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Bible Dictionaries

Holman Bible Dictionary

Bar-Kochba

(bayr-kohch buh) Bar-Kochba means “son of the star” and was the title given by Jewish rebels to Simeon bar Kosevah, the leader of their revolt in A.D. 132-135. The title designated him as the Messiah (Numbers 24:17 ). The revolt erupted because the Roman Emperor Hadrian had begun to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city with plans to replace the ruined Jewish Temple with one dedicated to Jupiter. Circumcision was also forbidden. At first, the Jews prepared for war secretly. When Hadrian left Syria, they openly revolted. By using guerrilla tactics, they were able to overpower the Roman forces and liberate Jerusalem in A.D. 132. Bar-Kochba was the civil leader of the people, and Eleazar was the high priest. Their initial success led to such widespread rebellion that even some Gentiles and Samaritans joined them. Hadrian had to recall Severus from Britain to suppress them. It was a long and costly war for the Romans. Severus avoided direct confrontation, weakening the rebels instead by capturing them in small groups, cutting supply lines, besieging fortresses, and starving them. Bar-Kochba made his last stand at Betar, where most of the remaining insurgents died in 135. Some retreated to caves in the Judean desert and had to be starved to death. Modern archaeologists have recovered their remains along with correspondence from Bar-Kochba himself. Most of the leading rabbis of the day died after the defeat. Hadrian then completed his plans for Jerusalem and renamed it Aelia Capitolina after himself. He forbid the Jews even to enter the territory around the city.

Ricky L. Johnson

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Bar-Kochba'. Holman Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hbd/b/bar-kochba.html. 1991.

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