East of Jerusalem is the historic Judean Desert and the hilltop fortress of Masada overlooking the Dead Sea. Masada was the scene of the collective suicide of nearly 1,000 Jewish fanatics, including men, women and children, who preferred to die in honor than to be conquered by the Romans in AD 73 during the period of the Jewish revolt. Recently, not far from Masada, two pieces from 2000 years ago were found in a wadi or dry canyon which rewrote the history of the Jewish revolts against the Romans in the region of Akrabat. One piece dates from AD 67 and the other 70 years later, but they were both found in an area that historians had assumed to be uninhabited after AD 73. This means that the Jewish revolts were more successful than previously imagined, and that many survived in the Judean Desert much longer than “supposed”.
The play dates from the time of Bar Kokhba’s Jewish revolt against the Romans which took place between 132-136 AD. It wears a palm branch surrounded by a crown and the inscription LeHerut Yerushalayim (Freedom in Jerusalem) on one side and a musical instrument and the name “Shimon” on the other – the first name of the leader of the Bar rebellion. Kokhba. (Tal Rogovsky / Bar-Ilan University )
Reports of cave looting led to Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt coin
An archaeological survey, with very superficial excavations, was carried out in this part of the West Bank (the northern part of the Judean Desert), by the University of Bar-Ilan, in collaboration with the Regional Council of Binyamin.
âWe conducted the survey about a year ago with a group of my students,â said Dr Dvir Raviv of Bar-Ilan University, who led the initiative. âWe had heard of antiquity looters active in the area, and in particular in a cave near Wadi Rashash. I visited the cave and saw pottery shards and potential for interesting finds.
During the investigation, archaeologists found a ritual bath, among several other finds, and the unexpected piece of the Jewish revolt. The Wadi Rashash coin is said to have been minted in 134-135 AD. It wears a palm branch surrounded by a crown and the inscription LeHerut Yerushalayim (Freedom in Jerusalem) on one side and a musical instrument and the name “Shimon” on the other – the first name of the leader of the rebellion of Bar Kokhba, reports Jerusalem post .
This coin, also found in the Wadi Rashash area near Hirbet J’bait, was minted around AD 67. It features a fig leaf and the Hebrew inscription Herut Zion (Freedom for Zion) on one side, and a goblet and the inscription “An Two” on the other. (Tal Rogovsky / Bar-Ilan University )
Shimon the Messiah and the Jewish revolts against the Romans
Shimon was the first name of the leader of the Bar Kokhba revolt (the third and last Jewish revolt) against the Romans, Shimon Ben Kosevah, better known as Shimon Bar Kokhba. The great sage Rabbi Akiva considered Shimon to be the Jewish messiah and anointed him Bar Kokhba or “Son of the Star”, according to ecclesiastical sources, especially the Jewish Talmud.
The Judeo-Roman War began after Antipater the Idumean began a cruel reign, a year after the Romans took full control of the Syrian province in AD 63. The long-brewed and brewed revolt erupted after several oppressive religious restrictions imposed by the Romans, who also decided to build a Roman city on the ruins of Jewish Jerusalem, including a pagan shrine where the Temple was located.
This allows the theory to be deepened and even bears witness to the existence of a Jewish community in the Judean Desert (Akrabat) region until 134-135 CE, despite the prevailing belief that all Jewish communities in the north of Jerusalem were razed to the ground in the great revolt of the 7th decade of our era and never resurrected, reports Israel Hayom .
It was in this area of ââWadi Rashash that the last piece (of Bar Kokhba’s Jewish revolt against the Romans; 132-136 AD) was discovered in a cave. (Tal Rogovsky / Bar-Ilan University )
Importance of finds and ancient Jewish resistance
“Wadi Rashash’s play indicates the presence of a Jewish population in the area until the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt, contrary to what researchers previously thought: that the Jewish settlements north of Jerusalem have all been destroyed during the Great Revolt and the area not resettled thereafter. This coin is in fact the first evidence that the Akrabat region, the northernmost of the districts of Judea during the Roman period, was controlled by the administration of Bar Kokhba, âsaid Dr Raviv.
The other piece, found at Hirbet J’bait is considerably older – either 67 or 68 AD, reports the Daily mail . It features a fig leaf on one side and the Hebrew slogan of freedom Herut Zion or “Freedom to Zion” inscribed on the other.
Incidentally, the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem only 3 years later, in AD 70. Following this, the Second Revolt, also known as the Kitos War, took place in 115 AD, lasting two years until 117 AD.
These findings are important primarily because the heavy Roman narrative that dominated this period is being called into question. More and more evidence of a stronger and longer Jewish resistance is emerging, and these two pieces prove it. Further research may provide ancient texts written by the Jewish resistance from this time of Roman rule in Israel.
Top image: It was in a canyon like this in the Judean Desert in western Israel that archaeologists found two ancient Jewish coins (one from 67 AD and one from around 135 AD. JC). The fact that the coins were found in the same area rewrites existing hypotheses about the Jewish revolts against the Romans in an area believed to be uninhabited after the first stage of the Jewish revolt. Source: CPO / Adobe Stock
By Rudra Bhushan