The Great Revolt of Judea against Rome

March 3 2022

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.

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Read more at New Criterion

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

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy