“If someone tells you that Caesarea & Jerusalem are destroyed don’t believe them, Caesarea & Jerusalem are standing don’t believe them. Caesarea is destroyed & Jerusaelem is standing or Caesarea is standing & Jerusalem is destroyed- believe them!” (Tractate Megilla, Babylonian Talmud).
You could cut the air with a knife regarding the tensions between the Jews and the Romans during the first century before the common era and through the first two centuries of the common era. The above quote describes this in polarizing the cities in which the leaderships of both sides sit in the land of Israel, Jerusalem and Caesarea.
The Romans, led by Pompey, conqure Judea in 63 BCE. This is the end of Jewish rule until our modern times. In the year 40 BCE the Roman senate appoints King Herod as their client king ruler in Judea, who after having to conquer Jerusalem from rebelling Jews, rules with an iron fist for over 30 years until his death. The tensions between the Jews & Herod reached boiling points many times. One of the main reasons for this is he was seen as the man who ended the beloved Hasmonean/Macabbee dynasty (from the Chanukah story).
After Herod’s death the tensions between the Jewish population and Roman leadership, especially the prefects (local Roman rulers) intensifies. What are the variables that eventually lead to an all out Jewish rebellion against the Romans in the year 66? There are several-
-Increased burden of taxation & corrupt exploitation by the Roman prefects of their Jewish subjects. Things got so bad that many Jews who owned land for generations, had to give it up to the Romans.
-Ever increasing affronts to the Jews religious sensitivities. Josuphus Flavious, who describes the events of the time in his book ‘War of the Jews’, describes a Roman soldier stationed near the Temple lifting up his robe, exposing his buttocks to the crowd of Jewish celebrants, and emitting a rude sound. This is just one example of many malicious Roman insults towards the Jews during these difficult years.
-The Romans riling up the other non-Jews in Judea against the Jews. A well documented incident is of local pagans, in Caesarea, Purposely sacrificing birds to an idol outside a synagogue during prayer time on Shabbat. This in order to spite the Jews, leading to all out riots and the death of thousands of Jews (according to Josephus’s’ description).
-Inner turmoil within the Jewish population. Different lines of belief and ideology led to the creation of many Jewish sects. The biggest & most known are the Sadducee, Pharisees, Sicaree & Essene sects. They differed in their way of observing Judaism, messianic expectations & outlook on combative activism. Some believed in ‘My way or the highway’/sum game zero even among their fellow Jews, conflicts which eventually led to the crumbling of daily life within Jewish society.
All of the above led to the Jews rebelling against the Roman occupation of Judeah in 66 CE. This horrible rebellion lasted for 4 years until the Romans, led by Titus, conquered Jerusalem and burned down the 2nd Temple on the 9th day of Av (July/August) in the year 70. There are a tremendous amount of fascinating archaeological finds, bringing to life these dramatic & horrible events and eventual destruction.
I would love to guide you through these sites in the near future.
Unfortunately, at that point Caesarea was standing and Jerusalem was destroyed. Today, though, in the 21st century, the opposite is true. Jerusalem is flourishing and Caesarea is a gorgeous archaeological site that I’m looking forward to guiding you through, although it’s definitely destroyed since it’s glory days in ancient times.
The video was taken a couple of months ago (as right now we can’t walk more then a few hundred feet outside of our home). You can join me on my explaining the dramatic events that take place on Mt Nitai in the Galilee. Battles between the hated Herod and the Jews take place there in the first century BCE. It’s in that same place, too, that battles between the Jews and the Romans will take place once again 100 years later.