The Great Revolt of Judea against Rome

In 66 CE, Jews in the province of Judea launched a major rebellion against Rome, which lasted until approximately 74 CE. As Barry Strauss notes in a review of a new history of the conflict, it was not the only significant national uprising in Roman history. But it is particularly memorable for three reasons:

First, it caused the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, an event that has left its mark to this day, although in very different ways, on Christianity and Islam as well as on Judaism. Religious Jews pray every day, morning and evening, a heartfelt prayer to see the Temple rebuilt. Christians have at least historically believed that the destruction of the Temple fulfilled Jesus’s prophecy, and so they think it indicates divine favor for the New Israel of Christianity.

Second, the Great Revolt brought a new dynasty to power in Rome, the Flavians, and with them a new architectural program. The dynasty’s founder, Vespasian (r. 69–79 CE), based his claim to the purple on his leading role in putting down the Great Revolt, which he achieved with the help of his son and successor, Titus. They, along with Titus’s younger brother and successor, Domitian, turned the center of Rome into a veritable world’s fair commemorating their defeat of the rebels of Judea. Monuments there included but were not limited to the famous Arch of Titus on the edge of the Roman Forum, with its relief sculpture showing loot captured from the Temple in Jerusalem; the nearby Temple of Peace, which housed some of that loot; a second arch dedicated to Titus, but no longer extant, at the entrance to the Circus Maximus; and above all, the Flavian Amphitheater, better known as the Colosseum. The most famous monument of ancient Rome and the symbol of the city today was built in part from spoils of war looted from Judea and served to commemorate that victory.

The third reason for the importance of the Great Revolt is the historian Josephus, a contemporary of and participant in its dramatic events. His Jewish War, or Judean War as some translate it, is by far the most detailed account of any rebellion in a Roman province that survives, as well as an important source for the history of the imperial Roman army.

Read more at New Criterion

More about: Ancient Israel, Ancient Rome, Josephus, Judean Revolt


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy