebels in Egypt, Cyrene and Cyprus, such as Lokoas, Lompsoas, Artemion, so here too the rebels are mentioned with Greek names such as Lulianus and Paphos.
So what did that pair of rebels do, for which they committed themselves to a strange death. The Midrash (Beresheet Rabbah Sed, XNUMX) tells of a Roman plan to renew the construction of the Temple, in honor of which Pappus and Lulianus conducted an operation to transfer money from Syria, from Laodicea (today's Latakia) to Jerusalem. Finally, the Romans withdrew from their plan, and this move provoked a rebellious group in the Beit Rimon valley to wave the miracle of rebellion. The rebellion was averted after an interesting attempt at reconciliation initiated by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah.
There is no doubt that the same pair of rebels, the leaders of a rebellion, helped, at the same time as the money flow to Jerusalem, also to flow forces to Judah from the north. from where The Babylonian Exile.

One response

  1. What is the source that the temple was destroyed in 70 AD by Suetanius (the life of the 12 emperors) it is only proven that before 71 AD, and in the Jewish wars it seems that

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